Now it's official: Kasparov is training Nakamura

11/1/2011 – Some knew, some thought they knew, and speculation was rampant during the Grand Slam Final in São Paulo and Bilbao. Yes, Garry Kasparov, who famously trained Magnus Carlsen, is now working with Hikaru Nakamura. The real story is in the details, straight from the protagonists themselves, and you can find them in the latest issue of New in Chess Magazine.

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Kasparov training Hikaru Nakamura

Kasparov writes about the cooperation in his exclusive New In Chess Magazine column, and, in an eight-page feature, contributor Macauley Peterson interviews Nakamura at length about his work with the man he considers "the greatest chess player ever". We learn about the origins and progress of the new collaboration, as Nakamura cements his place among the world elite, plus new information about the end of Kasparov's previous partnership with world number one Magnus Carlsen.

Kasparov and Nakamura started working together before the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee last January, which ended in the American’s greatest triumph to date. Looking back with new knowledge it’s easy to understand what part Kasparov played in his success. Nakamura reveals that he first talked with the 13th World Champion about a possible cooperation at the London Chess Classic. "The beginning of it would have been last December when, right before the London Classic, I got an email from Rex, and he sort of wrote it in a cryptic way where he said he had spoken with Kasparov, and there’s something that he wanted to talk to me about. It didn’t reveal any specifics, but I just put two and two together."


Rex Sinquefield, Garry Kasparov and Hikaru Nakamura

“Rex” is Rex Sinquefield, whose many contributions to the game in recent years include the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis – possibly the finest chess club in the world, and the current venue for the U.S. Championship. The Chess Club is now joined by Sinquefield-sponsored World Chess Hall of Fame (also covered in NIC 2011/07) which sits just across the street. Nakamura moved to Saint Louis in 2010 and you don’t have to guess long to know what Mr. Sinquefield hopes Hikaru will achieve for his country.

In London, Nakamura and Kasparov indeed spoke about teaming up and Hikaru didn’t have to think twice. "I knew right away that I would definitely take up the offer simply because there are certain times – certain opportunities you have in life just don’t come around that often, and certainly having the opportunity to work with, at least what I consider to be, the greatest chess player ever, is sort of an opportunity you can’t turn down."

As was the case when he was working with Magnus Carlsen, Kasparov believes that keeping his role secret gave his protégé an advantage over rivals. Nakamura is less certain about this advantage, and felt that by April several of his colleagues knew anyway, even if they didn’t speak about it.

It’s clear that two outspoken and temperamental characters like Kasparov and Nakamura can reach great heights together, but their temperaments will also inevitably lead to differences of opinion. In his New In Chess column Kasparov writes: "I had the opportunity to work extensively with Magnus, and I have been working less formally with Hikaru since the start of the year." Kasparov goes on to say that the American’s talent is evident, but he grumbles about Nakamura’s interest in poker, which could impede his chess progress.

Whereas Kasparov remains reluctant to talk about their work, Nakamura speaks candidly and in detail with interviewer Macauley Peterson. His opponents may now know that he gets help from Kasparov, but they will find out much more about what makes Nakamura tick when they read his views and convictions.

The full contents are in the current issue of the magazine, which you can order here.


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