Sinquefield 02: Nakamura at the top

9/11/2013 – Aronian had a very questionable opening against Carlsen who kept putting pressure on White's position from the very beginning. However, through inaccuracies and indecision of his opponent, the Armenian was able to defend and draw. Nakamura used his ability in blitz to outplay Kamsky in a sharp time pressure in which Black committed too many errors. Analysis of both games and pictorial report.

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The Sinquefield Cup is taking place from September 9th to September 15th at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The tournament brings together the top two players in the world as well as the top two Americans in a double round robin. The time control is the standard FIDE 90 minutes for 40 moves plus thirty minutes at move 40 with 30 second increment throughout. Sofia rules apply, which means none of the games can be drawn before move 30 - with certain exceptions.

Round two

The name of the game was opening surprises! The main one of course was Carlsen's choice to use a Leningrad Dutch, but Aronian was unfazed and quickly replied with a somewhat uncommon setup with Bf4. Maybe Carlsen was not only trying to hide his preparation from Anand, but also trying to "kick him [Aronian] while he is down" as he said in his own words!

The Nakamura-Kamsky game was a little different. Both players had played this variation before, but it is unusual for Kamsky to use it against such high caliber players: usually he uses this Sicilian against lower rated players to try to win.

The plan quickly backfired as Nakamura obtained a strong initiative and pressure against Black's weakened pawn structure. However with a very timely pawn sacrifice Kamsky was able to obtain very strong counterplay. The game came down to the wire as both player fell under two minutes, and it was then that Nakamura showed why he is known as the king of bullet chess. He played accurate move after accurate move and Kamsky couldn't keep up. Nakamura won two pawns and simplified the position to take the tournament lead.

a not particularly heartfelt handshake when the players arrived

and a more serious one at the beginning of the game between America's top two players

Hikaru was familiar with the opening as he had employed it with black against Gashimov only last year

[Event "Sinquefield Cup"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2013.09.10"] [Round "2"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Kamsky, Gata"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B43"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2741"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez, Alejandro"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 c5 {A small surprise. Kamsky has used the Sicilian many times in the past, but he is better known as a Spanish player.} 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bd3 Bb7 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nxc6 Bxc6 {Interestingly, both players have had this position with black.} 9. Re1 (9. Qe2 $6 Bc5 10. e5 Bd4 $1 11. Rd1 Qb6 {with adequate counterplay. Felgaer-Kamsky, 2010}) 9... Qb8 10. a4 (10. Qe2 Bd6 11. e5 Bc7 {was the end of the game in Gashimov-Nakamura, Tata Steel 2012. The game still has lot of life left, of course.}) 10... b4 11. Nd5 {The knight is obviously taboo, but it isn't immediately threatening anything by itself - the main point is that it is supporting the move Bf4.} Bd6 12. Qh5 Ne7 13. Nxe7 Bxe7 14. b3 a5 $6 {Kamsky played this move very quickly, but it is hard to justify exactly why a5 was necessary.} (14... O-O $5 15. Bb2 f6 {looks dangerous, but might be entirely playable as at some point Black might play e5 to close White's bishops, or at least he will be ready to meet e5 with f5 closing the diagonals in that way.}) 15. Bb2 Bf6 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. e5 {Black has a lot of weakness and will have to prove that his activity can compensate for this and hold his position together.} Rg8 18. g3 Rg5 19. Qh6 Rxe5 20. Qxf6 Rh5 $1 {An important move, without this Black would quickly lose the h7 pawn without compensation.} 21. Be4 $1 {Nakamura uses the fact that the security of the king is a prime factor in major piece endgames - and it is clear that the e8 king is not a happy camper.} Qd8 22. Qf3 Rc5 23. Qe3 {a strange choice, as now Kamsky could simplify the position significantly.} (23. Bxc6 {was more in tune with White's plans.} dxc6 (23... Rxc6 $2 24. Re4 $1 {and immediately Black has serious problems with his king and the h7 pawn.}) 24. Rad1 Qg5 (24... Rd5 25. Rxd5 Qxd5 26. Qf6 {and again the h7 pawn is the issue.}) 25. Rd6 {and it seems impossible to defend c6, which nets White an extra pawn.}) 23... Qe7 ( 23... Re5 24. Qd4 Rxe4 25. Rxe4 Bxe4 26. Qxe4 h6 $11 {and Black is barely holding, but his counterplay against the weak c2 pawn seems to keep him alive and almost equal.}) 24. Bxh7 $5 {The only way to fight for an advantage. This comes with some risk as the bishop will be trapped and out of play for a long time, while the pawn advantage will not be of use for many moves.} f5 {this is of course Black's point} 25. Bg6+ Kd8 {The king heads to safer grounds, while it will allow the a8 rook to swing back to the game.} 26. Rac1 $5 {a "mysterious" rook move as Nimzowitsch would say. The idea is that a potential c3 break might be very powerful.} Kc7 27. Bh5 e5 $5 {Very optimistic. Black could also have played...} (27... Qd6 $5 28. Rcd1 f4 $1 {and the game turns to be quite interesting as White has to play carefully to not get into hot water.} ) 28. f4 $6 {Not a move that Nakamura wanted to play, but he thought it was necessary to stop Black's play.} (28. c4 $5 {Securing the queenside structure} f4 29. Qe2 e4 $1 {Black obtains a strong attack.}) 28... Qd6 $1 {With Nakamura down to onlny four minutes - an extremely unusual event - Kamsky has secured both good counterplay and dangerous tactical chances against his opponent.} 29. Rf1 exf4 30. Qxf4 Be4 31. Qf2 Rc3 32. Be2 Kb7 $6 {an unfortunate decision. Kamsky was clearly worried about the queen's opportunities on the f2-a7 diagonal, but now his own queen will be tied down to the d7 pawn - not a position it wants to be in} 33. Rcd1 Qe6 34. Bc4 d5 35. Qc5 $1 {Nakamura is such a resourceful player! Here the bishop is poisoned} Rd8 (35... dxc4 $2 36. Rd6 $1 {and the threats will soon be lethal on the king, so Black must give up his queen.}) 36. Qxa5 $1 {Amazing! despite the fact that it looks like White has no time to do this, he is just barely able to take Black's pawns on time.} Rxc2 $2 {Maybe the losing move} (36... Qb6+ 37. Qxb6+ Kxb6 38. Bd3 Kc5 {still is difficult for White as Black is very active.}) 37. Rf2 $1 {Very important not to go for the intermezzo yet} (37. Qxb4+ $6 Qb6+ 38. Qxb6+ Kxb6 39. Rf2 dxc4 $1 {And White will have many problems with the passed b-pawn after} 40. Rxd8 Rc1+ $1 41. Rf1 Rxf1+ 42. Kxf1 cxb3 {with an unclear position that should end in a draw.}) 37... Rxf2 38. Qxd8 $1 (38. Qxb4+ Qb6 39. Qxb6+ Kxb6 40. Kxf2 Kc5 {is still unclear as Black's pieces are very active.}) 38... Rg2+ 39. Kf1 Rb2 (39... Rxh2 {was no better since after} 40. Bxd5+ Bxd5 41. Qxd5+ Qxd5 42. Rxd5 {the b4 pawn cannot be saved.}) 40. Bxd5+ Bxd5 41. Qxd5+ Qxd5 42. Rxd5 1-0

GM Daniel King provides video analysis of Nakamura vs Kamsky

Kamsky had excellent chances until time pressure caught up to him

Nakamura proved not only why he is one of the best players of the world, but also why he is largely regarded as one of the best blitz players

Kamsky came downstairs immediately after the game to the press room to check what exactly went wrong. Here he is using Sabrina Chevannes' laptop, very clearly pink.

Carlsen against Aronian was a strange affair as Aronian's Bf4 was not as strong as he thought. Despite the fact that Melkumyan had already used the variation, Aronian claims he had invented it himself and "shared the idea with friends that maybe this was not so stupid... but maybe this game proves that it is". Both players agreed that Black was already a little better after 8...Ne4! Without the resource of d5, which Aronian decided not to play, Black obtained good central counterplay. The Norwegian player claimed that he had many times played this Dutch variation online against an International Master who kept using Bf4 against him, but that he had very good results.

Aronian described his position as very unpleasant, but that it was a key part of chess to be able to defend such positions. Once Carlsen allowed Ra1 it seemed that most of his problems had gone away. Carlsen himself blamed his indecision to not act quicker on why he didn't win. "It's a dissapointing result, of course" remarked the world number one.

Carlsen wanted to play the Dutch partially to save the honor of Norwegians in this opening: Kamsky beat Hammer in the Tromso World Cup with this opening with black.

Aronian's idea was something he had shared with his friends before, but Carlsen had already seen it

[Event "Sinquefield Cup"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2013.09.10"] [Round "2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A85"] [WhiteElo "2813"] [BlackElo "2862"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez, Alejandro"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. d4 f5 {Already something to talk about. The Dutch is not a common guest in top level chess, but two other players in this tournament are known to use it: Kamsky and Nakamura!} 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. Nc3 {The setups with a quick g3 and b3 are more common, but Aronian has a specific idea in mind.} Bg7 5. Bf4 $5 {A favorite of Hrant Melkumyan, an Armenian that lives in Berlin like Aronian. It is possible that Aronian got the idea from him.} d6 6. e3 Nc6 {basically new, but since Black's only plan is to play e5 anyways the move makes sense.} 7. Be2 (7. d5 e5 $1 {is the typical response against d5 when there is a bishop on f4.} 8. dxc6 exf4 9. cxb7 Bxb7 10. exf4 Qe7+ {gives Black a superior position despite being a pawn down.}) 7... O-O 8. O-O Ne4 $1 {The point of this move is to allow Black to push e5. There are other ways of doing this, like Qe8, but they are far more awkward while this is natural and direct.} 9. h3 e5 {Black has achieved e5 while it is unclear exactly what White has achieved. Carlsen has already equalized.} 10. Bh2 exd4 11. exd4 Ng5 $1 {Taking away the protection of the d4 pawn will force this diagonal open: a nice strategical advantage as the bishop on h2 will not be able to oppose the one on g7.} 12. Nxg5 Qxg5 13. f4 {a strange move as White is at least temporarily burrying his bishop. He hopes to maneouver it soon to g1 for it to regain its power.} Qf6 14. d5 Nd4 15. Kh1 c5 $1 {Securing the diagonal and giving b5 ideas a sharper edge.} 16. Bd3 Bd7 17. Bg1 Rae8 18. Qd2 a6 19. Rad1 {Already Black's position is more comfortable. By induction from the Benoni, it is clear that if Black achieves the b5 break and achieves a powerful bishop on g7 he will be in the driver's seat.} Rb8 20. a4 Qd8 $1 {A smart regrouping of the queen. Black only needs one piece to control the long diagonal.} 21. Rb1 Qa5 22. Qd1 Qb4 23. Bf2 Rbe8 24. Be1 Qb3 {The queen finishes her long journey to b3, and with it she exerts so much power that White has no choice but to trade her off. The problem is that this is a bad trade for White, as the Queen is his best defender. Without the queen White is both planless and in a difficult situation, Black will slowly set up b5 and when that break happens Black's pieces will crash through.} 25. Qxb3 Nxb3 26. Bc2 {Aronian was down to less than ten minutes at this point. He started pacing a lot around this point, while Carlsen stayed at his board constantly thinking.} Na5 {It was tempting to put the knight on d4 again, but both moves are about as problematic for White as now the c4 pawn is not easily defended.} 27. Bd3 $1 Re3 28. Rd1 Rb8 $6 {Black continues with this plan of breaking on b5. Magnus has shuffled his rooks a lot, but they now find themselves in strong positions which is why Aronian takes care of that immediately. However it might have been better to immediately place the knight on a5 back to d4 before anything else.} (28... Rxd3 $5 {was his original idea, but Carlsen didn't see anything clear at the end and decided not to go for the complications.} 29. Rxd3 Nxc4 $13) 29. Bf2 Ree8 30. Ra1 $1 {Aronian is an excellent player, and sometimes it is most important to shine when you are in difficult positions. This important move allows the rook to diminish the effects of a possible b5, as the a-file will be open in its favor.} Bd4 31. Kg1 {Aronian took the opportunity where he felt Black's advantage had slip and the fact that Carlsen had dropped significantly in the clock to offer a draw in this position.} Be3 32. Bxe3 Rxe3 33. Rad1 Rbe8 34. Kf2 Nb3 35. Rfe1 $1 {With the trade of all the rooks, White has nothing to worry about.} Rxe1 36. Rxe1 Rxe1 37. Kxe1 Nd4 38. Kd2 Kf7 39. Be2 Kf6 40. Bd1 a5 1/2-1/2 {A nice save for Levon Aronian.} *

Carlsen just played Rb8, trying to break with b5 - but that left his knight stranded on a5 and the win slipped away

WFM Arianne Caoili, Aronian's girlfriend, flew from Rome to provide moral support

Photos by Alejandro Ramirez and Sabrina Chevannes

Standings

Schedule

Round 01 – September 09 2013, 13:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2862
1-0
Kamsky, Gata 2741
Nakamura, Hikaru 2772
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2813
Round 02 – September 10 2013, 13:00h
Aronian, Levon 2813
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2862
Nakamura, Hikaru 2772
1-0
Kamsky, Gata 2741
Round 03 – September 11 2013, 13:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2862
-
Nakamura, Hikaru 2772
Kamsky, Gata 2741
-
Aronian, Levon 2813
Round 04 – September 13 2013, 13:00h
Kamsky, Gata 2741
-
Carlsen, Magnus 2862
Aronian, Levon 2813
-
Nakamura, Hikaru 2772
Round 05 – September 14 2013, 13:00h
Nakamura, Hikaru 2772
-
Magnus, Carlsen 2862
Aronian, Levon 2813
-
Kamsky, Gata 2741
Round 06 – September 15 2013, 11:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2862
-
Aronian, Levon 2813
Kamsky, Gata 2741
-
Nakamura, Hikaru 2780

The games start at 20:00h European time, 22:00h Moscow, 2 p.m. New York. You can find your regional starting time here. The commentary on Playchess begins one hour after the start of the games and is free for premium members.

Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

 


Topics Sinquefield
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