1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 The Marshall. Nigel has played this a handful of times over the years but Hikaru was probably not expecting it.
9.exd5 e4!? The Steiner variation. It may be that, after GMs have analysed this game thoroughly, that the exclamation and question marks shown here swap places. "This is the sort of recklessness that happens when you've got 1/2/4" (Short). "I had an idea Nigel would play something a little bit crazy" (Nakamura). Nigel claimed that Malcolm Pein plays this line and jokingly suggested that he played it in his honour but no game by our esteemed tournament director could be found on the Mega database.
10.dxc6 exf3 11.g3 [This logical continuation, simply aiming at emerging from the opening with an extra pawn, was more or less improvised by Hikaru at the board. It has been played before but barely mentioned in books on this line. "The book recommendation is 11.d4 - maybe there will be a new book recommendation after this game" (Short); 11.Qxf3 is another way to play and one chosen by Bobby Fischer a couple of times.]
11...Re8 12.d4 [Black's innocuous-looking last move actually carried a payload of venom. If 12.Qxf3? Bc5! and White is suddenly vulnerable to tricks against his rook and back rank, e.g. 13.Rf1 Bg4! 14.Qg2 Qc8 , etc.]
12...Bg4 13.Bg5 h6 [13...Qd6 14.Qd3 h6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd2 Qxc6 17.Qg6!? Be6 18.Qh5 rounds up the f3 pawn and ensures White keeps his one-pawn advantage.]
14.Bxf6 Bxf6 White's decision to give up his dark-squared bishop wasn't too problematic as the residual black dark-squared bishop doesn't have much of a future against White's preponderance of pawns on black squares.
15.Nd2 Qd6 16.h3! Bh5 [16...Rxe1+ 17.Qxe1 Bxh3 18.Qe4 and White will soon be a pawn up once again, with an enhanced positional advantage.]
17.Qc2! With the threat of Qf5, embarrassing the h5 bishop.
17...Bg5 18.Ne4 Qxc6 [If 18...Qg6 White can step up the pressure with 19.Qd3 and then 11 Bc2, while Black has only succeeded in bottling up his own pieces on the kingside.]
19.Nxg5 hxg5 20.Qf5 Nigel told us that, paradoxically, he still had some belief in his position while he was a pawn down, but now the material was level, he completely despaired of it.
20...Rxe1+ [20...Qg6 21.Qxg6 Bxg6 22.Bd5 wins the f3 pawn, leading to a comfortable technical win.]
21.Rxe1 Re8 22.Re5 [Not 22.Rxe8+? Qxe8 when the back rank threat would necessitate 23.Qe5 Qxe5 24.dxe5 and White has endangered his winning chances.]
22...Rxe5 23.dxe5 Bg6 [Once again 23...Qg6 allows 24.Qxg6 Bxg6 25.Bd5 and the f3 pawn drops off.]
24.Qxg5 Qe4 25.Qd8+ Kh7 26.Qh4+ Qxh4 27.gxh4 f6 [Annoyingly for Black, the doubled h-pawns almost help White's cause. If he tries to defend his f-pawn with 27...Bh5 the white king can now march out to attack it via h2 and g3 and then play Bd1 to win it.]
28.exf6 gxf6 29.Bd5 a5 30.b4 axb4 31.cxb4 Bd3 32.Kh2 Bc4 33.Be4+ [33.Bxc4?? we can discount; 33.Bxf3? is also sub-optimal as after 33...Bxa2 Black might have a few tricks based on driving the b-pawn through (on a very good day, anyway).]
33...Kh6 34.a3 [34.a3 At this point in the commentary room, Nigel concluded the session with a short snatch of song with the first line "What do you get when you sac a pawn?" to the tune of the 1960s hit "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" by Bobbie Gentry (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIVOjfadGf0). It was a show-stopping rendition, with the crowd on their feet begging for more and throwing garlands of flowers. A whole new career suddenly opens up for Nigel - this year Olympia, next year the Albert Hall. You can hear it for yourself on video 5.3 at the website. Nigel graciously attributed the libretto to former British champion and joker extraordinaire GM Jonathan Mestel. But, returning reluctantly to the chess, Black is right to quit at this point: 34...Be6 35.Bxf3 Kg6 36.Kg3 f5 37.Kf4 Bd7 38.h5+ Kf6 39.Be2 Bc6 40.Bd3 Bd7 41.h6 is hopeless.] 1-0