Chess Classic: Nakamura's comeback

7/30/2009 – On the first day of the Chess960 World Championship in Mainz a somewhat jet-lagged Hikaru Nakamura had scored a disappointing 1.0/3 points. On the second day the American GM fought back, winning all three games and bringing Levon Aronian into the danger zone of not qualifying for the final. But the Armenian did and Thursday will bring a clash between the two.

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Chess Classic Mainz 2009

The 2009 Chess Classic will take place from July 27 to August 2 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. The event includes tournaments and Opens in traditional and Random Chess, with stars like the current World Champion Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian of Armenia, strong Russian junior GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and top German GM Arkadij Naiditsch. Schedule below.

Draws Don’t Count: Exciting Day 2 at Chess960 World Championship

By Johannes Fischer

The second day of the Chess960 World Championship promised exciting chess: While Levon Aronian with 3 out of 3 seemed to be almost certain to play in the final, Hikaru Nakamura, Victor Bologan and Sergei Movsesian all had 1 point and could still cherish hopes for a spot in the final – provided things went right. Things became exciting indeed, but differently than expected.


Grim determination: Hikaru Nakamura on the second day of the Chess960 championship

Nakamura in particular was determined not to repeat the events from the previous day. As a result he invested much more time in the opening, which proved to be a good approach. Aronian was the first to suffer from the “new” Nakamura. The Armenian got nothing out of the opening and made life really difficult for himself when blundering a pawn. Nakamura seized the opportunity, grabbed the pawn and steered the game safely into a won endgame.


Aronian struggling against Nakamura in round four

Meanwhile Bologan suffered from a miscalculation in the opening, which gave his opponent Movsesian a clear advantage. Though Movsesian let some of this advantage slip and gave Bologan more chances than he might have hoped for, Bologan returned the compliment in mutual time trouble, by missing the most stubborn defense and allowing Movsesian to score.


Viktor Bologan of Moldova

With 1 out of 4 Bologan really had to get going. And that’s exactly what he did by defeating Levon Aronian in a well played game. Meanwhile, Nakamura and Movsesian continued the strange gambit they like to employ in their games. As Nakamura said in the press conference: “Every time we play, the player who has an advantage after the opening, seems to lose.” Which led Movsesisan to remark: “next time I know what I have to do. I will give him the better position.” In Mainz, however, Movsesian lacked this wisdom. He was clearly better after the opening but suddenly Nakamura’s pieces came into play and in an attempt to bail out Movsesian sacrificed a piece to achieve a perpetual. But Nakamura’s king found a way to escape the checks and secured his boss the second win of the day.


GM Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia, rated 2734

Thus, with one round to go, Movsesian and Bologan had 2 out of 5 while Aronian and Nakamura had 3 out of 5. But because Bologan had to play against Nakamura and Movsesian had to play Aronian all four players still had a chance to qualify for the final.

Probably Aronian needs a rush of adrenaline to play his best. At any rate, when his place in the final seemed to be in danger, he suddenly rediscovered the form he had shown on day 1 and scored a fine win against Movsesian. Going back to the form he had shown on day 1 was exactly what Nakamura did not want to do. So he continued to play in the same determined fashion he had shown in the two previous games and won quickly against an overly aggressive Bologan – and “got the job done” as he put it in the press conference.


The two finalists, Aronian and Nakamura, at the press conference

Thus Aronian and Nakamura both finished with 4 out of 6 to qualify for the final while Bologan and Movsesian will fight for place three.

Today, the players did their best to make it difficult to name a clear favorite for the matches. While Aronian dominated day 1 by scoring 3 out of 3 Nakamura did the same on day 2. But if the preliminaries are anything to go by, we can expect a wonderful and exciting final. Twelve games were played in the preliminaries, none ended with a draw. Not to mention the many interesting motifs and fine combinations the spectators saw.


The setup for Chess960 in the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz

The final will begin tomorrow, Thursday, 30th July, 18:30. Games will be transmitted live on the Internet – and should not be missed.

All pictures by Christian Bossert for Chess Tigers/Chess Classic


Schedule of remaining events

GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship – July 31 to August 2nd, 2009

Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Course of events: Fri, 31 July: first rounds 1, 2 and 3; Sat, 1 Aug.: second rounds 4, 5 and 6, possible tiebreak; Sun, 2 Aug: four-game matches, big and small final, possible tiebreak, award ceremony. Start time of rounds: 18:30h, 19:30h, 20:30h, final additionally: 21:30h. Participants:

Player Nation Title
Rating
WRnk
Viswanathan Anand India  GM
2783
2
Levon Aronian Armenia  GM
2754
6
Arkadij Naiditsch Germany  GM
2710
26
Ian Nepomniachtchi Russia  GM
2628
113

Full details

16th ORDIX Open – August 1-2, 2009

Eleven rounds Rapid Chess Open, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration until Sat 1 Aug, 11:30h. Sat 1 August: rounds 1-5; Sun 2 August: rounds 6-11. Start of rounds: Sat 12:00h, Sun 10:00h. Award ceremony Sun 17:30h. Details.

FiNet Chess960 Open – July 30-31, 2009

Eleven rounds Chess960 Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Thu 30 July: rounds 1-5; Fri 31 July: rounds 6-11. Start of rounds: Thu 12:00h and Fri 10:00h. Award Ceremony Fri 17:30h. Details.

3rd Mini-ORDIX (28th July) and the 3rd Mini-FiNet (29th July)

3rd Mini-ORDIX Open: Rapid Chess Open for Children and Talents U14, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration
until Tue, July 28, 10:30h. Seven rounds: 11:00h, 12:00h, 13:00h, 14:00h, 15:00h, 16:00h, 17:00h. Award ceremony: 18:00h. Details.

3rd Mini-FiNet Open: Rapid Chess960 Open for Children and Talents U14, 20min/game + 5s/move. Registration
until Wed, July 29, 10:30h. Seven rounds: 11:00h, 12:00h, 13:00h, 14:00h, 15:00h, 16:00h, 17:00h. Award ceremony: 18:00h. Details.

5th Livingston Chess960 Computer World Championship– 29-31 July 2009

Rapid Chess, 20min/game + 5s/move. Course of events: Wed 30 July: first set of three rounds; Thurs 31 July: second set of three rounds; Fri 1 Aug.: four-game matches, big and small final possle tiebreak (5min/game + 5s/move). Start time of rounds: 11:00h, 12:30h, 14:00h, final additionally: 15:30 h, tiebreak: 17:00h. Participants: Rybka, Deep Shredder, plus two qualifiers. Details.


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