Chess Classic: Nakamura wins 960 World Championship

by Johannes Fischer
7/31/2009 – On the first day of the Chess960 World Rapid Chess Championship in Mainz Levon Aronian had dominated, winning all three of his games. On the second day US GM Hikaru Nakamura had won all of his to get into the finals. And there he beat Aronian in the first three of four games to take the 2009 title of 960 World Championship. Illustrated report. with video.

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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.

Nakamura wins three in a row to become new World Champion

When Levon Aronian and Nakamura sat down to play the final of the Chess960 World Rapid Chess Championship it was difficult to name a clear favorite. In the preliminaries Aronian had dominated the first day, Nakamura the second. Both are known as extremely strong blitz and rapid players, and both had shown their Chess960 skills on more than one occasion.
Taking this into account, the match was surprisingly one-sided. Nakamura simply won the first three games to become new World Champion – in a very convincing manner.

US American GM Hikaru Nakamura

In the first game Aronian opted with Black for an elastic, dynamic set-up. But when White managed to create weaknesses in Black’s camp, which he soon occupied with his pieces, Black seemed to be in trouble. In a bid for counterplay Aronian decided to give material but Nakamura defended coolly and sent his king from the queenside to the kingside, where it finally was safe. With his last swindling chances gone Aronian resigned.

Nakamura - Aronian
Chess960 Rapid World Championship Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (7.1), 30.07.2009

Starting position

1.f4 f5 2.Bd4 d6 3.Qg1 c5 4.Bc3 Nc7 5.g4 e6 6.d3 Bf7 7.e4 Ne7 8.Ne2 Qg8 9.Nb3 b6 10.0-0-0 g6 11.Nd2 0-0-0 12.Bh3 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Ned5 14.Bf6 Rd7 15.c4 Nb4 16.a3 Nc6 17.Bc3 Be7 18.g5 d5 19.Nf6 Bxf6 20.Bxf6 Qf8 21.Nc3 Qd6 22.Qf2 Kb7 23.Kb1 Rf8 24.cxd5 Nxd5 25.Nxd5 Qxd5 26.d4

The game continued 26...e5 27.Bxd7 Nxd4 28.Rxd4 cxd4 29.Rxe5 Qa2+ 30.Kc1 Qa1+ 31.Kc2 d3+ 32.Kxd3 Qd1+ 33.Qd2 Bc4+ 34.Ke3 Qg1+ 35.Kf3 h5 36.Re1 Qc5 37.Be7 Bd5+ 38.Kg3 h4+ 39.Kh3 1-0.

The first game in the fight for third place between Bologan and Movsesian took a different course. Here it was Bologan who pressed with White and advanced his pawns early on. However, this gave Black good counterchances. He forced an exchange of queens and attacked the weak white pawns afterwards. Bologan found no good way to defend them and soon had a lost position, which Movsesian converted into a full point.

Inspired by this win Movsesian played a little brilliancy in the second game. Sacrificing an exchange, he pushed on the kingside, in the center and finally on the queenside, where he mated Black’s king.

Movsesian - Bologan
Chess960 Rapid World Championship Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (8.2)

Starting position

1.g4 g5 2.Qh3 Ne6 3.e3 Nd6 4.d4 h5 5.d5 Ng7 6.gxh5 Ngf5 7.Nd3 0-0-0 8.e4 Nd4 9.Ne3 f5 10.e5 f4 11.Ng4 Nc4 12.0-0-0 Ne2+ 13.Kb1 Nxg1 14.Rxg1 b5 15.Rd1 Qf5 16.b3 Nb6 17.Nc5 e6 18.Be4 Qf8 19.d6 f3 20.Bxa8 Nxa8

21.Nf6 g4 22.Qf1 c6 23.Qe1 1-0.

While Movsesian was brimming with confidence Aronian appeared shaken after his loss in the first game. At any rate, it hard to find another explanation for the blunder he committed in the second game against Nakamura: After to a relatively simple oversight Aronian lost knight and game. “Probably I had a bad day”, he commented wryly in the press conference.

Hikaru Nakamura in full concentration

Aronian - Nakamura
Chess960 Rapid World Championship Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (8.2)

Starting position

1.b3 b5 2.f3 f6 3.d4 f5 4.Nd3 g6 5.Qf2 Bf6 6.g3 Qh6 7.e3 Ne6 8.Qe2 Nb6 9.Nc3 a6 10.Nc5 Nxc5 11.dxc5 Qg7 12.Qd3 b4 13.cxb6 cxb6 14.Nd5 Bxa1 15.Nc7+ Kf7 16.0-0 Bc3 17.f4 Bxh1 18.Kxh1 Qf6 19.Rbd1

19...Qc6+ 20.Qd5+ Qxd5+ 21.Rxd5 Rb7 22.Nxa6 Ra8 23.Nxb4 Bxb4 24.a4 Bc5 25.Re1 e6 26.Rd3 d5 0-1.

With Nakamura and Movsesian both leading 2-0 the final seemed to come to a swift end. The match Aronian vs. Nakamura in fact ended quickly. To get back into the match Aronian used lots of time in the third game – time which he later lacked. He got lost in the middlegame complications and fell victim to a surprising attack by White.

“Probably I had a bad day” – Levon Aronian

A convincing victory, which made Nakamura new Chess960 Rapid World Champion.The fourth game between Aronian and Nakamura was just a formal affair, and maybe it was the lack of tension which made Aronian spoil an advantageous position into a draw which led to a final result of 3.5:0.5 for Nakamura.

A youthful fan hamming with adult clothing

Things went less smoothly for Movsesian. In the third round he was not able to cope with Bologan’s aggressive play and lost, which made the fourth game crucial. But Movsesian quickly recovered from the loss and played the fourth game in a very professional manner. Despite Bologan’s efforts to stir up trouble Movsesian managed to keep everything under control and steered the game into a completely drawn rook ending. After a couple of moves Bologan accepted the inevitable and agreed to a draw. Movsesian thus won the match 2.5:1.5 and became third in the Chess960 Rapid World Championship.

With only 2 draws from 20 games it was an altogether exciting World Championship, which may help to give Chess960 the popularity it deserves. As Levon Aronian remarked at the press conference: “Chess960 is healthy and good for your chess. If you get into it and not just move the pieces to achieve known positions it really improves your chess vision.”

Tomorrow, in the GRENKE LEASING Rapid World Championship, where he will meet Vishy Anand, Arkadij Naiditsch and Ian Nepomniachtchi Aronian has a chance to show how Chess960 improved his classical chess vision.

Pictures by Christian Bossert and Frederic Friedel

Video report by GM Robert Fontaine for Europe Echecs

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
Viswanathan Anand India  GM
Levon Aronian Armenia  GM
Arkadij Naiditsch Germany  GM
Ian Nepomniachtchi Russia  GM

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.



ChessBase reports

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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