Nakamura beats Caruana, wins Chessable Masters

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/8/2023 – An exciting pair of matches, featuring seven decisive games, saw Hikaru Nakamura beating Fabiano Caruana twice to win the Chessable Masters. Nakamura played the Smith-Morra Gambit twice with white, including a game in which he only needed a draw. In Division II, Nodirbek Abdusattorov got the better of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to secure a spot in Division I of the next Champions Chess Tour event.

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Seven decisive, thrilling games

Much like in the American Cup, the Chessable Masters saw two players facing each other three times in the deciding phases of the tournament. And, once again, it was Hikaru Nakamura who emerged victorious.

Unlike what happened in the American Cup, though, Nakamura came from behind this time around. The 5-time US champion lost the final in the winners’ bracket against Fabiano Caruana, but then beat Magnus Carlsen in the final of the losers’ bracket to get a rematch against his compatriot. Since he came from the losers’ bracket, Nakamura needed to beat Caruana twice in a row to win the event, and that is precisely what he did, in an eventful pair of matches.

In the first, 4-game match, the contenders traded wins with black in the first two encounters. Nakamura then grabbed two wins in a row to force the rematch. Playing black in game 3, the famed streamer prevailed in an endgame position with queens and bishops of opposite colours. Caruana was two pawns down when he made the final, losing mistake.


Due to the presence of opposite-coloured bishops in a position with both kings open, White still had hopes to find a perpetual check to save a draw. Caruana’s 52.Qe8 was not the way to do it here, though — the one move that kept the fight going was 52.Be5, preventing the black queen from manoeuvring along the all-important long diagonal.

After the text, Nakamura found 52...Qb2+ 53.Kg1 Qd4+ 54.Be3 Qg7+


Caruana resigned, since his king has no escape from the mating attack that Black is ready to construct with his queen, bishop and h4-pawn.

All games - Grand Final


Grand Final Reset

The organizers have dubbed the match following the Grand Final — only necessary if the victor of the winners’ bracket loses — the Grand Final Reset. Once again Nakamura got black in the first game, and once again the contenders traded wins with black. In the ‘Reset’, only two games are played ‘in regulation’. Following the pair of draws, Nakamura won with black in Armageddon to secure tournament victory.

Caruana was a worthy opponent, and he got to play a remarkable move in the second game of the Reset. This position was reached from a Smith-Morra Gambit, an opening Nakamura confessed to have prepared for Magnus Carlsen (who did not play the Sicilian in their Thursday’s encounter)


27...Qa3+ is a beautiful killer blow! Nakamura resigned after 28.Ka1 Bxd1 — he had calculated that 28.Kxa3 fails to 28...Nd3+ (discovered check) 29.Ka4 Rb4+ 30.Ka3 Rbxd4+ (diagram).


Black will checkmate his opponent on the next move.

All games - Grand Final Reset


Nakamura’s recap: “Dear YouTube, YESSSSSSSSSSS!!”

Abdusattorov wins Division II

Similarly to Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave gained a rematch against the player who had beat him in the winners’ bracket final. To get his spot in the Grand Final, MVL defeated Anish Giri on Thursday. The Frenchman, however, could not force a Reset, as he was defeated by Nodirbek Abdusattorov for a second time in three days, this time by a 2½-1½ score.

With his win, Abdusattorov gained a spot in Division I of the next Champions Chess Tour event (Nakamura, Caruana and Carlsen also qualified). The Uzbek prodigy had a remarkable performance, convincingly beating Giri, Arjun Erigaisi and Denis Lazavik before getting the better of MVL twice in a row.

MVL did get to play a nice final move in game 2 of the match, though.


36.Qxe8+ prompted Abdusattorov’s resignation, since 36...Kxe8 would be replied by 37.Ng5+ and White will emerge with an extra rook.

GM Karsten Müller analysed the very interesting ending played in the fourth game of the match. Beautiful breakthroughs below!


All games - Grand Final



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.