Garry Kasparov still has the magic!

by Sagar Shah
4/29/2016 – It was exciting nine rounds of blitz chess. Day one ended with Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So taking the lead with 5.0/9. While the duo played well, the player of the day was surely Garry Kasparov. The 13th World Champion showed that he still is a force to reckon with as he played some scintillating games. We have loads of analysis, interesting moments and a touch move incident which was handled very maturely by Hikaru Nakamura.

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Photos by Lennart Ootes

The entire world was looking forward to this ultimate blitz event where Garry Kasparov was going to lock horns against three of the best players in the world. This is what the event was all about:

  • It is a four player sextuple Round Robin. Each player will play against the other six times. 18 rounds of chess divided equally over two days.
  • The time control is 5 mins + 3 seconds delay (not increment)

The criteria for selection was the top three finishers of the US Chess Championships 2016 -
Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So. It couldn't have got better.

Garry Kasparov is not going to keep his winnings for himself!

On the first day we witnessed nine rounds of action packed blitz chess! And this is how the standings looked like at the end of the day:

While many expect Nakamura to win this tournament hands down, Wesley So's performance was quite unexpected. Wesley and Hikaru lead the tournament and are followed by Kasparov just half a point behind. Caruana is currently on the last spot, but that is only because he lost all of his last three games. Instead of going through the key moments round by round, let's have a look at the players individually and how they performed. It is of course natural to start with the star attraction of the event, Garry Kimovich Kasparov!

Garry Kasparov

That will to win, the fire in his eyes, the intent in his moves!
Garry Kasparov was back doing the thing he does best - play chess!

The last time we saw Garry at the chess board was exactly a year ago against Nigel Short. Prior to that he had played some exhibition matches against Anatoly Karpov. But Short and Karpov are nowhere close to the level of Nakamura, Caruana and So. It was surely alien territory for all the viewers as well as Kasparov himself. How was he going to fare? He silenced all his critics when in the first round he began with a win over Wesley So.

Kasparov - So

Wesley played the move f6 which turned out to be a critical mistake. Garry jumped on his opportunity and played the strong 21.Bd5+! with the neat point being that 21...Kh8 lost to 22.exf6! and the queen is not hanging on e2 as 23.fxg7 is a mate! Wesley had to sacrifice an exchange with 21...Rxd5 and after 22.cxd5 it was quite easy for Kasparov to score his first win!

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Kasparov, Garry"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [Annotator "Amruta Mokal"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 {0} e5 {0} 2. Nf3 {0} Nc6 {0} 3. d4 {0} exd4 {0} 4. Nxd4 {0} Nf6 {0} 5. Nxc6 {0} bxc6 {0} 6. e5 {0} Qe7 {0} 7. Qe2 {0} Nd5 {0} 8. c4 {0} Ba6 {0} 9. b3 {0} g6 {0} 10. Ba3 {0} c5 {54} (10... Qg5 11. g3 Nc3 (11... Bxa3 12. Nxa3 Nc3 13. h4 $1 $14) 12. Nxc3 Bxa3 13. Ne4 (13. f4 Qe7 14. Bg2 O-O 15. O-O f6) 13... Qe7 (13... Qxe5 $4 14. Nf6+ $18) 14. Nf6+ Kf8 15. Bg2 (15. Bh3 $5 Bb4+ 16. Kf1 d5 17. Kg2 Kg7 18. Rac1 Rad8 19. Rhd1 $14) 15... Bb4+ 16. Kf1 Rd8 17. Qb2 Ba3 18. Qc3 Bb4 19. Qb2 Ba3 20. Qc3 (20. Qd4 Bc5 21. Qf4 Kg7 22. Re1 Bb4 23. Re2 d5 $132) 20... Bb4 {1/2-1/2 (20) Kasparov,G (2805)-Ivanchuk,V (2710) Amsterdam 1994 CBM 041 [Ftacnik,L]}) (10... Qh4 $1 11. Bxf8 (11. g3 $2 Qd4 12. Bb2 Bb4+ $19) (11. Qd2 Qe4+ 12. Be2 Bxa3 13. Nxa3 Nf4) (11. e6 $2 fxe6 (11... Qd4 $2 12. e7 $1 $18) 12. Qb2 (12. Qe5 Qf6 $17) 12... Nf6 $17) 11... Qd4 12. Bg7 Rg8 13. Qc2 Qxa1 14. cxd5 Bxf1 15. e6 Qxg7 16. exd7+ Kd8 17. Qxc6 $13) (10... Nb4 { is the best answer to Garry's Novelty of 1994.} 11. Bb2 Bg7 12. a3 Nd5 13. g3 O-O 14. Bg2 Rae8 15. O-O Bxe5 16. Qxe5 Qxe5 17. Bxe5 Rxe5 18. cxd5 Bxf1 19. Kxf1 cxd5 20. Nd2 c6 {0-1 (55) Andreikin,D (2688)-Lysyj,I (2633) Moscow 2012}) 11. g3 $1 {15} (11. Qe4 Nb6 (11... f5 $5 {A very interesting idea suggested by the computer} 12. Qxd5 c6 13. Qd6 Qxd6 14. exd6 Bg7 15. Kd2 Bxa1 16. Nc3 Kf7 17. Bxc5 Rhe8 18. Bd3 Bxc3+ 19. Kxc3 $44 {White should have better chances because of his piece activity. Black doesn't have an entry point on the only open file, and the Bishop is as good as dead.}) 12. Nc3 O-O-O {leads to a normal unclear game}) 11... Bg7 {11} 12. f4 {0} Nb4 {13} (12... O-O {Going for immediate development would have been a practically better try for So.} 13. Bg2 c6 14. Nd2 d6 15. Ne4 dxe5 16. Bxc5 Qc7 $14) 13. Bg2 {10} Rd8 {2} 14. Nc3 {8} O-O {14} 15. Bb2 {66} d5 {33} 16. a3 {0} d4 {0} 17. axb4 {0} dxc3 {0} 18. Bxc3 {5} cxb4 {0} 19. Bb2 {1} Bc8 {0} 20. O-O {8} f6 $2 {0} (20... Qc5+ $142 21. Kh1 a5 $14) 21. Bd5+ {44} Rxd5 {0} 22. cxd5 {0} Qc5+ {0} 23. Rf2 {0} fxe5 {11} ( 23... Qxd5 24. exf6 Bxf6 25. Bxf6 Rxf6 26. Rxa7 $18) 24. Bxe5 {0} Bxe5 {60} 25. Qxe5 {19} Rd8 {0} 26. Rd1 {11} Bg4 {0} 27. Qd4 {1} Qa5 {12} 28. Rdd2 {5} Re8 { 12} 29. Kg2 {4} Qb5 {1} 30. h3 {23} Bf5 {0} 31. g4 {0} Be4+ {24} 32. Kh2 {0} c5 {0} 33. Qf6 {1} c4 {2} 34. d6 {4} Bc6 {0} 35. f5 {3} Rf8 {13} 36. Qe6+ {0} Kg7 {1} 37. d7 {0} Qc5 {25} 38. Qd6 {5 1-0 (38) Kasparov,G (2812)-So,W (2773) Saint Louis 2016 [ChessBase]} 1-0

While the first round win was surely a confidence booster for Garry, a bigger test awaited him in the second round in the form of Hikaru Nakamura. It was really interesting to see Kasparov essaying the King's Indian Defence with the black pieces. It was a battle between one of the greatest exponents of the KID that our game as ever seen (Kasparov) against the present day King's Indian expert (Nakamura). Garry played the opening confidently, gained a comfortable position, but Hikaru fought back and the players reached the following position.

Nakamura - Kasparov

In the above position Kasparov played his knight from d5 to b4, let go of it, then suddenly noticed that 27.Bc5! would lose the game. So he picked his knight again and moved it to f4. "I was not sure whether I had left the knight. In blitz it is difficult to tell," said Garry in his interview with Maurice Ashley at the end of the day. "I looked at Hikaru and the arbiter. If they would have claimed I would have resigned the game."

That moment when Kasparov picked up his knight on b4 after having let go of it.
You can see Hikaru's face that says that he has seen it!

Kasparov's reaction when this topic of leaving the piece was brought up

This is what Hikaru had to say about the incident: "It's Garry after all. Maybe I am not treating this event as seriously as he is. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. You hate seeing games decided on blunders like that. So that's the reason why I let it pass." It was truly a great gesture by Nakamura.

Garry came to the event with a very smart decision of avoiding the Berlin by playing the Scotch and the Vienna. In the four games with white when he opened with 1.e4 and his opponent's replied with 1...e5, he scored 3.5/4.

When was the last time you saw the Vienna in top level chess?!

It wouldn't be incorrect to say that Garry was the best player of the day. He made the best moves in most of his games and had dominating positions in all of them. But making the best moves come at a cost - time! And he made huge mistakes in three completely winning positions.

So - Kasparov, Round four

Kasparov, who is Black, is a complete pawn up and has a great position. Over here he blundered big time with the move 25...Nc3?? Wesley just moved his rook to 26.Rc1 and it was all over. Kasparov had to resign.

Wesley played Rc1 and Garry had to stretch out his hand in resignation

Kasparov - So, Round seven

Kasparov has completely outplayed So and is clearly winning here. But in this position he blundered with 41.b7?? The knight on d6 was hanging and Wesley was once again lucky. After 41...Qxd6 Kasparov had to resign.

Nakamura - Kasparov, Round eight

It was Kasparov's (Black's) turn to play. The game had been topsy turvy until this point. Nakamura was winning, then Kasparov was and in the above position after 43...Kxd8, the game would end in a draw. But Garry played 43...Rd5?? and after 44.Nxf7 he couldn't captured the d3 knight due to Ne5+ fork. 

The best part about having Garry back on the board is that he brings the human element with him!

Three whole knights! That's what I blundered today! Yet I am just half a point behind the leaders!

Of course not all of Kasparov's games were filled with mistakes. He also played some sublime chess and here we present two of his finest games of day one. The first one against Nakmura is special because of the simplicity with which Garry finishes off the game and doesn't give his opponent any chances.

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "5.2"] [White "Kasparov, Garry"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Bc4 Ne5 8. Bb3 d6 9. O-O O-O 10. f3 N7c6 11. Kh1 Bb6 12. Na3 Kh8 13. Qd2 Na5 14. Ndb5 Bxe3 15. Qxe3 Qe7 16. Bc2 a6 17. Nd4 c5 18. Ne2 Nac4 19. Nxc4 Nxc4 20. Qc1 f5 21. b3 Nb6 22. c4 fxe4 23. Bxe4 Bf5 24. Ng3 Bxe4 25. Nxe4 Rad8 26. Re1 Rfe8 27. Qd2 Qf8 {Diagram [#] White is better here, but look how Garry finishes off this game in style!} 28. Ng5 $1 Qf6 29. Rxe8+ $1 Rxe8 30. Re1 $1 {It is really not so easy to be accurate when you only have a minute on your clock.} Rxe1+ 31. Qxe1 Nd7 32. Qe8+ Nf8 33. h3 $1 Kg8 34. Ne4 {and soon the d6 pawn fell and Kasparov won the game with ease!} Qf4 35. Qe7 Qc1+ 36. Kh2 Qf4+ 37. Kg1 Qc1+ 38. Kf2 Qb2+ 39. Kg3 h5 40. Nxd6 h4+ 41. Qxh4 Ng6 42. Qe4 Qf6 43. Nf5 Qg5+ 44. Kh2 Nf4 45. g3 Nh5 46. f4 Qd8 47. Qd5+ Qxd5 48. Ne7+ Kf7 49. Nxd5 1-0

This next game will definitely remind you of a 23-year-old Garry Kasparov trying to stamp his authority on his opponents:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B31"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "119"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. c4 Nc7 9. d4 cxd4 10. Qxd4 Ne6 11. Qh4 d6 12. Nc3 dxe5 13. Nxe5 Qd6 14. Nf3 h6 15. Be3 g5 16. Qe4 O-O 17. Qc2 f5 18. Rad1 Qc7 19. Nd4 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 e5 21. Bc5 Re8 22. Bd6 Qf7 23. c5 e4 24. Ne2 Ba6 25. Nd4 Bd3 26. Qa4 {Diagram [#] This was perhaps Kasparov's best game of the day. He played it so brilliantly that all chess fans were surely depressed at the thought of what they had missed in the last eleven years! Only if Garry would not have retired! Here the c6 pawn is attacked, but Garry launches his own attack!} f4 $1 27. Nxc6 f3 $1 28. Nb4 (28. Ne7+ $1) 28... Be2 $1 29. Rc1 (29. Qb3 $17 {it would have been wise to just exchange the queens.}) 29... e3 $1 {When Garry was playing out these moves it seemed like the best player in the world was back on the board.} 30. Qb3 exf2+ 31. Kxf2 Bd4+ {White is unconditionally lost.} 32. Kg3 Qxb3 33. axb3 f2 34. Rh1 Re3+ $1 {Garry took his time and found the best move in the position. It was a pity that he couldn't follow it up with the best moves.} 35. Kxf2 Rae8 (35... Bb5 {was the killer. Re2 is coming up. or even Rxb3. There is no way to avoid losing material.}) 36. Nc6 Rf3+ 37. Ke1 Bb5+ 38. Ne7+ Rxe7+ 39. Bxe7 Re3+ 40. Kd2 Re2+ 41. Kd1 Rxe7 {Black is stil clearly better but in blitz it is not so easy and in the end the game finished in a draw.} 42. Re1 Rc7 43. b4 Bxb2 44. Rb1 Bc3 45. Re6 Rd7+ 46. Kc2 Bd3+ 47. Kxc3 Bxb1 48. Rxh6 Be4 49. b5 Kg7 50. Ra6 Bxg2 51. c6 Re7 52. Kd4 Kf7 53. Ra2 Bf3 54. Kc5 Re5+ 55. Kb4 Be2 56. Rxa7+ Ke6 57. Rb7 Kd6 58. h3 Bxb5 59. Rxb5 Re4+ 60. Kc3 1/2-1/2

Look at how hard Garry is trying to figure out the best way to win. He knows that this is the critical position.

Wesley So

After Wesley lost his first two games at the event it seemed as if he would be the one who would have to fight really hard in order to avoid finishing at the bottom of the table. But as it so happened, at the end of day one he finished on the top! He was given two lucky points by Kasparov, but he did play some excellent games as well, like this one against Hikaru Nakamura:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "3.2"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E53"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 c5 6. Nf3 d5 7. cxd5 cxd4 8. exd4 Nxd5 9. O-O Nc6 10. Bc2 Be7 11. Qd3 g6 12. a3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 b6 14. Re1 Bb7 15. h4 Bxh4 16. Nxh4 Qxh4 17. Re3 Ne7 $6 {Diagram [#]} 18. Rg3 $1 {The threat of Bg5 is really strong.} Nf5 $2 19. Bg5 $1 {The queen is trapped as Qh5 is met with Bd1.} Qh5 20. Bd1 $1 Nxg3 21. Qxg3 $1 {and that is game over!} 1-0


Wesley played his first game with his jacket on against Garry Kasparov, but he soon realized
hat in blitz it is just a big liability! Jacket came off and the points started pouring in!

Have a look at this amazing defensive effort by Wesley So:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "5.1"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A05"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "154"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 c6 5. d4 d5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Bg2 O-O 8. Ne5 e6 9. O-O Nfd7 10. Nf3 Nf6 11. Bf4 Nc6 12. Rc1 Bd7 13. Ne5 Rc8 14. Qd2 Nxe5 15. Bxe5 Bc6 16. Rc2 Ne8 17. Rfc1 Nd6 18. Qf4 g5 19. Qf3 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Nc4 21. Qg4 Nxe5 22. Qd4 Qf6 23. Qxa7 Ra8 24. Qc5 Rfc8 25. Qb4 h5 26. a4 Rd8 27. Nb5 Ng4 28. Rf1 e5 29. Nc7 Rxa4 30. Qb3 e4 31. h3 Ne5 32. Rd1 Rc4 33. Rcd2 Ba4 34. Qxb7 Bxd1 35. Nxd5 Rxd5 36. Rxd5 Rc1 37. Qb8+ Kg7 38. Kh2 Ng6 39. Qa7 Bxe2 40. Qe3 Rc2 41. Bxe4 Rxb2 42. Rf5 Qb6 43. Qxg5 Bc4 44. Kg2 Qd4 45. Rf4 Qe5 46. Qxe5+ Nxe5 47. Rf5 Nd3 48. Bxd3 Bxd3 49. Rxh5 Be4+ 50. Kf1 Bf3 51. Re5 Rb1+ 52. Re1 Bg2+ 53. Ke2 Rxe1+ 54. Kxe1 Bxh3 {Diagram [#] Caruana has played an excellent game until this point and is completely winning. But in blitz it is not always so easy.} 55. Ke2 Kf6 56. Kf3 Kf5 57. Ke3 Bg2 58. f3 Bh1 59. Kf2 Ke5 60. Ke3 f5 $2 {A crucial error. Can you guess the reason why? Well the f5 pawn just shut the route for the bishop to get back into the game. Now the best it can go to is h3 but from there, there is no way out of this cage!} (60... Bg2 61. Kf2 Bh3 62. Ke3 Bd7 63. Kd3 f5 64. Ke3 Bb5 {and now that the bishop is on the right side, this is just winning.} 65. Kf2 Kd4 66. Kg2 Ke3 $19) 61. Kf2 Kd4 62. Ke2 Kd5 63. Ke3 Ke5 64. Kf2 Kd4 65. Ke2 Bg2 66. Kf2 Bh3 67. Ke2 Kd5 (67... Ke5 68. Ke1 $1 {keeping the f1 square controlled is the key.}) 68. Ke3 {Threatening Kf4.} Ke5 69. Kf2 Kd4 70. Ke2 Kd5 71. Ke3 Ke5 72. Kf2 Kf6 73. Ke3 Kg5 74. Kf2 Kh5 75. Ke3 Kg5 76. Kf2 Kf6 77. Ke3 Ke5 1/2-1/2

No way through! That was a weird fortess!

If you see the broadcast you will realize that one thing that separated Wesley from the rest was his sheer calmness on the board. The minimum fuss with which he made his moves was exemplary. This was perhaps one of the reasons why he performed so well.

Hikaru Nakamura

Nakamura was definitely the favourite going into this event. He is the number two ranked blitz player in the world behind Magnus Carlsen and sports a massive blitz Elo of 2883. But today was not his day as he wasn't able to convert better positions and very often slid into completely losing situations. It was only his resourcefulness that helped him score points from absolutely impossible situations. Have a look at this one:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A18"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "133"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 d5 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. bxc3 Qxf6 7. d4 Nc6 8. Nf3 e5 9. Bg5 Qg6 10. d5 Nb8 11. h4 h6 12. h5 Qd6 13. Be3 Nd7 14. Qa4 c6 15. Rd1 Be7 16. Bd3 Qc7 17. O-O O-O 18. Rfe1 cxd5 19. cxd5 Bd6 20. Nh4 Nf6 21. c4 b6 22. Bf5 Nxh5 23. Bxc8 Qxc8 24. Qc2 f5 25. Bc1 Qd7 26. Bb2 e4 27. Ng6 Rfe8 28. Qe2 Nf4 29. Nxf4 Bxf4 30. Qh5 Qf7 31. Qh3 Bd6 32. Ba3 Rad8 33. Bxd6 Rxd6 34. Re3 f4 35. Ree1 Rg6 36. d6 f3 37. d7 Rd8 38. g3 Re6 39. Kh2 Re7 40. Rd4 e3 41. Rxe3 Rxe3 42. fxe3 Qe7 43. Rd3 f2 44. Qf5 Rf8 {Diagram [#] White seems to be in deep trouble as the f-pawn is about to queen. However, Nakamura can save himself. with the move d8=Q. Instead he self destructs.} 45. Qxf8+ $4 (45. d8=Q $1 Rxd8 46. Rxd8+ Qxd8 47. Qxf2 $17 {Black might be better but well within the reaches of a draw.}) 45... Qxf8 {Now White cannot queen as Black would queen as well.} 46. Rd1 Qd8 $6 (46... f1=Q $1 47. Rxf1 Qd6 $19 {was the cleanest way to win.}) 47. Kg2 Kf7 48. Kxf2 Ke6 49. Ke2 h5 50. Rd5 g5 51. Kf3 Qf6+ 52. Ke4 $5 Qd8 53. Re5+ Kd6 54. Rd5+ Kc6 55. Kf5 h4 56. gxh4 gxh4 57. Kg4 a6 58. e4 Kc7 59. Kh3 {With no time on the clock it is not at all easy to win this.} Qxd7+ $2 (59... a5 $1) 60. Rxd7+ Kxd7 61. Kxh4 Ke6 62. Kg3 Ke5 63. Kf3 b5 64. cxb5 axb5 65. Ke3 b4 66. Kd3 Kf4 67. Kd4 {Resourceful or just plain lucky? A little bit of both, you have to agree!} 1-0

Here's another endgame where Nakamura began with a pawn less but ended up winning the game:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "191"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 c5 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. c3 Nc6 6. Nf3 e5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4 Be7 9. a3 Be6 10. Nbd2 Rg8 11. g3 Qc7 12. Rc1 O-O-O 13. Qc2 Kb8 14. Nh4 e4 15. Nb3 Bg4 16. h3 Be6 17. Nd4 Nxd4 18. cxd4 Qxc2 19. Rxc2 Rc8 20. Kd2 a5 21. Rb2 axb4 22. axb4 Ka7 23. Be2 Kb6 24. Bg4 Rc4 25. Rhb1 Ra8 26. Ng2 Bd6 27. Be2 Rcc8 28. h4 Ra3 29. Ne1 Bd7 30. Nc2 Ra4 31. b5 Rca8 32. Bh5 Be6 33. Bd1 Ra2 34. Rxa2 Rxa2 35. Kc3 Bd7 36. Bh5 Be6 37. Be2 h6 38. Bh5 Ra5 39. Be2 Bd7 40. Bh5 Be8 41. Nb4 Bxb4+ 42. Rxb4 f5 43. Rb2 Rxb5 44. Bd1 Rxb2 45. Kxb2 Bb5 46. Bh5 Be8 47. Ka3 Kb5 48. Be2+ Ka5 49. Bd1 b5 50. Bb3 Bc6 51. Ba2 f6 52. Bb3 Bb7 53. Ba2 Bc6 {Diagram [#] There is just no way that Black can lose this. He is a pawn up. And even though it is not so easy to win, he should not lose at any cost. But Hikaru doesn't give up so easily!} 54. Bb3 Bb7 55. Bd1 b4+ 56. Kb2 Kb5 57. Be2+ Ka4 58. Bd1+ Kb5 59. Bh5 Bc6 60. Kb3 Ka5 61. Bf7 Bb7 62. Be6 { Black loses the f5 pawn, but that was sort of inevitable.} Bc6 63. Bxf5 Bb5 64. Kb2 Ka4 65. Be6 Bc4 66. Bd7+ Bb5 67. Be6 Bc4 68. Bg4 b3 $2 {This was not at all a good idea. Because now the b3 pawn is a weakness and Black will be in zugzwang.} 69. Bd7+ Kb4 70. Bc6 $1 {That's the zugzwang we are talking about. The White king will now move to a3.} Ka5 71. Ka3 Kb6 72. Ba4 Ka5 73. Bd7 (73. Bxb3 $1 Bxb3 74. Kxb3 Kb5 75. g4 $18) 73... Kb6 74. Be8 Ka5 75. Bh5 Kb6 76. Bd1 Kb5 77. f3 exf3 78. Bxf3 Kc6 79. Bd1 Kd6 80. Bxb3 Ba6 (80... Bxb3 81. Kxb3 Ke6 82. g4 $18) 81. Kb4 Bb7 82. Kc3 Ba6 83. Kd2 Bc8 84. Bc2 Bg4 85. Bd1 Bf5 86. Ke1 Be4 87. Kf2 Bf5 88. Kf3 Ke6 89. Kf4 Bd3 90. Bg4+ Kd6 91. Bf5 Be2 92. Bb1 Ke6 93. Bc2 Bc4 94. Bh7 Bb3 95. Bg8+ $1 Kd6 96. e4 {Once again a gritty win for Nakamura.} 1-0

Many of the players would have agreed to a draw but Nakamura kept trying

Such endings can only be lost in blitz!

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano showed some excellent chess at the start of the day. However, towards the end he ran out of steam and finished the first day on the last spot with 3.5/9. But just to show what he was capable of, here's his nice win against Hikaru Nakamura:

[Event "Ultimate Blitz Challenge"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C50"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2016.04.28"] [EventType "blitz"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. h3 O-O 9. Re1 Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Qb3 Qd7 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Rxe3 Nh5 14. g3 Kh8 15. Nbd2 Nf6 16. d4 exd4 17. cxd4 d5 18. e5 Ng8 19. Rc1 Nge7 20. Rec3 Rab8 21. Qd1 Nf5 22. Nb3 Qf7 23. Qd2 Rbc8 24. Nc5 Nd8 25. b4 c6 26. h4 Qe8 27. Ng5 Rc7 28. Rf3 Re7 29. Qd3 Qh5 30. Rf4 {Diagram [#] White is better but Black is still in the game.} h6 $2 31. g4 $1 {Caruana is alert.} Qxh4 32. Nf3 $1 Qh3 33. gxf5 g5 34. Nxg5 $1 {A highly pragmatic decision with so little time on the clock.} ( 34. Nh4 $3 {Humans cannot find such moves within a minute!} Qxd3 35. Ng6+ Kh7 ( 35... Kg7 36. f6+ Kxg6 37. fxe7 $18) 36. Nxf8+ $18) 34... Qxd3 35. Nxd3 Rg7 ( 35... hxg5 36. f6 $1 $18 {was the neat point.}) 36. f6 Rxg5+ 37. Kf1 b6 38. a5 $1 {Securing the c5 square for the knight.} bxa5 39. bxa5 Kh7 40. Nc5 Kg6 41. Nxa6 h5 42. Nc5 Rh8 43. a6 Rf5 44. Rxf5 Kxf5 45. a7 Nf7 46. Ra1 {A fine win for Fabiano.} 1-0

One of the reasons why we are able to enjoy this event is thanks to
the excellent commentary by Jennifer Shahade, Yasser Seirawan and...

...and Maurice Ashley

Watch all the action from day one

Day two action begins at 1 p.m. local time in Saint Louis on 29th of April. This would be 7 p.m. CET or 6 p.m. GMT. The games can be watched live on the official website.



The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.