Kavalek in Huffington: US Chess Champ Hikaru Nakamura (Part 2)

5/25/2012 – Two best U.S. grandmasters, the defending champion Gata Kamsky and the top-rated American Hikaru Nakamura, went neck-to-neck in the 11-round robin, leaving others far behind them. Hikaru was a half point behind Kamsky with two rounds to go. They met in the penultimate round and Nakamura scored the most needed victory – with black. GM Lubomir Kavalek annotates the key games.

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U.S. Chess Champ Hikaru Nakamura (Part 2)

By GM Lubomir Kavalek


Read part one here

"A knowledge of tactics is the foundation of positional play," claimed Richard Reti, a chess philosopher and one of the leading players of the 1920s. And tactics can crack strong positional walls and take them down. Tactics would fail Seirawan time to time in his successful career.

Seirawan has reached a point in his career when he plays with"ambition without ammunition, " to use Boris Spassky's favorite expression. Yasser suffers in the openings, being out-prepared and out-analyzed by the younger players. But give him an equal position without queens on the board and he will shine.

Kamsky's style has evolved from being a staunch defender to a freelance attacker, capable of creating brilliant tactical gems. He didn't have to think too much against Seirawan. Everything was served up on a platter for him and he just picked the best moves prepared three years ago against Veselin Topalov. The victory briefly catapulted Kamsky into first place.

[Event "ch-USA 2012"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2012.05.17"] [Round "9"] [White "Kamsky, Gata"] [Black "Seirawan, Yasser"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2741"] [BlackElo "2643"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2012.05.08"] [SourceDate "2012.01.12"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 Nf6 15. Qd3 O-O 16. Kb1 c5 17. g4 $5 {White is going for a "blitzkrieg," storming the black king with bold sacrifices.} Nxg4 18. Qe2 $1 {Killing two birds with one stone: the queen protects the pawn on f2 and at the same time prevents black from playing f7-f5. One can also play more daringly.} Kh8 {A new move. The king goes out of the line of fire: the g-file. But other moves were played here with success:} 19. Rhg1 Nf6 20. dxc5 Qc7 21. Ne5 Bxc5 $2 { Diagram [#]} ({Seirawan overlooks a pretty combination. Tactics was always his weaker side.} 21... Rad8 {was the proper answer.}) 22. Bxh6 $1 gxh6 23. Rd7 $3 {The point of the sacrifices. White deflects the knight from the defense of the black king. Kamsky admitted he had prepared all this for his World Chess Challenge match against Veselin Topalov in 2009 in Sofia.} Qxd7 (23... Nxd7 24. Qd2 Kh7 25. Ng4 {and black can't defend the pawn on h6 and gets mated.}) (23... Qb8 24. Rxf7) 24. Nxd7 Nxd7 (24... Rg8 25. Rxg8+ Rxg8 26. b4 $18) 25. Qd2 {The game is basically over and Kamsky plays the rest well.} Kh7 26. b4 (26. Qxd7 Bxf2 27. Qd3+ Kh8 28. Qc3+ e5 29. Rf1 $18) 26... Rad8 27. bxc5 Nf6 (27... Nxc5 28. Qf4 Rd5 29. Qf6 $18) 28. Qf4 Ne8 29. Qe4+ Kh8 30. Qxb7 Ng7 31. Qxa7 Rc8 32. Rd1 Nf5 33. Rd7 Kg7 34. a4 Kf6 35. a5 1-0

Nakamura began the most important game of the tournament with a half-point handicap. But he equalized rather quickly with the black pieces in the Sicilian Najdorf and had Kamsky under pressure throughout the game. Hikaru had a slim but important lead going into the last round.

[Event "ch-USA 2012"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2012.05.18"] [Round "10"] [White "Kamsky, Gata"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2741"] [BlackElo "2775"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2012.05.08"] [SourceDate "2012.01.12"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. a4 e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bc4 O-O 9. O-O Be6 10. Bb3 Nc6 11. Bg5 Na5 $5 {Nakamura begins the battle for the square c4. The knight move made Kamsky unhappy and he took almost a half-hour before he played his next move.} 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Bd5 {Landing both the bishop and the knight on the outpost d5 at the same time would have been ideal for white. It would free the queenside pawns and they could step into action. But chess does not work this way. Black is able to create a typical Sicilian counterplay along the c-file, but the chances are roughly equal.} (13. Nd5 Nxb3 14. cxb3 Rc8 15. Nxf6+ gxf6 $11) (13. Ba2 Rc8 14. Nd5 Nc4 $11) 13... Rc8 14. Nd2 {Kamsky covers everything he can, but not for long.} Qc7 15. Re1 Bg5 $1 16. Nf1 Qb6 $1 {It is interesting how quickly white's game detoriates. Kamsky played rather passively and it is not easy for him to find a good play. Nakamura, on the other hand, has a green light on the queenside.} 17. Rb1 Nc4 18. Qe2 Bh6 (18... g6) 19. h4 Qb4 20. g3 Rc7 (20... Nxb2 21. Nd1) 21. Kg2 Nb6 { Nakamura outplayed his opponent and is ready to cash in. After 21 moves only, Kamsky is in trouble with the white pieces and has to give up a pawn.} 22. Bb3 Bxb3 23. cxb3 Qxb3 24. a5 Na4 25. Nh2 (25. Nd5 Rc2) 25... g6 ({Nakamura decides to escape with his bishop and who could blame him. After} 25... Nxc3 26. bxc3 Qxc3 27. Ng4 Qxa5 28. Nxh6+ gxh6 29. Qg4+ Kh8 30. Qf5 Qa2 31. Red1 { white is three pawns down, but his rooks are very active.}) 26. Ng4 Bg7 27. Nd5 (27. Ne3 f5 28. exf5 gxf5 29. Qd1 Qxd1 30. Rexd1 Nxc3 31. bxc3 {white has a good play for a pawn.}) 27... Rc2 28. Qe3 Nc5 (28... Qxe3 29. Ngxe3 Rxb2 30. Rxb2 Nxb2 31. Rb1 Na4 32. Rxb7 {the chances swung in white's favor. Black has two weak pawns: a6 and d6, and white's knights dominate.}) 29. h5 ({ Threatening to win with 30.h6, but black can defend it easily. Kamsky could have tried} 29. Ngf6+ $1 Kh8 30. Nd7 $1 Rd8 31. Nxc5 Qxe3 32. Rxe3 Rxc5 33. b4 $11 {and the strong knight on d5 fully compensates the small material deficiency.}) 29... Qxe3 30. Ngxe3 Rd2 31. Nc4 Rd4 32. Nxd6 Rd8 33. b4 Nd3 34. Nxb7 Nxe1+ 35. Rxe1 Ra8 36. f3 ({White misses his chance to make it more difficult for black. After} 36. hxg6 hxg6 37. Ne7+ Kf8 38. Nd5 {it is not easy for black to improve his position, for example} Ra7 39. Nc5 Kg8 40. Ra1 Bf8 41. Nxa6 $3 Rxa6 42. b5 {and white is a rook down, but his extra passed pawns should not be underestimated.}) 36... Bf8 37. Rc1 (37. Nc5 gxh5) 37... Bxb4 38. Rc7 (38. h6 Bf8 39. Rc7 Bxh6 40. Nd6 Bg7) 38... gxh5 39. Kh3 Kg7 40. Kh4 $2 ({ With the last move before the time control Kamsky allows an unpleasant pin.} 40. Nxb4 Rxb4 41. Nd6 {was better.}) 40... Ra7 41. Kxh5 Rxd5 $1 {Simplifying into a winning position with unstoppable a-pawn.} 42. exd5 Bxa5 43. Re7 Bb6 ( 43... Kf8 44. d6 Bb4 45. Rd7 Bxd6 46. Rxd6 Rxb7 47. Rxa6 Rb3 48. Kg4 h5+ 49. Kxh5 Rxf3 {is not that clear.}) 44. d6 a5 45. Kg5 ({Now the a-pawn is free to run. The only chance was a knight maneuver:} 45. Nd8 a4 46. Ne6+ Kf6 47. Nc7 Bxc7 48. dxc7 Ra8 49. Rd7 Rc8 50. Rd6+ Ke7 51. Ra6 Rxc7 52. Rxa4 $17) 45... a4 46. Kf5 a3 47. Nd8 a2 48. Ne6+ Kh6 49. Ng5 a1=Q 50. Nxf7+ Kg7 0-1

Nakamura's victory in the last round was the title clincher. He surprised Seirawan already with his second move and continued to gain advantage with unorthodox play. Yasser fell again under heavy tactical blows.

[Event "ch-USA 2012"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2012.05.19"] [Round "11"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Seirawan, Yasser"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2643"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2012.05.08"] [SourceDate "2012.01.12"] 1. e4 e6 2. f4 {A shocker for Seirawan. He faced this uncommon move for the first time.} d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. c3 Nge7 6. Na3 Nf5 7. Nc2 h5 ({When he faced Stripunsky with the black pieces two years ago, Nakamura played:} 7... d4 8. Bd3 Qb6 9. Qe2 Nfe7 10. Be4 Nd5 11. g3 Bd7 12. c4 Ndb4 13. d3 Nxc2+ 14. Qxc2 f5 15. exf6 gxf6 16. Nh4 f5 17. Bg2 O-O-O 18. Nf3 Bd6 19. Bd2 Rdg8 20. O-O-O h6 21. Rde1 Kb8 22. Re2 Rg6 23. Rhe1 Rc8 24. Kb1 a5 25. Ka1 Kc7 26. Nh4 Rf6 27. Bxc6 Qxc6 28. Bxa5+ b6 29. Bd2 Qa8 30. Rf2 Bc6 31. Qd1 b5 32. b3 bxc4 33. bxc4 Rb8 34. Bc1 Ba4 35. Qd2 Kc8 36. Ree2 Bc7 37. Qe1 Ba5 38. Bd2 Bc2 39. Bxa5 Qxa5 40. Rf1 Rb1+ 41. Qxb1 Bxb1 42. Rxb1 Qc3+ 43. Reb2 Rf7 44. Nf3 Rb7 45. Ne5 h5 { 0-1 Stripunsky,A (2570)-Nakamura,H (2733)/Saint Louis 2010}) 8. Bd3 {Blocking the d-pawn may look strange, but Nakamura is only delaying the central pawn play.} g6 9. O-O Be7 10. Bxf5 gxf5 {Capturing towards the center is usually a good idea, but here it isolates the h-pawn.} 11. d4 h4 (11... b6 12. Qe2 a5 13. Qf2 Ba6 14. Rd1 h4) 12. dxc5 Bxc5+ 13. Be3 Be7 {Exchanging the dark bishops would leave black with a bad bishop.} 14. h3 b6 15. Qe2 Nb8 {Seirawan is anxious to occupy the diagonal a6-f1 and is willing to retreat with his pieces. But he also has in mind to re-route his knight to g6. All this costs time.} ({ After} 15... a5 {comes} 16. b4 $5) ({Unfortunately, the idea of} 15... Bb7 { ,to open up the long diagonal with d5-d4, runs into problems after} 16. Rfd1) 16. Rfd1 Ba6 17. Qe1 Nd7 18. b4 Nf8 19. a4 Bc4 20. Ncd4 Qd7 21. b5 {Creating a nice outpost for the knight.} Ng6 22. Nc6 Kf8 {Trying to finish an artificial castling by placing the king on g7. How could Seirawan have known that he is walking into an ambush?} ({Sacrificing an exchange for the pesky knight} 22... Rc8 23. Nd2 Rxc6 24. bxc6 Qxc6 {was an option.}) 23. Nd2 Bd3 24. c4 $1 {An excellent way to open up the position, using a pin along the d-file.} Kg7 25. cxd5 exd5 ({After} 25... Qxd5 26. Nxe7 Nxe7 27. Nf3 Rad8 28. Ra3 Qe4 29. Ng5 Qc4 30. Rc3 Qb4 31. Rc7 {wins.}) 26. Nb1 Bc4 ({After} 26... Bxb1 27. Raxb1 Rhc8 28. Qc3 Qe6 29. Qb3 {white wins the d-pawn.}) 27. Qc3 $1 {Threatening 28.e6+.} Qe6 {the queen is a poor blocker, but white was also threatening 28.Qxc4.} 28. Nd2 ({A clever move. After the immediate} 28. Nd4 {comes} Qc8) 28... Rhc8 $2 { The rook takes the last escape square for the queen, allowing a brutal finish.} ({But after} 28... Kh7 29. Nxc4 dxc4 30. Rac1 {white should win anyway.}) 29. Nd4 Qd7 30. e6 $1 {(The diagonal a1-h8 opens up for the final blow: 31.Nd4xf5+ double-check.} 1-0

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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