Nakamura finishes off Karjakin in Mexico

12/17/2004 – It was V for victory for Hikaru Nakamura. There would be no GM draw to round out the match. The US champion won again to make the final score 4.5-1.5 over Ukraine's Sergey Karjakin. We talked to the winner after he returned home for the first time since winning the US Championship. Report, games, and photos.

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US Champ wins match 4.5-1.5

"Duelo de los Jovenes Prodigios"
Dec. 9-14 – Cuernavaca, Estado de Morelos, Mexico
Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos

1
2
3
4
5
6
Pts
GM Hikaru Nakamura - 2620 - USA
1
1
0
½
1
1
4.5
GM Sergey Karjakin - 2576 - UKR
0
0
1
½
0
0
1.5
Official website: www.uaem.mxReport 1Report 2
View games onlineDownload games in PGN

The match between Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin in Cuernavaca, Mexico ended in total triumph for the 17-year-old American. The match victory had already been locked up, but Nakamura wasn't through. He won the last game of this challenge match against Sergey Karjakin to win with an overpowering 4.5-1.5 score. It was particularly impressive considering that the match started just three days after Nakamura won the US title in San Diego.

The win will likely push Nakamura into the top 50 players in the world on the next FIDE list. In an interview last year he said he wanted to see if he could make it into the top 100! Now he has set his aim at reaching the 2700 mark in a year's time. His next event is the open in Gibraltar at the start of February. Many are wondering why Nakamura isn't in the Corus Wijk aan Zee B Group, where he would be a natural fit for their youth movement. But that's one we have to leave for the organizers.


Nakamura receives his prize from the University rector.

We spoke to Nakamura when he arrived back home in White Plains, NY (about an hour north of New York City). He was happy to be back home after a long time on the road, except for the weather change. From the famous year-round 70°F of Cuernavaca he landed in New York's coldest day of the winter so far, well below freezing.

Of course Nakamura was happy with the result of the match, calling it incredible considering how he went in without any particular preparation. He agreed with the opinion of GM Marcel Sisniega, who was writing the daily bulletins, that he was coming out worse in the opening in the first half of the match. Nakamura said his goal was to avoid Karjakin's preparation and sharp positions in general when possible. "Karjakin's style is tactical and active, so I thought I'd play more positionally. I like tactics too, but I wanted to get him out of his game."

This worked out overall, and Karjakin admitted that he wasn't prepared for anything they played in the first three games. But Nakamura walked right into Karjakin's preparation in game four and came close to a loss. He said he'd been lucky that he'd played an inferior line because Karjakin had almost certainly looked at the main lines with Ponomariov. Game five he called his best of the match. Game six is also worth a look. Karjakin grabbed a poisoned pawn and soon Nakamura's knights dominated the board, leading to a won endgame.

Nakamura credited the organizers with an excellent job. The accommodations were good, and to his relief the food wasn't too spicy! He said he was hoping to face some 2700 competition in 2005 and said that he wouldn't change his aggressive style. "Maybe I'd try to be a little more solid with black, but what's the point of playing to draw? How does that help you improve?"


Nakamura and his mother Carolyn.

Nakamura said the level of the games was well below his best efforts from the US Championship. Considering Karjakin's devastating form in other events this year, the result, and the spotty quality of the games, is something of a surprise. But there is no doubt that these two will meet many more times in the future and we can only hope the games are so entertaining.


The players with their mothers and all the organizers.

Before the closing ceremony the players agreed to play a casual series of rapid games, which to the surprise of everyone ended up 4-0 in favor of Karjakin. If that weren't enough chess, Karjakin gave a mini-simultaneous exhibition against the organizing committee and a local businessman. Our congratulations and thanks to the organizers for the photographs and bulletins.


An impromptu rapid match. The pressure's off, let's have some fun!


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