Nakamura wins Mexico duel

by ChessBase
12/14/2004 – US champion Hikaru Nakamura's first event as US champion has been a big success. With victory in game five he won his match against Ukraine's Sergey Karjakin with a game to spare. The match has been a slugfest and the only draw was perhaps the most exciting game of the match! Photos and analysis.

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Nakamura top wonder boy

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

GM Hikaru Nakamura - 2620 - USA
GM Sergey Karjakin - 2576 - UKR
Official website: www.uaem.mxReport 1
View games onlineDownload games in PGN

By winning game five, US Champion Hikaru Nakamura won his match against Ukraine's Sergey Karjakin. Game six will be a formality, but from the way things have gone so far it won't be a formality at the board. These Wonder Boys, as the event calls them, have fought hard with every move.

Hikaru Nakamura won the "Duel of he Wonder Boys".

Maybe it's youthful energy, maybe it's teen hormones, or maybe it's the Mexican hot sauce. There's got to be some reason for the tremendous battles between Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin. Or maybe it's just that when there is no agenda other than playing each game to win, nature takes its course.

When he was dropped into Dortmund against Leko and Kramnik this year, his even score with six draws was considered a great achievement for the youngster. Kasparov has bemoaned this sort of thing as bad for the development of such young players, who learn to draw instead of win.

The chess in Cuernavaca has been exciting, if uneven in parts, particularly the see-saw game four in which both players missed likely wins. Of course this is what happens when both players are convinced they can win and play each move with that belief.

Karjakin and his mother in the playing hall.

On stage for game four.

Nakamura wrapped up the match in game five when Karjakin made a poor decision in a rook endgame. He had excellent defensive chances if he had kept the rooks on the board. We don't know if he thought he was lost either way or if he thought the pawn endgame was drawn.

Here Black played 44...Rxe3?? and Fritz is happy to announce mate in 47 after the recapture. After 44...Rb8 it's not clear how White can make progress. The rook stays on the b-file and gives checks as required.

Before that critical moment the game had been another example of Nakamura's penchant for grabbing material and then counterpunching. He doesn't mind being under pressure as long as he has the option of defending or giving material back to break his opponent's initiative. It's also to Karjakin's credit for playing for the initiative with both colors, although it didn't work out for him in this match.

It could have gone better had he converted a sizable advantage in game four. The theoretical sacrifice of a piece for three pawns had worked out well for Karjakin with white.

In time trouble he has just played his rook from f5 to f7. Nakamura found a very nice shot to save the day: 39...Bb5! deflects the bishop and gains a rook vs four pawns after 40.Bxb5 (40.Rxd7!?) 40...Kxf7.

Later it was Nakamura's turn to miss several good winning tries in the endgame, so a draw seemed a just result. In the bulletin GM Sisniega gives 49...Kf8 as a winner for Nakamura. Earlier he recommends 36.Bd5 as better for White.

Karjakin won game three with a powerful Sicilian attack.

Karjakin attended the prize ceremony of the open tournament that ran alongside the Duel. Speaking is the rector of the university hosting the events, Rene Santoveña of the Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos.

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