NH Chess - Nakamura takes it in dramatic last round

by ChessBase
8/23/2010 – The ticket to next year's Amber seemed almost a formality, as Anish Giri needed only a draw against Danish GM Nielsen, but a slip in the final liquidation forced him into a blitz tiebreak against renowned speed specialist, Hikaru Nakamura. The top American GM lived up to his reputation, as he took both games, snatching the ticket at the last minute. Report for rounds 9 and 10 with new pictures.

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The tournament is a double round-robin Schveningen type match in which the players of each team plays each and every player of the other team twice for a total of ten rounds.

1. Rate of play: At least 40 moves in two hours, followed by 30 minutes for the remaining moves.
In this second period 30 seconds are added on the clock per move.

2. Prize-fund: each player of the winning team receives € 2000, the players of the losing team receive € 1000 each. In case of a 25 – 25 tie, each player receives € 1500.
In addition each player receives € 500 for each point he scores.

3. Special prizes for the ‘Rising Stars’ team: the player with the highest score will be invited to the 2011 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice, provided he or she scores over 50% in the NH Chess Tournament in Amsterdam. In case his or her score is 50% or less, he (she) and a partner of his choice will be invited to attend the 2011 Amber tournament as a guest. In case two players reach the same (best) score, a blitz tiebreaker will decide who will be invited to the 2011 Amber tournament as a player or a guest.
The runner-up of the ‘Rising Stars’ team will be invited to attend the 2011 Amber tournament with a partner of his choice during the final week of the event.
The number 3 ‘Rising Star’ will receive a Sony Vaio Notebook

Round nine

Round nine – Saturday Aug. 21
Nakamura –Svidler
Caruana –Gelfand
So –Ljubojevic
Giri –van Wely
Howell –Nielsen

The ninth round of the NH Chess Tournament the Rising Stars maintained their four-point lead over the Experience team as the match ended in a 2.5 - 2.5 tie.

Anish Giri tested the knowledge of Loek van Wely in the Botvinnik Variation of the Slav, an opening in which the ‘older’ Dutchman is a specialist. At first he confirmed this expertise by reaching a satisfactory position, but after a mistake, he soon found himself in trouble. Giri then built a winning position but botched it after a few calculation errors, and walked away with only a draw.

Wesley So seemed determined to go for the win against Ljubomir Ljubojevic, and by move 10 he had sacrificed a pawn for which he obtained sufficient compensation. His desire to win affected his judgment though, and eventually, it was the Serb who actually had the better chances. Ljubo then showed the same desire to win, and the same errorneous need to rush things, after which the game ended in a fair draw.

Top American GM Hikaru Nakamura (2729)

Hikaru Nakamura tried a relatively new set-up against the Zaitsev Variation of the Ruy Lopez in his game against Peter Svidler, one that has already been essayed by Grischuk and Morozevich. A dynamic game ensued, but one that never really swung too far one ay or the other, and a draw was agreed after 49 moves.

Fabiano Caruana against Boris Gelfand

Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand played the longest game of the day, lasting almost six hours and 86 moves. in which Gelfand came up with an important novelty, 13…a5, in a Catalan Opening. The new move somewhat unsettled Caruana, who offered a draw on move 16. However, Gelfand already felt he was better and on top of that he had ‘a very easy game’. After the time-control he liquidated to a knight endgame with an extra pawn, and subsequently converted his advantage.

Caruana,F (2697) - Gelfand,B (2739) [E01]
5th NH Chess Tournament Amsterdam NED (9), 21.08.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Nd2 0-0 6.Ngf3 dxc4 7.0-0 b5 8.a4 c6 9.b3 c3 10.Nb1 Bb7 11.Qc2 bxa4 12.Rxa4 c5 13.Nxc3

13...a5!N In Dresden, 2008, Gelfand had played Bc6 against Kveinys, which drew after a very crazy game. This is a significant improvement, after which "Black has an easy game" as put by Gelfand. 14.Na2 Be4 15.Qd1 Nbd7 16.Nxb4 cxb4 17.Bb2 Nb6 18.Ra1 Qd5 19.Ne1 Bxg2 20.Nxg2 Qb5 21.Nf4 a4 22.bxa4 Nxa4 23.Qb3 Nd5 24.Nd3 Nac3 25.Rfe1 Rxa1 26.Bxa1 Rc8 27.Bxc3 Rxc3 28.Rc1 h6 29.Rxc3 Nxc3 30.Nc1 Qg5 31.e3 Qb5 32.Kg2 Qc6+ 33.Kg1 Ne4 34.Nd3 Nd2 35.Qb2 Nf3+ 36.Kf1 Qb5 37.Ke2 Ng1+ 38.Kd2 Nf3+ 39.Ke2 b3 40.Qc3 Qh5 41.Nf4 Nxd4+ 42.Kd2 Nf3+ 43.Kc1 Qxh2 44.Nd3 Qh1+ 45.Kb2 Qd1 46.Qxb3 Qxb3+ 47.Kxb3 Kh7 48.Kc2 Kg6 49.Kd1 Kf5 50.Ke2 Kg4 51.Nc5 h5 52.Nd7 f6 53.Nf8 Ng5 54.Ng6 e5 55.Kf1 Kh3 56.Nh4 Ne4 57.Ng6 Kh2 58.Nh4 g5 59.Nf5 Kh3 60.Ng7 h4 61.gxh4 gxh4 62.f3 Ng5 63.Kf2 e4 64.fxe4 Kg4 65.Ne8 Nxe4+ 66.Kg2 f5 67.Kh2 h3 68.Ng7 Nd2 69.Kg1 Nc4 70.Ne8 Nxe3 71.Nf6+ Kg3 72.Nh5+ Kh4 73.Nf4 Kg3 74.Nh5+ Kg4 75.Ng7 f4 76.Ne8 f3 77.Nf6+ Kf5 78.Nh5 Ng4 79.Ng3+ Kf4 80.Nf1 Ke4 81.Ng3+ Ke3 82.Nf1+ Kf4 83.Kh1 f2 84.Nd2 Ne3 85.Nf1 Kf3 86.Ng3 f1Q+ 0-1 [Click to Replay]

The game between David Howell and Peter Heine Nielsen was a Ruy Lopez Exchange in which the Danish grandmaster erred first and then fatally so. Nielsen had planned to resign one move before he actually did, but played the extra move due to the utterly singular final position it resulted in.

Nielsen and Howell played one for the history books.

Howell,D (2616) - Nielsen,PH (2700) [C69]
5th NH Chess Tournament Amsterdam NED (9), 21.08.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Ne7 6.Nxe5 Qd4 7.Qh5 g6 8.Qg5 Bg7 9.Nd3 f5 10.e5 c5 11.b3 b6 12.Bb2 Qg4 13.Qe3 Nd5 14.Qe1 f4 15.f3 Qg5 16.c4 Bf5 17.Nxc5 bxc5 18.cxd5 Bd3 19.Nc3 0-0 20.Ne4 Qf5 21.Nxc5 Bxf1 22.Kxf1 Rad8 23.Qe4 Rfe8 24.d4 Qxe4! The Danish grandmaster deserves an exclamation point for being a good sport. He could already have resigned, but played this last move, having seen the singular position that resulted. 25.fxe4

An astonishing final position that will certainly enter the compilations of chess oddities. 1-0 [Click to Replay]

Round ten

Round ten – Saturday Aug. 20
Gelfand – Nakamura
Ljubojevic – Caruana
van Wely – So
Nielsen – Giri
Svidler – Howell

In the tenth and last round of the NH Chess Tournament the Experience team defeated the Rising Stars 3.5-1.5, but couldn’t prevent the youngsters’ overall win of 26-24.

The last round contained quite a bit of unexpected drama, though not universally so. The games between van Wely and So, as well as between Ljubojevic and Caruana, were uneventful draws, and though Svidler almost squandered a winning position against Howell, little by little he rebuilt his edge and won in a marathon 107 moves.

When Nakamura was unable to achieve an edge against Gelfand, it became more of
an exercise in perpetual motion while he waited to see how Anish Giri did.

Boris Gelfand and Hikaru Nakamura embarked on a game that most experts believed Black had to win to keep his chances in the race for the Amber ticket, as the American grandmaster was trailing Giri by half a point. A heavy manoeuvring game followed in which both sides were mainly jockeying for position behind the lines, while all eyes were focused on Giri's game against Nielsen.

Anish Giri showed some nerves against Nielsen.

Peter Heine Nielsen and Anish Giri repeated the opening the young Dutch grandmaster had had against Gelfand in Round two. Nielsen improved on this game but Giri managed to equalize nevertheless, and the desired draw seemed within reach. Just as he entered the final drawing liquidation, he tragically mixed up the move-order. After his error Black was essentially lost and slowly but surely Nielsen converted his advantage.

Nielsen,PH (2700) - Giri,A (2672) [E06]
5th NH Chess Tournament Amsterdam NED (10), 22.08.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nc3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 c6 14.Qb3 Ra7 15.Ne4 Bxd4 16.Rfd1 Qb6 17.Qd3 c5 18.e3 Be5 19.Rac1 Nc6 20.Nxc5 Rd8 21.Nd7 Qxb2 22.Qc4

22...b5? This tragic blunder essentially leads to a lost endgame. Giri had the right idea, but mixed up the move order which ends up changing everything. Anish had meant to play 22...Rxd7! 23.Rxd7 b5! 24.Qxc6 Rxd7 which should draw with little discussion. Nielsen even commented that after this expected line, a swift handshake was the likely result. 23.axb5 axb5 24.Qxc6 Raxd7 25.Qxd7! Rxd7 26.Rc8+ Kh7 27.Rxd7 Thought the material is equal, the endgame is dead lost for Black. The presence of opposite-colored bishops actually favors White in this case, as explained by Nielsen. 27...Kg6 28.h4 Qa3 29.Kg2 Kf6 30.Rb7 Qd6 31.Ra8 b4 32.Raa7 Qf8 33.h5 Bd6 34.Rd7 Be5 35.Rab7 Qe8 36.Bd1 Bc3 37.Bb3 Bd2 38.Kf1 Bc3 39.Ke2 Qg8 40.Bc2 Qe8 41.f4 g5 42.hxg6 fxg6 43.e4 g5 44.e5+ Bxe5 45.Rf7+ Qxf7 46.fxe5+ Kg7 47.Rxf7+ Kxf7 48.g4 Kg7 49.Kf3 Kf7 50.Bb3 Ke7 51.Ke4 Kf7 52.Bd1 Kg7 53.Kd4 Kg6 54.Kc4 h5 55.gxh5+ Kf5 56.h6 Kg6 57.Bg4 1-0 [Click to Replay]

In all the pics available of the blitz tiebreak against Giri, Nakamura's hands were a blur.

With the win by Nielsen clear, Nakamura ceased his efforts against Gelfand, with whom he drew, to begin preparing himself for the blitz tiebreak to decide the ticket for next year's edition of the Amber tournament. Nakamura entered this as a favorite, due to his deserved fame as a blitz and bullet specialist. The time control was a very fast three-minute game with a two-second increment, where two games were to be played, with a potential Armageddon decider, but the young American confirmed his reputation as he won both games, and a spot in the 20th edition of the Amber tournament.

The beautiful location of the closing ceremony and dinner.

Traditional group picture of the participants with their prizes (left to right): Boris Gelfand,
Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Peter Svidler, Peter Heine Nielsen, Loek van Wely, Fabiano
Caruana, Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, David Howell, and organizer.

Final standings
Experience individual scores
Gelfand    7.0
Svidler 5.5
Nielsen 4.0
van Wely 4.0
Ljubojevic 3.5
  Rising Stars individual scores
Giri       6.0
Nakamura 6.0 Caruana 5.0
Howell 4.5
So 4.5

Total: 24


Total: 26

Final crosstable

Photos by John Nunn and NH Chess.


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