Teen GMs battle in Mexico

12/11/2004 – When Hikaru Nakamura won the US Championship this week he didn't go to Disneyworld. Instead he went to Mexico to play a match against Ukrainian star Sergey Karjakin. Nakamura just turned 17 and Karjakin is a month shy of 15. The six-game match started with two wins by the US champ. Report and photos.

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America vs Ukraine in Mexico

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

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Pts
GM Hikaru Nakamura - 2620 - USA
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1
2.0
GM Sergey Karjakin - 2576 - UKR
0
0
0.0
Official website: www.uaem.mx
View games onlineDownload games in PGN

The beautiful city of Cuernavaca, Morelos is the site of a very intriguing match-up between two of the world's top young stars. Mexico's "city of eternal spring" seems a fitting showcase for youth in bloom. The event is titled "Duel of the Wonder Boys".

The Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos has brought together GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin for a six-game match of classical chess. It runs without rest days from December 9-14. If the match is tied 3-3 there will be 15-minute tiebreak games. The organizers include Mexican chess legend GM Marcel Sisniega, who is also providing live commentary during the games.


Sergey Karjakin and Hikaru Nakamura at the opening ceremony.

Two years after shattering the record for youngest Grandmaster ever, Ukrainian 14-year-old Sergey Karjakin (left) is moving steadily toward the elite. He was devastating during the recent Calvia Olympiad, racking up a 6.5/7 score reminiscent of a young Kramnik's astounding Olympiad debut in 1992.

His opponent is Hikaru Nakamura, who turned 17 just yesterday. The Japanese-born, American-bred GM just ratified his status as the greatest US talent in a generation by winning the US championship in San Diego. He scored an undefeated +5 before beating Alex Stripunsky in a rapid playoff to become the youngest American champion since Bobby Fischer (who won three titles before turning 17).

Both players have been impressive this year in other events. Karjakin drew four games with Kramnik and Leko in Dortmund and even beat Kramnik in one of the blitz playoff games.

Both players were in the FIDE KO world championship in Libya this year. Karjakin was knocked out in the first round, but Nakamura (right) made an international statement by reaching the fourth round. He entered each match as an underdog but eliminated experienced internationals Volkov, Aleksandrov, and Lastin before losing to Adams.

After two days in Mexico, Nakamura has done twice what Kramnik and Leko could not do: beat Karjakin. The American champion won the first two games of the match to take a commanding lead. Both games were impressively conducted by Nakamura. He gained the advantage in complications and then showed his technical skills in grinding out superior endgames.

The second game was a good illustration of what could be Nakamura's trademarks: self-confidence and greed! Just as he did in several games in the US Championship, Nakamura boldly grabbed and held on to material, only giving it up when he could transform it into another advantage. (Comparisons to Fischer, a famously materialistic player, are not limited to age and achievement.)

After Karjakin's 27.c5 it looks like White is gaining a decisive attack, but Black coolly gave up his f7 and e6 pawns for development and counterattack with 27...Qxc5! 28.Qxf7 Ne7!? 29.Qxe6+ Kb8.

Black's king was safe and he gained a decisive advantage with some nice knight acrobatics (also in game 1). 30.a4 Nd5 31.Rb5 Nc7! 32.Qf7 Rhf8! White's attack is over, the queens come off, and Black had the better endgame chances.

Two games down, Karjakin's back is up against the wall. We'll expect to see much more fighting chess from these two Wonder Boys. Below is a photo gallery from the first days of the match. Our thanks to the organizers.


Bringing world-class chess to Morelos. Organizers Alberto Campos, Javier Lavin, Rector Rene Santoveña, GM Marcel Sisniega, and Gustavo Martinez


Attention class! GM Marcel Sisniega in the commentary room during game 1.


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