Unstoppable in Prague

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/12/2014 – The number one American and the newly minted number five in the World according to the live rating lists was able to finish strong in his four game match against Navara. Without a shadow of a doubt Nakamura was better the entire game in the last round and in what could only be suffering for the Czech player the game took a full 78 moves before finally Black was checkmated.

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The classic Prague Chess Match is currently underway. The Čez Chess Trophy 2014 is a 4-game duel between World number three Hikaru Nakamura and the Czech Republic's number one player, David Navara. The games will take place at the Michna Palace and as usual it includes a series of side events.

Final Round

Nakamura had already won the match before this game started, but that did not mean that he was happy with wrapping things up with a draw. And why would he? He was able to put pressure on his opponent from the get go:

[Event "Cez Trophy 2014"] [Site "Prague CZE"] [Date "2014.06.10"] [Round "4"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Navara, David"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2724"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "155"] [EventDate "2014.06.07"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5 10. Rd1 Qe7 11. dxc5 Bxc5 12. a3 {A symmetrical position sometimes happens when playing the Semi-Slav. White retains some pressure as his pieces are actively placed, but if Black is able to diffuse this temporary advantage than the game will simply be equal.} a6 13. b4 Ba7 14. Be2 {White preempts the advance b5.} b5 15. a4 bxa4 16. Qxa4 Bb7 17. Ba3 Rfc8 18. Rac1 Nb6 19. Qb3 Qe8 20. Ne5 Nbd5 $6 (20... Nfd7 $1 {Was a better way of trying to trade pieces. White's advantage here is minimal.}) 21. Na4 {Suddenly White has real possibilities as a knight on c5 would be a big burden for Black.} Bb8 22. Nc4 Bc7 23. Na5 Rcb8 $6 (23... Bxa5 24. bxa5 {is far from equal. The weakness on a6 and the pair of bishops guarantee White's advantage, however this was the best way for Black to proceed.} Bc6 $1 $14) 24. Qc2 h6 25. Nxb7 Rxb7 26. Nc5 Rb6 $6 27. e4 Nxb4 $1 {A good practical decision. Black is on the verge of losing and this gives him chances to hang on.} (27... Nf4 28. Bf1 Ng6 29. g3 $18 {leaves Black with basically no useful moves.}) 28. Bxb4 Rxb4 29. Nxa6 Rxa6 30. Bxa6 {Black is down the exchange, but with all the pawns on the same side it is not so easy to break through.} Bb6 31. Qe2 Nxe4 $5 32. Rc8 Qxc8 33. Bxc8 Nxf2 34. Rf1 Nh3+ 35. Kh1 Nf2+ 36. Rxf2 Bxf2 {A very unusual endgame. White's material advantage is not so simple to convert for two reasons. The first is obviously that material is very reduced, making the defensive task much easier. Second, and also important, is that the bishops are of opposite color, which means that it is not a realistic possibility to force the trade of them off the board.} 37. Qc2 Bd4 38. g3 g6 39. Qc7 (39. Bxe6 fxe6 40. Qxg6+ Bg7 41. Qxe6+ {should be ok for Black.}) 39... e5 40. h4 h5 41. Bb7 Rb2 42. Bd5 Rf2 43. Bg2 Kg7 44. Qe7 Re2 45. Kh2 Rf2 46. Kh3 Rf6 47. Be4 Re6 48. Qb7 Rb6 49. Qd7 Rf6 50. Bd5 Rf5 51. Qb7 Rf2 52. Bf3 Rb2 53. Qe7 Rb6 54. Qd8 Rb3 55. Qa8 Rb2 56. Qe4 Rb6 {White has made no progress with his queen and bishop alone, so he tries to break some space for his king.} 57. g4 hxg4+ 58. Qxg4 Be3 59. h5 Bf4 60. Qg1 Rb2 $5 {A good nuance. White's king is suddenly in some danger!} 61. hxg6 f5 62. Qa7+ $1 Kxg6 63. Be2 $1 Rb3+ 64. Kg2 Rg3+ 65. Kf1 Be3 66. Qa6+ Kg5 67. Bb5 {White is no longer under mating threats, but with all his pawns vanished it seems unlikely that Nakamura could pull off a win.} Bd4 68. Be8 Rf3+ $2 (68... Kf4 $1 {is more resilient.}) 69. Ke2 Rh3 70. Qg6+ Kf4 71. Bd7 {Now it is impossible to defend f5. The king will be flushed out of his current position and Black cannot hold on to his light squares.} Rh2+ 72. Kd1 Rh1+ 73. Kc2 Rh2+ 74. Kb3 Rb2+ 75. Kc4 Rc2+ $2 {Speeding up defeat.} (75... Rf2 76. Qxf5+ Ke3 { still makes White work for it.}) 76. Kd3 Rc3+ 77. Kd2 Rg3 78. Qxf5# {A good display of technique near the end by Nakamura.} 1-0

GM Robert Cvek doesn't miss a beat during commentary

Navara was simply no match for Nakamura this time around

Many grandmasters attended the final game and were later invited to a closing dinner. But first, some blitz and some analysis, of course. Sitting with the white pieces in the above pictures is GM Ronen Har-Zvi and with black is GM Viktor Laznicka, how many more grandmasters can you spot?

Nakamura with the Cez Trophy, and well deserved.
He climbs to #5 in the World in the live ratings.

WGM Katerina Nemcova and her trainer GM Ronen Har-Zvi. Both live in Brownsville, Texas.

Also attending the festivities were WGM Julie Kocetkova and GM Sergei Movsesian

An excellently organized event and a brilliant triumph for the American. Navara takes away many important lessons while Nakamura will enjoy his rating points.

Players Rtng
David Navara 2724
Hikaru Nakamura 2775

Photos from the official website by Agnes Kruzikova


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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