Zurich 02: Nakamura with the leaders

by Alejandro Ramirez
1/31/2014 – With a draw in the game between Carlsen and Aronian, Nakamura saw an opportunity to catch the leaders. He played enterprising and interesting chess against Anand, first sacrificing a piece for practical compensation and then playing accurate and precise moves taking advantage of every one of the Indian's mistakes. Analysis of the round and report of a special friendly match.

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The «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will be the first encounter between the newly crowned World Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, and the former title holder, India’s Viswanathan Anand after their recent match in Chennai. From Wednesday, 29 January to Tuesday, 4 February 2014, they will compete in the 3rd Zurich Chess Challenge along with four other great chess stars: Levon Aronian (Armenia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (Italy) and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

Friendly Match Skvortsov - Hou Yifan

As part of the pleasantries in Zurich the reigning World Women's Champion played a friendly game against the sponsor of the event, Oleg Skvortsov.

Oleg Skvortsov received a traditional gift from China

Yifan in turn received her own gift...

A beautiful Hermes scarf she could hardly let go of. In the middle is Natalia Skvortsova,
the driving force between Zurich 2014!

The game was very sharp and Oleg could have gained a nice initiative sacrificing the queen... He lost but the World Champion said she was not sure about her position after the possible sacrifice.

Round Two

Round 2 – January 31, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Absolutely the most anticipated match of the tournament proved to be very interesting

Carlsen was unable to really pressure Aronian

Daniel King shows the game Carlsen - Aronian and Anand - Nakamura

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge"] [Site "Zürich"] [Date "2014.01.31"] [Round "2"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "2872"] [BlackElo "2812"] [Annotator "Chirila Cristian"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2014.01.30"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {The most anticipated game of the round, it is always a pleasure to see the two top guns shooting at each other novelties and middlegame incredible ideas, let's see what they had in store for us this time!} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 {The English four knights system, a very explored opening with many interesting ideas still to be discovered.} 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. d3 Re8 (9... Be6 {Is the most played move in the position but due to the flexible character of the opening many set-ups are possible} 10. b4 a5 11. b5 Nd4 12. Nd2 c6 13. bxc6 Nxc6 14. Rb1 $13) 10. b4 Bf8 11. Rb1 (11. Bb2 a5 12. b5 Nd4 13. Nd2 c6 14. bxc6 Nxc6 15. Rb1 $13) 11... a5 12. b5 Nd4 13. e3 {This move has been played only once before, again Carlsen shows that he is not afraid to get his opponents out of theory and try to outplay them no matter what the assesment of the position is} (13. Nd2 a4 14. Bb2 Ra7 $1 {this move is very important, activating the c8 bishop is more important than the curent passivity of the a7 rook} 15. e3 Nb3 $36) 13... Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 a4 15. Qe2 Ra7 16. Bb2 Be6 17. Rfc1 Qd7 (17... f5 $5 {Restricting white's pieces, especially his c3 knight} 18. Bg2 Qd6 19. Nd1 Ba2 20. Ra1 Bb3 $13 {I like black's position, it seems to me that only white will play for equality here}) 18. Ne4 Ba2 19. Ra1 Bd5 20. Bg4 Qd8 21. Bc3 (21. Nc5 Ra5 22. d4 e4 23. Bc3 Ra8 24. Bb4 $11 {the position remains balanced}) 21... Nd7 22. Bf3 b6 23. Bb4 Bxb4 24. axb4 Qe7 (24... a3 $5 25. Rc3 (25. Nc3 Bxf3 26. Qxf3 Nf6 27. Qd1 Qd6 $15) 25... a2 26. Rcc1 Qa8 27. Bg4 Rd8 28. Nc3 Nf6 29. Nxd5 Qxd5 30. Bf3 Qb3 {With accurate play white can save himself but I this pawn push would have probably been Aronian's best practical chance}) 25. Nc3 Bxf3 26. Qxf3 Nf6 27. Rxa4 Rxa4 28. Nxa4 Qxb4 29. Nc3 Qb2 30. Qd1 Rd8 31. Kg2 h6 32. h3 {The position favors black due to his more active pieces, but the advantage is minimal and Aronian decides to enter a tactical line that simplifies the position, a gentleman's draw offer.} Rxd3 (32... Rd7 33. Rc2 Qb3 34. Rc1 Qb4 35. Qc2 $11) 33. Qxd3 Qxc1 34. Qd8+ Kh7 35. Qxc7 Ne4 36. Qxe5 Nxc3 37. Qf5+ Kg8 38. Qc8+ Kh7 39. Qf5+ Kh8 40. Qc8+ Kh7 {An easy draw for Aronian, none of the combatants were willing to take any additional risks and therefore the game did not involve any fireworks. A strong start for Aronian who shows that he is capable of keeping the pace with the World Champion!} 1/2-1/2

Nakamura wasted no time in putting pressure on Anand. He allowed his queenside to be weakened but he counterattacked swiftly on the kingside. Anand didn't respond in an accurate way and the American stormed his position:

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge 2014"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2014.01.31"] [Round "2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2773"] [BlackElo "2789"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "SUI"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {The Berlin, but Anand is in no mood for an endgame right away.} 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 {This idea of trading on c6 is common when Black's knight has alreayd committed to f6. This is not the best spot for it as he cannot play the move f6, reinforcing the central pawn on e5.} dxc6 6. h3 (6. Nxe5 $2 Qd4 {is not particularly good for White.}) 6... Be6 7. Nc3 Qd6 8. O-O O-O-O {Despite the oppositre colored castling positions usually these games still retain a strong positional feel. However that was not what happened in this game.} 9. a3 Nh5 10. Na4 Bb6 11. Nxb6+ axb6 {Black's structure on the queenside is not bad perse. It does control a lot of squares, the only downside is that pushing the a-pawn will open files for the White rook.} 12. a4 $1 f6 13. Be3 Nf4 {Black has so far ignored White's threats and tries to create his own, but it's unclear if this was such a good idea.} 14. a5 $1 b5 15. d4 $6 {This move is too superficial.} (15. a6 b6 16. Bxf4 $1 (16. d4 Nxh3+ 17. gxh3 Bxh3 18. Re1 Bg4 19. Ra3 (19. c3 f5 {is still unclear.}) 19... exd4 20. Bc1 c5 21. Qd3 $1) 16... exf4 17. Re1 {followed by e5 and White's advantage cannot be questioned.}) 15... Nxh3+ $1 {Nakamura sees an opportunity and complicates the matter before his position becomes bad. The sacrifice is unpleasant to face in a real game and Black has true chances.} 16. gxh3 Bxh3 17. dxe5 (17. Re1 Bg4 18. Ra3 (18. c3 f5 {and White's position is not pleasant. }) 18... exd4 19. Bc1 c5 20. Qd2 b4 {Black's position looks superior, for sure. }) 17... Qe6 18. Nd2 Bxf1 19. Qxf1 Qxe5 {Black has two pawns and a rook for the two pieces, normally chances would be about even, but with White's slightly awkward knight, his exposed king and his weak pawns I would prefer Black, despite what the engines say.} 20. c3 Kb8 21. a6 b6 22. Qg2 Rd6 23. Nf1 $6 {This move looks safer, but actually it just makes the knight passive.} (23. Qxg7 Rdd8 {is not a human decision to make, even though White might hold and the pawn will come in handy.}) (23. Nb3 $1 {Was the best with the idea of activating pieces. Despite the fact that the e-pawn drops it is ok because White's pieces can control the queenside structure.} Re8 24. Nd4 Qxe4 25. Qxe4 Rxe4 26. Kg2 {and Black has a hard timemaking progress.}) 23... f5 $1 { Nakamura correctly opens up the position, straining the knights capacity to play on both flanks.} 24. exf5 Qxf5 25. Ng3 Qd7 (25... Qc2 {was quite interesting. Can White really punish the pawn grab?}) 26. Qe4 Ka7 27. Kg2 h5 { Natural - after the push h4 White's knight is kicked from g3 and his king is left vulnerable.} 28. Qf5 (28. Rh1 {seemed more natural to me, but Black must be better anyways} Qf7 $5 $17) 28... Qe8 {Only in Anand's wildest dreams would Nakamura allow a queen trade when his opponent's king is as exposed as the one on g2.} 29. Qe4 Qf7 {Now Black's initiative is hard to stop. White has no useful moves.} 30. Kh1 h4 31. Ne2 $2 {Too passive and the final mistake.} (31. Nf5 Re6 $8 32. Qd3 {and sure, White is still worse, but there is no immediate winning coup de grace.}) 31... Re8 32. Qg4 Rg6 {White cannot defend the diagonal and his king dies quickly.} 33. Qh3 Qd5+ 34. Kh2 Rxe3 35. fxe3 Qd2 { Black has two extra pawns and the safer king. All White can do is resign.} 36. Qf1 Rf6 0-1

With this result Nakamura catches both Aronian and Carlsen at the top with 1.5/2.0 while Anand has not scored a half point yet. Remember that this actually means that Aronian, Carlsen and Nakamura are at 3.0/4 since the rapid games count for "half" on the total standings.

Someone was spotted practicing her photography skills

The post-mortem is lively and interesting and the players have not been
shy to point out what they have missed during the game. Here Pelletier interviewing Aronian

Oleg Skvortsov discussing the games with GMs Ljubomir Ljubojević and Genna Sosonko in the press room

Carlsen is still in the lead, but tomorrow he will play his first Black game, will this make a difference?

Caruana and Gelfand had an interesting game. Unusual to his style, Caruana chose a Dutch defense which is a little more aggressive than what he usually practices with the Black side. It seems as if he managed to comfortably go into an endgame that was equal and then to a rook and knight endgame where only Black could be better thanks to his piece activity; Caruana even declined a draw at some point.

However his transition to a knight endgame was awful and he was in serious problems at some point. He found a nice resource with 46...h4! and he managed to hold on to his half point.

Being a celebrity is tough

Replay round two games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Cristian Chirila - Guest Commentator

Former World u-16 Champion and currently a grandmaster finishing his studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, Cristian is an ambitious chess player. Find out more about Cristian, including his chess lesson services, biography and games here.

Maria Emelianova - Photographer

Maria Emelianova is 26 years old, born in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Women FIDE Master, with a 2113 Elo rating. After finishing school Maria moved to Moscow to study at the university, so chess was forgotten for some time. She worked for about a year with Alexander Roshal in the chess magazine "64". Her carrier as a chess photographer started at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. "It was just a hobby, but somehow became an interesting job," says Maria, who works with a Canon 1DX. "Now I am finishing my studies at two universities in Moscow, and am looking forward to a future in the big world of chess."

Schedule and Pairings

The event is a six player round robin, with a rate of play of 40 moves in 120 minutes, then 20 moves in 60 minutes and the rest of game in 15 minutes, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. Special rule: in case of a draw before move 40, an additional rapid game will be played (which does not count for the overall result).

Wed. January 29: 19:00  Opening Ceremony & Blitz
Thu. January 30: 15:00  Round 1
Fri. January 31: 15:00  Round 2
Sat. February 01: 15:00  Round 3
Sun. February 02: 15:00  Round 4
Mon. February 03: 15:00  Round 5
Tue. February 04: 13:00  Rapid Tournament 19:00  Closing Ceremony
  • The blitz will be used to determine the colors
  • The classical time control gives two points to wins, one for draws and none for losses
  • The rapid time control gives one point to wins, half to draws and none for losses

The winner will be the one who scores the most points between the classical tournament and the rapid.

Schedule of Commentary

Date   English German
30.01.2014 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
31.01.2014 Round 2 Daniel King Oliver Reeh
01.02.2014 Round 3 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff
02.02.2014 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
03.02.2014 Round 5 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff

Schedule and results

Round 1 – January 30, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Aronian, Levon 2812
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Round 2 – January 31, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 3 – February 01, 15:00h
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Round 4 – February 02, 15:00h
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Anand, Vishy 2773
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Aronian, Levon 2812
Round 5 – February 03, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Anand, Vishy 2773
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Aronian, Levon 2812
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Gelfand, Boris 2777

Rapid Schedule

Round 1
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Anand, Vishy 2773   Aronian, Levon 2812
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 2
Aronian, Levon 2812   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789   Anand, Vishy 2773
Round 3
Anand, Vishy 2773   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Aronian, Levon 2812
Carlsen, Magnus 2872   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 4
Anand, Vishy 2773   Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 5
Anand, Vishy 2773   Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Aronian, Levon 2812   Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777   Nakamura, Hikaru 2789


The games will be 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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