American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is on a perfect score after two rounds at the Sinquefield Chess Cup. Here is the annotation by Grandmaster Ben Finegold (official website) of the game Nakmura – Kamsky which White won. You can read a report on the Round at Chess Blog.


Nakamura, Hikaru – Kamsky, Gata

Result: 1-0
Site: Saint Louis Chess Club
Date: 2013.09.10
[…] 1.e4 Hikaru once again plays 1.e4 as he did yesterday against Levon. 1…c5 Gata must have been in a fighting mood today after losing in round 1. Gata also often plays 1…e5, with the Ruy Lopez in mind. 2.♘f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 a6 Gata likes the Kan variation. 5.♘c3 White can also play 5.Bd3. This makes it more difficult for black to play b5, since then after a later a4 by white, black does not have the tempo gaining attacking the Nc3 (Since there is no knight on c3!). Another added benefit of 5.Bd3 is that white may decide to play c4 later and get a bind. 5…b5 6.♗d3 ♗b7 7.O-O ♘c6 8.♘xc6 ♗xc6 9.♖e1 ♕b8 Black normally plays 9…Bc5 instead. The only top ten player to previously play 9…Qb8 was…. Hikaru! 10.a4 Gashimov tried 10.Qe2 against Hikaru in 2012. That game was quickly drawn. 10.a4 is more testing. 10…b4 11.♘d5 Now we see one of the main points of 9.Re1! It’s too dangerous to take the knight, so white does not need to retreat. 11…♗d6 12.♕h5 ♘e7 A new move, likely prepared by Gata before the game, but this, and moves played previously all seem to be bad for black. Perhaps black needs to improve earlier (personally, I am suspicious of the whole 9…Qb8 line). 13.♘xe7 ♗xe7 14.b3 a5 This is quite slow. Black should likely castle and pray! Now white is just clearly better. 15.♗b2 ♗f6 16.♗xf6 gxf6 17.e5 Hikaru has played excellently so far, and has a clear advantage! 17…♖g8 18.g3 ♖g5 19.♕h6 Much stronger than 19.Qxh7 Rxe5 and black’s king is likely safe at e7. 19…♖xe5 20.♕xf6 ♖h5 21.♗e4 A tough decision that GM Ian Rogers and I did not like during the game. Houdini thinks many moves maintain a clear advantage, and this is fine. Hikaru, since move 15 had been taking a lot of time on his moves, and Gata, despite having a worse position, was playing quite quickly. 21.h4 and 21.Rad1 were good alternatives.
Hikaru said he thought so long on 21. Be4 because he was looking at the variation 21.♗e2 ♖f5 22.♕h8+ ♔e7 23.♕xh7 But then he realized black is just better after 21….Qe5!
21…♕d8 22.♕f3 ♖c5 23.♕e3 (23.♗xc6 ♖xc6 24.♖e4 with the idea of 25.Rg4 was the best way to play. ) 23…♕e7
Hikaru does not agree with the computer suggestion of… 23…♖e5 24.♕d4 ♖xe4 25.♖xe4 ♗xe4 26.♕xe4 And Houdini thinks it is equal, and Hikaru thinks white is doing great.
24.♗xh7 f5 25.♗g6+ ♔d8 26.♖ac1
Hikaru said 26.Rac1 was based on a miscalculation… and thinks black is fine now. He thinks he should have tried….. 26.♖ad1 ♗e4 27.♕d4 ♔c7 Houdini says 27…Kc7 is bad, and black is fine after 27…e5 28.♖xe4 fxe4 29.♗xe4
26…♔c7 27.♗h5
Hikaru was planning on playing…. 27.c4 bxc3 28.♖xc3 ♖xc3 29.♕xc3 ♕g5 30.♗f7 ♕g4 And he thought black was doing really well here, so he abandoned this line (the reason he played 26.Rac1)… but Houdini thinks the game is equal after… 31.♖c1 ♔b7 32.♕d3
27…e5 Hikaru (and Ian Rogers and me) were shocked by this move. 28.f4
In time trouble, Hikaru was afraid to play the crazy lines after 28.c3 f4 29.gxf4
28…♕d6 Instantly played by Gata, and best, but overlooked by Hikaru! Now the game is dynamically equal. 29.♖f1
Also playable is the computeresque 29.♖cd1 exf4 30.♕f2 fxg3 31.hxg3 ♖d5
At first Hikaru thought.. 31…♕h6 32.♕xc5 ♕xh5 but then realized…. 33.♖xd7+ ♔xd7 34.♖e7+ ♔d8 35.♕d6+ ♔c8 36.♕c7#
32.♗f3
29…exf4 30.♕xf4 ♗e4 31.♕f2 The endgame should be a draw after 31.Qxd6+, but Hikaru thought he was a bit worse there, and that 31.Qf2 had to be played, despite his shortness of time. 31…♖c3 32.♗e2 ♔b7
Hikaru was more worried about (and correctly so!) 32…♗b7 33.♕f4 ♕xf4 34.♖xf4 ♗e4 And it should be a draw.
32…♕h6 was one of the Houdini suggestions that impressed Hikaru..it’s still equal, but with the clock ticking, anything could happen.
32…♖g8 is also possible, but again white is equal if he plays 33.♗d3
33.♖cd1 ♕e6 (33…♕c7 34.♗d3) 34.♗c4 d5 35.♕c5 Hikaru plays amazingly well with less than 2 minutes (sometimes less than 1) on his clock. 35…♖d8 Gata did not play the last few moves well. Black should have been fine, and too many errors occurred and now Hikaru is simply winning.
Best was 35…♕c6 36.♕xd5
Hikaru planned 36.♖xd5 but black equalizes with 36…♖xc2
36…♖xc2 37.♖f2
(35…dxc4 36.♖d6) 36.♕xa5 ♖xc2
36…♕b6+ 37.♕xb6+ ♔xb6 38.♗d3 And white has excellent winning chances, but this is much better than what black got in the game.
37.♖f2 ♖xf2 38.♕xd8 ♖g2+ 39.♔f1 ♖b2 40.♗xd5+ ♗xd5 41.♕xd5+ ♕xd5 42.♖xd5 Hikaru played amazingly well in time trouble. Now that both sides have time, and with time for sober reflection, Gata realizes the ending is hopeless and resigns. A great game, and a great start for Hikaru, who leads with 2-0.