The former U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura is fast. The quicker the pace on the chessboard, the more he seems to enjoy playing. His nimble skills helped him to secure a place for the next traditional Amber tournament, a blindfold and rapid chess extravaganza played every spring on the French Riviera.
Competing at the NH tournament in Amsterdam, Nakamura, 22, led the Rising Stars to a 26-24 victory over the chess veterans, the Experience team, on Sunday. Another member of the winning team, the young Dutch champion Anish Giri, 16, had an identical 6-4 score as Hikaru, but only one could qualify for the Amber tournament. In the blitz playoff, Nakamura defeated Giri 2-0, ensuring a spot among the world's best chess stars next March in Nice. The Israeli grandmaster Boris Gelfand from the Experience team posted the best overall result in Amsterdam with a 7-3 score.
Nakamura played the most bizarre game against Loek Van Wely, who loves sharp variations of the Najdorf Sicilian. As it happened to him in the past, after tilting at windmills, the Dutchman was blown away by the force of the winds. He brought the defeat on himself. Following the game Smith - Laznicka from this year's World Open, Van Wely's hand was faster than his brain and he made a losing blunder. But why did he chose to play this variation at all?
Apparently, Van Wely was commenting on Laznicka's victory for the magazine New In Chess, but his analysis must have been very superficial. He only needed to check my analysis of the game to see that there was something awkward with Black's position even after the best defense.
I am returning to it in my comments, enhanced by Deep Fritz 12.
I am sure, Nakamura was prepared for the alternatives, but after Van Wely's mistake, he won in a mere 17 moves.
Nakamura - Van Wely
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.f4
(The sharpest line. The game Giri-Gelfand, played in the same round in Amsterdam, went: 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Bb3 e6 9.Bxf6 Nxf6 10.f4 e5 11.Ba4+! [After 11...Bd7 12.Bxd7+ Black loses the control of the light squares.] 11...Ke7!? 12.Nde2 exf4 13.Bb3 Be6 14.Nd4 g6 15.Qd2 Bh6 16.0-0-0 Bxb3 17.axb3 Rhc8 18.h4 Rxc3 19.Qxc3 f3+ 20.Kb1 fxg2 and Black had good compenstaion for the exchange a drew in 41 moves.)
7...Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6 Nxf6 11.e5 dxe5!?
(Laznicka's new try. I analyzed his game against Smith in the Huffington Post chess column already on July 6. The verdict was not very good for Black and one can only wonder why would Van Wely repeat the line.)
(A losing blunder. Laznicka played the only move 12...Ng4!? but after 13.Nd5 Qc5! [Not 13...Qxa2 14.Nc7+ Kd7 15.Nde6+ Kc6 16.Qc3+ Qc4 17.Qxc4+ Kd7 18.Rd1# Benyovszki-Jalyl,IECC email 2000.] 14.Nb3 Qc6 Nakamura didn't have to play Smith's 15.Na5, but he could have checked my analysis, this time enhanced by Deep Fritz 12:
15.Qa5!? b6 [After 15...f5 16.Nd4 Qh6 17.Nc7+ Kf7 18.Bc4+ Kg6 19.Qb6+ e6 20.Ndxe6 wins.] and here White has two possibilities to get an advantage:
a) The fancy 16.Bb5!?
16...axb5 (16...Qxb5 17.Nc7+ Kd7 18.Qxb5+ axb5 19.Nxa8) 17.Qxa8 Qxa8 18.Nc7+ Kd7 19.Nxa8
a1) 19...Bb7 20.Rd1+ Kc6 21.Nd4+ Kc5 22.Nc7 and White has a clear advantage, for example 22...Ne3 23.Rd3 Nxg2+ 24.Kf2 Nf4 25.Nb3+ wins; or 22...Nxe5 23.0-0 g6 24.Nce6+ wins.
a2) 19...e6 20.Nxb6+ Kc7 21.Nxc8+-;
a3) 19...Kc6 20.Nd4+ Kb7 21.Nxb6 Kxb6 22.Rxb5+ Kc7 [22...Ka6 23.Ke2 Nxe5 24.Rhb1+- wins.] 23.0-0 Bd7 24.Rc5+ Kb6 25.e6 fxe6 26.Rc3 and black gets mated.)
b)16.Nd4!? bxa5 17.Nxc6 e6 18.Nc7+ Kd7 19.Nxa8 Kxc6 20.Rb6+ and I am pretty sure that Nakamura had a look at this position. White is better. )
13.Nd5 Qc5 14.Nb3 Qc6 15.Na5 Qc5 16.Nxb7 Qc6?
(Loses beautifully, but black was in dire straits anyway: 16...Bxb7 17.Rxb7 Rc8 [After 17...Qc6 18.Nc7+ Kd8 19.Nxa8 Qxb7 20.Qa5+ White wins.] 18.Bxa6 e6 19.Bb5 or 19.Nf6+ Nxf6 20.Bb5+ Qxb5 21.Rxb5 Nd5 22.0-0, winning.)
17.Rb6!! (An amazing punch, deflecting the black knight. White wins the queen since after 17...Nxb6 18.Nf6+! exf6 19.Qd8 White mates.) Black resigned.
Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.
Image by NH Chess