27 February 2010

No Preparation Required

A recent article in TechRepublic.com, The role of computers in planning chess strategy by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, received a fair share of attention from the chess blogosphere. That wasn't at all surprising, since it was about top-level tournament preparation.
Electronic assistance isn’t allowed during a conventional match, but that doesn’t mean chess champs can’t use digital devices when assessing the opponents they may encounter in a tournament and when plotting their strategies. Many chess players at the international tournament level now utilize the processing power of today’s powerful -- but much less costly -- computers to help them prepare for matches.

And specifically the preparation practiced by GM Hikaru Nakamura, one of the USA's top players. While informative and accurate overall, the piece contained at least one subtle blunder, shown in the following photo.

The caption says, 'Plenty of behind-the-scenes preparation goes into U.S. Chess Champion Hikaru Nakamura’s winning moves', but the board shows a chess960 position (SP190: NRNKRBBQ). You can bet your last dollar that Nakamura's only preparation was adjusting his pieces before the start of the game.

That game was the first in the Chess960 Rapid World Championship match between Nakamura and GM Levon Aronian (the other player in the photo) at last year's Chess Classic Mainz, a match won decisively by Nakamura. For more about the event, see my previous posts CCM9: Nakamura, Grischuk, and Rybka and More from Mainz 2009. Here is the PGN of the same game, courtesy Chess Tigers.

[Event "CCM9 - Chess960 Rapid WCh"]
[Site "Mainz"]
[Date "2009.07.30"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Variant "chess 960"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "nrnkrbbq/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/NRNKRBBQ w EBeb - 0 1"]

1.f4 f5 2.Bd4 d6 3.Qg1 c5 4.Bc3 Nc7 5.g4 e6 6.d3 Bf7 7.e4 Ne7 8.Ne2 Qg8 9.Nb3 b6 10.O-O-O g6 11.Nd2 O-O-O 12.Bh3 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Ned5 14.Bf6 Rd7 15. c4 Nb4 16.a3 Nc6 17.Bc3 Be7 18.g5 d5 19.Nf6 Bxf6 20.Bxf6 Qf8 21.Nc3 Qd6 22.Qf2 Kb7 23.Kb1 Rf8 24.cxd5 Nxd5 25.Nxd5 Qxd5 26.d4 e5 27.Bxd7 Nxd4 28. Rxd4 cxd4 29.Rxe5 Qa2+ 30.Kc1 Qa1+ 31.Kc2 d3+ 32.Kxd3 Qd1+ 33.Qd2 Bc4+ 34. Ke3 Qg1+ 35.Kf3 h5 36.Re1 Qc5 37.Be7 Bd5+ 38.Kg3 h4+ 39.Kh3 1-0

HT: Comment to The Role of Computers in Planning Chess Strategy (TheChessMind.net).

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