12 February 2011

A Nakamura Sac Attack

In my recent post, I featured a game by GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian from the preliminary event at the 2009 Chess Classic Mainz (CCM9) Chess960 Rapid World Championship.

This wasn't the first game I've posted between these two chess960 superstars. I featured the first three games from their 2009 final match twice each.

Nakamura qualified for CCM9 by winning the 2008 FiNet Open at CCM8. My overview of the first eight CCM events, Chess960 @ Chess Classic Mainz, points to a Chesstigers.de page giving details about that event: Hikaru Nakamura wins FiNet Open.

The American, who won the ICC qualifier for Mainz in June dominated the field from the word go. With only two rounds left he seemed to be cruising to the title, but in the penultimate round German ace Arkadij Naiditsch won the exciting encounter against the fastest player on earth. When Nakamura only scored a draw in his final round against Vladimir Potkin the audience thought that Naiditsch would win the event [...]

All of Nakamura's games are worth a look, but I especially liked his win from the fourth round against GM Rainer Buhmann. The game started with RQBKNBNR (SP694), shown in the first diagram. Five of the eight pieces are on their traditional start squares and the other three -- QN, Q, and K -- have all been rotated one square to the left within the three squares where they normally start.

On the fourth move, White played 4.Bc4, attacking Black's f-Pawn. Instead of defending the Pawn, Nakamura sacrificed it with 4...Nh6 5.Bxh6 Bxh6 6.Bxf7. After 6...Nf6 7.e5 Ne4 8.Nd3 Bg4 9.O-O, he ruined the castled King's Pawn structure with 9...Bxf3 10.gxf3. At this point he could have regained material with 10...Nd2, but played more speculatively with 10...Ng5, and prevailed with a sustained attack against the King. Once again, here is the PGN of the game, courtesy of Chess Tigers.

[Event "CCM8 - 7. FiNet Chess960 Open"]
[Site "Mainz"]
[Date "2008.07.31"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Buhmann, R."]
[Black "Nakamura, H."]
[Result "0-1"]
[Annotator "Chess Tigers"]
[Variant "chess 960"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rqbknbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RQBKNBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

{SP 694} 1.d4 g6 2.Ngf3 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Bc4 Nh6 5.Bxh6 Bxh6 6.Bxf7 Nf6 7. e5 Ne4 8.Nd3 Bg4 9.O-O Bxf3 10.gxf3 Ng5 11.Bd5 c6 12.f4 Nh3+ 13.Kg2 Nxf4+ 14.Nxf4 Bxf4 15.Be6 Kc7 16.c4 Qf8 17.Qe4 dxe5 18.d5 Qf6 19.b4 Rad8 20. Rad1 Rhf8 21.Rd3 h5 22.h3 g5 23.f3 Kb8 24.Rfd1 Rd6 25.c5 Rdd8 26.a4 cxd5 27.Rxd5 Rxd5 28.Qxd5 Qh8 29.Qd7 e4 30.Kh1 Bc7 31.Qxe7 Re8 32.Qf7 Rf8 33. Qe7 exf3 34.b5 Rd8 35.Rxd8+ Bxd8 36.Qd6+ Bc7 0-1

The quote from the Chesstigers.de page above mentions an 'ICC qualifier'. I'll look at that event in my next post.

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