Hikaru Nakamura declined his invitation to play in the Norway Chess tournament this year. Instead, this week he can be found behind the board in Prague. The U.S. number one is David Navara's opponent in the 2014 edition of the Cez Chess Trophy and this year it's a match played over four classical games. Nakamura started very well: he won the first two games.
The ČEZ Chess Trophy could be described as the annual “David Navara versus a very strong GM” event organized by the Prague Chess Society. The long running sponsor, ČEZ Group (České Energetické Závody in Czech) is a conglomerate of 96 companies (including the parent company ČEZ, a.s.) involved in the electricity generation, trade, distribution and heat, as well as coal mining.
Like last year, when Navara eventually lost to Hou Yifan in the Armageddon game of the playoff, a match of four games is held in the Michna Palace, a baroque palace located in the south part of the Lesser Town of Prague, Czech Republic.
This time Navara's opponent is world #7 Hikaru Nakamura; Navara himself is ranked #26.
Organizer Pavel Matocha showing Nakamura the beatiful old centre of Prague
The event started with a simul by Nakamura held on Friday, June 6th, against 30 opponents. His final score was 28-2 with no losses and four draws, against Libor Kičmer, Jaroslav Sysel, Vojtěch Trochta and Tomáš Habiňák.
Next on the program was the opening ceremony which took place in the EA Hotel Juliš on Prague's Wenceslas's square. The mayor of Prague, Oldřich Lomecký, had prepared a pleasant surprise for GM Vlastimil Hort, whom he awarded for his lifelong contribution to chess. Under the supervision of the Chief Arbiter Pavel Votruba, the colors for the first game were drawn by ombudsman of ČEZ group, Josef Sedlák. Navara would start the match with white pieces.
A giant rook for Vlastimil Hort
On Saturday morning, Mr Hort gave a lecture titled “Famous and strange chess players of Prague's history”, after which there was a launch of a new chess book, Černobílá cesta (Black and white road), which consists of 45 studies of the great chess composer Mario Matous, chess stories written by Pavel Houser and beautifully illustrated pictures by Kristina Perichova.
And then, at 4pm, the match finally started. Nakamura played his beloved King's Indian and Navara countered with the 6.h3 line, in recent years popularized by Michal Krasenkow. The American grandmaster had played the same line against Karjakin in Shamkir and so he was well prepared. With a pawn sacrifice he managed to activate his pieces and Navara failed to deal with the pressure.
The second game, played on Sunday, saw the Semi-Slav variation in which Vishy Anand defeated Levon Aronian brilliantly as Black one and a half years ago in Wijk aan Zee. This time it was Navara who played the first new move, after going for a known pawn sacrifice, but the Czech number one failed to equalize. However, it looks like Nakamura quickly played an inaccurate move and Black won back the pawn.
Then Nakamura won the black a-pawn, but the position was equal anyway as White's weakened kingside prevented him from making progress. At some point there was a repetition, but Navara didn't go for it, allowing White to consolidate and decide the game with his a-pawn.
In Prague the games are commentated by GMs Ján Markoš and Robert Cvek. The last two are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, and in the mornings there will be a lecture by Mr Cvek and a quiz by Mr Hort.
Photos © Anežka Kružíková courtesy of the Prague Chess Society. | Games via TWIC.