The Nakamura Trap

The Nakamura Trap

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The name is my own invention and it refers to the “trap” that arises after the following moves: 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 g6 3.Bb2 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.d4, with alternative move-orders being possible, for example 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Bb2:

This system against the King’s Indian has been used frequently by Nakamura in online chess, hence my name for the trap.

What I noticed is that a big number of very strong players feel the urge to play the move 5...c5? here, and fall into the “Nakamura Trap.” The point of the trap is that after 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.c3 Qxc5 8.Ba3 White wins a pawn as the pawn on e7 is undefended.

Starting with Carlsen (!) the names of the players who have fallen for this are impressive: Giri, So, Grischuk, Andreikin, Svidler, Jones, Fedoseev, Cheparinov, Alekseenko...

To make it worse, people keep falling into this trap. Nakamura’s latest victim is from a game played in February 2024.

Another shocking statistic is that Nakamura has 19 (!) games in his trap.

The thing I don’t understand is the following. There is a lot of talk in modern chess of one-game preparation or surprises because thanks to databases and engines everybody knows about it immediately and the effect wears off, thus making the preparation suitable only for one game. So in this case, let's assume that in online games players play fast and the move 5...c5 is such a natural one so they tend to play it routinely. But then I don't understand how players who have undoubtedly seen Nakamura's games (and you can be certain that top players follow each other’s games religiously) still keep falling for the trap, especially when playing against him!

While I cannot know the complete truth, I can only assume. Therefore my assumption is that nobody really cares! It's online, the responsibility for each move and game is low, people forget what they've prepared and there are perhaps other factors as well.

In spite of all this, I would still feel very embarassed to fall for this after having seen it so many times. I am sure somebody like Svidler certainly was feeling very embarassed.

If you decide to take up this idea against the KID, I am pretty sure you will have your own list of victims, and not only in online chess!

To complement that last sentence, you can take a look at this old video of mine, where I show how to prepare against the KID in 10 minutes. It also includes the Nakamura trap. Apologies for the poor video and sound quality, at least the moves are good! While there, feel free to browse my other and newer videos and consider subscribing!