Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura

Dec 13, 2009, 6:40 AM |

Hikaru Nakamura, (中村光 Nakamura Hikaru, born December 9, 1987) is an American chess Grandmaster (GM) and the current United States Chess Champion.

Nakamura was born in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, to a Japanese father and an American mother. At the age of two, he moved with his parents to the United States. He began playing chess prior to the age of five and was coached by his Sri Lankan stepfather, FIDE Master and chess author Sunil Weeramantry.

At age 10 years and 79 days, Nakamura achieved the title of chess master from the United States Chess Federation (USCF), becoming the youngest American ever to earn the title and breaking the record previously set by Vinay Bhat. In 2003, at age 15 years and 79 days, Nakamura solidified his reputation as a chess prodigy, becoming the youngest American to earn the grandmaster title, breaking by three months the record of Bobby Fischer.

Nakamura is generally regarded as an aggressive player who is reluctant to draw games early, having once said in an interview that "there is no point of taking draws". He prefers instead to exploit all prospective winning chances, giving him a style of play described by the U.S. Chess Federation as marked by "astonishing creativity...relentless determination...[the making] of unexpected moves and a will to win".

Formerly a resident of White Plains, New York, Nakamura often played in the weekly New York Masters chess tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, which he won several times.

Nakamura won the 2005 U. S. Chess Championship (held in November and December 2004), scoring seven points over nine rounds. Nakamura became the youngest national champion since Fischer. Nakamura finished the tournament without a loss and, in the seventh round, defeated grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov, then the nation's top-ranked player.

Following that victory, Nakamura played a challenge match dubbed the "Duelo de Jóvenes Prodigios" in Mexico against Ukrainian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin and defeated his fellow prodigy, 4.5-1.5.

In 2006 Nakamura helped the US team win the bronze medal in the International Chess Olympiad at Turin, playing third board behind Gata Gamsky and 2006 US Champion Alexander Onischuk.

In January 2007 Nakamura shared second place in the GibTelecom Masters in Gibraltar. He placed joint first in the tournament the following year, finishing with five straight wins to tie with Chinese GM Bu, whom he then proceeded to beat in the rapidplay play off.

 In October 2007 Nakamura won the Magistral D'Escacs in Barcelona and the Corsican circuit rapid chess tournament.

Nakamura won the 2008 Finet Chess960 Open (Mainz). In November 2008, he won the Cap d'Agde Rapid Tournament, defeating Anatoly Karpov in the semi-finals and Vassily Ivanchuk in the finals. In February 2009 he came joint third at the 7th GibTelecom Masters in Gibraltar, again finishing strongly with 4½/5 to end the event on 7½/10.

Nakamura won the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship (St Louis, MO, May 2009), scoring 7/9.

In July 2009, Nakamura beat Ruslan Ponomariov in a blitz playoff to win the Donostia-San Sebastian Chess Festival. In August 2009, Nakamura became the 960 World Chess Champion, beating GM Levon Aronian 3.5-0.5 in Mainz, Germany.

Nakamura is very skilled at blitz chess, and has been called "easily the best blitz player in America" and "one of the best blitz players in the world."

Nakamura is well known in the chess community for playing on the Internet regularly. He plays primarily on two chess sites: Internet Chess Club ('Smallville') and Playchess ('Star Wars'). He is the strongest bullet, blitz and standard player on the server and he has set many rating records under different categories.