Hikaru yes Chess!

Jan 28, 2011, 12:14 PM |

That is a play on the extremely popular Japanese 'Hikaru no Go' series for children about a coming of age and the game of Go.

Hikaru Nakamura was my pick to win the Tata Steel tournament (I picked Luke McShane to win the 'B' section, and Mark Bluvshtein to win the 'C' section), as he is in every tournament in which he participates. It's not just because he plays openings like the Najdorf, which I played in my prime, and the Leningrad Dutch, my favorite opening with Black, but stems from his play at the 32nd Continental Open in Sturbridge, Mass, in 2002. I recall the tournament vividly because it was where I 'collapsed' with paramedics being called. I had been in time pressure for some time, needing desperately to make a trip to the men's room. Upon making my final move before time control, I got up to do just that, and the next thing I recall was coming to on the floor. The tournament took place after the US Open, where all the games had been played at night. The first two games of the Continental were also played at night. This game, the third, was played in the morning, and it appears I had become dehydrated by drinking only coffee during the game. It had a deleterious affect upon me when I stood up, obviously. Having won my first two games, I was still in contention after losing this one, but Brenda Goichberg convinced me to withdraw from the tournament, which I did. I therefore got to spectate and what I saw was empty top boards, as the top GM's, for the most part, decided to draw with each other and go next door and drink copious amounts of beer and eat seafood, while holding court with the younger players. But there was one top player who refused to 'join the club'. Hikaru Nakamura was there to WIN, not just to play. He was there to beat every GM placed in his path, no matter how much higher rated than he at the time, or which color he had, so I could not help but think of Bobby Fischer. I have followed Hikaru's career ever since, thinking of Bobby; thinking that the search was over, it was just that no one realized it yet. I bet they will now.
I met Hikaru and his father, Sunil, on a visit to the 2009 US Open in Indianapolis, and it was the highlight of the trip! He was there to play a simul. I was just there...
I found chess rather late, playing in my first tournament as a 20 year old adult. I never knew the wonder and excitemant I've seen in my very young students, but right now I'm as excited as a child! I simply cannot wait for the last two rounds of this tournament! David Spinks, the caretaker of the House of Pain in Atlanta once asked me who I was "pulling for." When I replied that I was just watching the game for the enjoyment of watching, he exclaimed, "YOU GOTTA PULL FOR SOMEBODY, MAN!"
You simply cannot believe how much I'm pulling for Hikaru, man!