Nakamura Pushes, Draws, Still Leads in St. Louis
GM Hikaru Nakamura's prospects at the Sinquefield Cup remain bright, and he felt like wearing shades. Although he was unable to press enough to take out GM Magnus Carlsen for the first time, the bespectacled tournament leader got the better end of a drawn game to lead with 2.5/3.
Carlsen remains in second place with 2/3, though the drumbeat of one of his rivals got a little bit louder. Nakamura was the aggressor as Black and was on the verge of finding a winning plan; even so, he moved up to world number four on the live ratings list.
Nakamura, looking at home at the poker table
Nakamura got a big time advantage, and spent much of it on 18...Ne4. He decided upon the tactical complications of the discovered attack after 17 minutes of thought. Other options included the equally-pressing 18...e5 or the more staid 18...Re8.
"There were so many possibilities, I couldn't calculate them all," Carlsen said about his opponent's 18th move. "I'm never really surprised when he plays aggressively."
"Hikaru's played a very bold game today," commentator GM Yasser Seirawan said.
"There was some line that I saw that I could take on a4 with both rooks, though White plays g4 and I'm not sure if I can break through," Nakamura said of an alternate winning attempt. He said even if he could have won the a-pawn and sacrificed the exchange for the c-pawn, it still might not be enough. "The other question is if I can win the four against three," he said of that rook endgame.
Carlsen, looking uncomfortable for the first time in St. Louis
In the final position, the only idea left is for Black to block the long diagonal by getting both ...e5 and ...e4 in play. Carlsen was not prepared to let this happen. "If he tries to go ...e5, I go e4 myself. He's risking as much as I am. Nakamura concurred, explaining that after the bishop transfers to the h3-c8 diagonal, he could even be worse.
On the choice of sunglasses, Nakamura said he remembered Pal Benko wearing the against Mikhail Tal in 1959. He said that he had extra motivation to win today, since it is both the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York, his childhood city, and it is also his stepfather's birthday.
For his part, Carlsen did not take exception to the attire.
Commentators WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Yasser Seirawan got in on the act
As did commentator GM Maurice Ashley, who may be channeling former student Will Smith in "Men in Black"
In the other game, GM Gata Kamsky changed his tune completely, playing more unambitiously and splitting the point with GM Levon Aronian. Kamsky got on the scoreboard for the first time (0.5/3) while Aronian (1/3) drew for the second game in a row, but this time without as much suffering.
"I was playing the opening just to make a draw, but I screwed up and Black was even better," Kamsky said. "The last two games I realized I'm not really in good form. I needed to save my energy for after the rest day."
"I didn't really play well in the starting phase but I had a really nice position at move number 15," Aronian said.
As White, placid opening moves for like 3. c3 don't get played by Kamsky often. "The first two games I took risks and I lost," Kamsky said. "I decided no more active chess. Draw, and go home."
"I tried to make him play for a win!" Aronian said, explaining that he suspected his struggling opponent might not go for much. "I'm [also] trying to recover from a pretty lousy start."
Like his friend Carlsen, Aronian did not make much of Nakamura's sunglasses. "He played in a cap before, so I don't know what comes next," Aronian said.
The four players have a rest day tomorrow; they will resume the event Friday at 1:00 p.m. Central, 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Chess.com/tv will cover this round live (free for all members), as well as rounds five and six over the weekend.
Looking ahead, the two tournament leaders meet again, with colors reversed, Saturday. "The game with Hikaru in the 5th round will be a big one," Carlsen said.
1. GM Hikaru Nakamura (2774) - 2.5/3
2. GM Magnus Carlsen (2862) - 2.0/3
3. GM Levon Aronian (2802) - 1/3
4. GM Gata Kamsky (2773) - 0.5/3