Nakamura Beats Adams, Moves To 3rd Place In London

Nakamura Beats Adams, Moves To 3rd Place In London

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura climbed two places in the leaderboard thanks to a win against English number one GM Michael Adams in the penultimate round of the London Chess Classic.

The games Anand-Giri and Kramnik-Caruana ended in draws. Like round four, the final round on Sunday will be played at 2 p.m. GMT, in which leaders Giri and Kramnik will meet at the board.

Photo © John Saunders.

The old quip “I have never beaten a healthy opponent” has been attributed to several old masters (Edward Winter makes a strong case for either Bird or Burn), but whoever said it first — it still rings true, doesn't it? Every time you beat someone, they have a reason for it, and it's never... that you might actually be a better player!

At the same time, top GMs rarely complain about health issues. They consider it part of the game, part of life, and you have to deal with it.

Round four of the London Chess Classic has just started. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

During his round three press conference, Mickey Adams spoke with a very different voice, and during round four he grabbed a handkerchief out of his pocket several times. The English GM is suffering from an annoying cold, and that can't be good for his chess.

Hikaru Nakamura, however, makes an excellent impression. He feels at home in London and is playing entertaining chess.

“It's important that the game is enjoyable,” he paraphrased one of Nigel Short's recent tweets, while sitting next to the English GM at the press conference.

On Saturday the American number one played an excellent game and gave his sniffling opponent not much of a chance. Toying with the move order in a Queen's Gambit, he provoked Adams to go for a dubious pawn push in the center, and ended up with an extra pawn. The rook ending seemed drawish, but is in fact quite hard to defend for Black. 

Here's the game, with instructive annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov:

Nakamura wins an excellent game. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Kramnik and Caruana played a Grünfeld and quickly reached a typical Grünfeld ending — although with three minor pieces and two rooks each, that should probably be considered a queenless middlegame.

During the game Kramnik thought he was better, but he couldn't find a good way to prove it: “I thought I should be better because I have stabilized, but it's not easy.”

Caruana found the important maneuver Bf5-e4-d5, and all the tactics that involved sacrificing the a2 pawn were in Black's favor, so Kramnik went for a forcing line that led to a position with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. Having arrived there, he noticed that only Black could be better and so he decided to trade the rooks as well, and shake hands.

1.d4, Kramnik's choice against Caruana. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Anand and Giri also drew their game, a Queen's Gambit Accepted according to the Chessbase program, but perhaps this line is more like a Vienna? In any case, the position after the opening seemed promising for White.

“We liked your play — up till a certain point!” said Nigel Short to Anand at the press conference.

"Me too!" said the five-time world champion.

Anand had to make an important choice on move 21, and based on a miscalculation, he chose the wrong plan. After that he was the one who had to equalize, which he did with accurate play.

Anand and Giri, about to start their game. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

2014 London Chess Classic | Round 4 Standings

# Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 Score Perf
1 Kramnik, Vladimir 2769 phpfCo1l0.png 3 1 1 1 6 2874
2 Giri, Anish 2768 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 3 1 6 2874
3 Nakamura, Hikaru 2775 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3 5 2769
4 Anand, Viswanathan 2793 1 1 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 4 2786
5 Adams, Michael 2745 1 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png 3 4 2697
6 Caruana, Fabiano 2829 1 1 1 0 phpfCo1l0.png 3 2681

With one round to go, the London Chess Classic has a remarkable situation in the leaderboard where five of the six participants can still finish (shared) first. The pairings for the last round are Giri-Kramnik, Caruana-Nakamura and Adams-Anand.

It's easy to see that Giri and Kramnik can win outright, but if their game ends in a draw there are several possible scenarios: If Nakamura beats Adams he wins the tournament outright. If he doesn't, both Anand and Adams can still join the leaders, if anyone wins their mutual game!

Obviously the key game will be Giri-Kramnik.

The Russian GM said: “Tomorrow is the decisive game. I guess my opponent will try to win and maybe he will give me some chances. It will be a very interesting game. (...)

“We cannot allot making a draw because if [Nakamura] wins, he wins the tournament. So I guess [Giri] will be playing aggressively and I'm happy about it because I want to try my chances. Of course with Black you simply might not get any winning chances but maybe he will give me. At least I'm ready for a serious battle.” 

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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