Nakamura beats Karpov & Ivanchuk to win Cap d'Agde

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0 | Chess Event Coverage
Nakakura wins Cap d'Agde 2008OK, American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is a strong blitz player, we knew that. But what about rapid chess? And what about opponents like Karpov and Ivanchuk? Well, he just beat them both, the former world champion in the semi-final and the Ukrainian in the final, and so Nakamura became the convincing winner of the 2008 Troph?ɬ©e CCAS in Cap d'Agde!

From 25 October to 1 November, 16 GM's were participating in the 8th Troph?ɬ©e CCAS rapid event in Cap d'Agde. It's the seaside resort of the town of Agde, France on the Mediterranean sea. The event was a closed tournament first divided into two groups, then 1/4 finals, 1/2 finals and the final.

In our previous report we saw that from the A group Caruana, Ivanchuk, Vachier-Lagrave and Bu Xiangzi had qualified for the quarter finals, and from the B group the names were Carlsen, Nakamura, Karpov and Radjabov. Karpov defeated Caruana, Ivanchuk beat Radjabov, Carlsen was too strong for Bu Xiangzhi and Nakamura knocked out the French hope Vachier-Lagrave. OK, all that is old news - how did the tournament continue?

Well, on Friday the semi-finals were played and the French chess fans were treated with two delightful chess matches that were both decided in the blitz games: Karpov-Nakamura ?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?, ?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?, 0-1, 0-1 and Carlsen-Ivanchuk: ?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?, ?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?, 0-1, ?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?.

Let's first have a look at the games between former world champion Anatoli Karpov and online blitz specialist Hikaru Nakamura. The quick, theoretical draw in game one must have come as a big surprise to the organizers and the present fans, but after that the minimatch quickly became very exciting. Nakamura's knight on d6 looked a bit clumsy in game two, and with 24.Na4! and 25.Ba5! Karpov seemed to get the upper hand, but a few moves later everything was fine for Black.

Nakamura - Karpov



In the first blitz game (3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move) Karpov played his old favorite against he King's Indian: the Saemisch. 10...e6 is not the theoretical response and White was slightly better afterwards, but after some inaccurate moves Nakamura quickly turned it into a winning ending. After that, scoring a full point with Black was too difficult a task for Karpov against such a fast and solid opponent.



The Carlsen-Ivanchuk minimatch was at least as exciting. It started with a highly original Queen's Gambit where a quiet middlegame position suddenly turned into an ultra-sharp battle - Chucky's 25...Rae8! was a cool response to Carlsen's agressive play and afterwards the Norwegian nicely defended a slightly worse position. In the second game Carlsen's active play compensated for Ivanchuk's bishop pair, which against Black's bishop and knight was clearly not enough to get more than a theoretical advantage.

Ivanchuk - Carlsen



But in the first blitzer, probably due to an inaccurate move order in a Hedgehog English, Carlsen had to let both of his bishops be traded for Chuky's knights, and then the Ukrainian quickly spotted the tactical problem of the move 26...f5. A very smooth victory. Carlsen then had to go all or nothing and he did, by sacrificing some pawns in a Nimzo, but he got nowhere close to Black's king. Ivanchuk tried to win the ending for a while but then accepted the draw anyway.



And so yesterday it was time for the grande finale, with reigning world blitz champion and winner of this year's Tal Memorial blitz (besides some bigger events, of course!) Vassily Ivanchuk versus Japanese-born American Hikaru Nakamura, who, among other quickplay events, won the Corsican Masters exactly one year ago!

This final didn't reach the blitz stage. Nakamura went for an Open Ruy Lopez in game one and he was well prepared for Ivanchuk's treatment: the almost forgotten Keres Variation with Qe2, Rd1 and c4. It was a nice little motive in the ending where Black could allowing e5-e6 because of the g6 break after fixing White's kingside.

Nakamura - Ivanchuk



And then in the second game the Ukrainian was just outplayed! In an ending that should have been a draw (just look at the position after 21.Rac1) White centralized his rooks and king and put all his pawns on white squares, and suddenly he was just slightly better, with his knight against Black's bishop. Black's last mistake was to trade the last rooks, because after the instructive knight manoeuvre to c6 (attack a5 and square b4, but also covering e7 and e5 to keep the Black king away) his position was suddenly completely lost.

Another wonderful perfomance by Nakamura!

Photos thanks to Europe-Echecs


Video reports by Europe Echecs:



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