Nakamura Blunders In Candidates' Tournament 2nd Round

Nakamura Blunders In Candidates' Tournament 2nd Round

| 66 | Chess Event Coverage

With an incorrect combination Hikaru Nakamura blundered a piece today and lost his second-round game to Sergey Karjakin at the Candidates' Tournament. The other three games ended in draws.

You can talk about strategy and positional factors such as isolated queen's pawns, but sometimes a tactical error can spoil everything. In roughly these words commentator GM Alexandra Kosteniuk summarized what happened to Hikaru Nakamura today. Just when he seemed to be doing fairly OK, he completely miscalculated.

“Basically I played badly. I did many things wrong today,” said Nakamura, who chose the Queen's Indian Defense against Sergey Karjakin's 1.d4. Somehow he couldn't find the right setup for his pieces, and after twenty moves he wasn't feeling comfortable at all.

Vladimir Kramnik, who joined the live commentary for a while, considered the position strategically much better for White at that point.

Two world champions in the commentary booth: Vladimir Kramnik and Alexandra Kosteniuk. | Photo World Chess.

However, then it was Karjakin's turn to miss some of the most forcing continuations. The Russian GM, who prepared for the tournament with his team in Dubai, allowed Black back into the game.

Right there disaster struck for the American player. “It's ironic because at this point I'm probably only slightly worse,” said Nakamura. “And then I just completely lost my mind and blundered. Ridiculous.”

Being the fighter that he is, Nakamura played on for a few more moves (while shaking his head), but the loss was inevitable.

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Karjakin-Nakamura press conference courtesy of World Chess.

Levon Aronian and Viswanathan Anand played a a topical (side)line of the Queen's Gambit Declined — so topical that the last game was played only a week ago by Boris Gelfand at the Aeroflot tournament. 

It was Anand who deviated first, on move 13, but a few moves later he couldn't exactly remember his prep anymore. “Round about [16.Rfd1] I remembered the general principles but not the exact moves, so to speak,” said the five-time world champion.

There Anand put his queen on g5, but suggested the f6-square instead in the press conference. Aronian replied: “For some reason 16...Qg5 is the right move,” which revealed that both players had seen the position on their computer screens, but neither could remember the exact details.

This happens all the time in modern chess where top players have hundreds of variations to remember now that everyone has the same, super strong tools to analyze. Aronian: “I keep on having deja vu's during the games. I keep on thinking: yes, I have analyzed this!”

Levon Aronian sometimes realizes: “I have analyzed this!” | Photo World Chess.

Anand made a better impression than yesterday, when he won. He played accurately, and rightly avoided a variation in the game which he then tried out in the post-mortem. It was none other than Vladimir Kramnik who then criticized it, and Anand instantly stopped analyzing with the words: “Vlady is not approving!”

Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Aronian-Anand press conference courtesy of World Chess.

The longest and most interesting game of the round was Fabiano Caruana vs Anish Giri — so interesting that the players spent a long time analyzing lots of variations in their press conference. 

In an Anti-Berlin Caruana played a remarkable novelty, retreating his queen to its initial square. Giri responded with the pawn break ...f6, allowing an early passer for White: e5-e6. “It's always the question whether it's a weakness or a strength. It turned out to be a strength,” said Giri.

With comfortable shoes and a jacket Caruana and Giri arrived at the board in synch. | Photo World Chess.

After White's 20th move the Dutch GM Giri realized it was “not so double-edged anymore” and felt he was worse. The game was full of complicated possibilities, and many of them were analyzed by our super GM commentator Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

All in all, Caruana had some chances but with little time on the clock he couldn't make things very dangerous, and Giri played well under pressure.

The last game to mention was in fact the first to finish. Peter Svidler and Veselin Topalov played a game that can be summarized as: a lot of Berlin theory, lots of exchanges, draw. “A slightly regrettable game for the spectators I guess,” admitted Svidler, ”but I hoped for a slightly different opening choice here and did not get what I want.”

Pause and check out IM Danny Rensch's full video highlight recap of Round 2:

“Sometimes when you play the best moves it's not entertaining for the spectators but that happens in sport. There's nothing to do when both players make the best moves,” said Topalov.

Svidler-Topalov: lots of Berlin theory, lots of exchanges, draw. | Photo World Chess.


Annotations by IM Danny Rensch

The Svidler-Topalov press conference courtesy of World Chess.

2016 FIDE Candidates' | Round 2 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Anand,Viswanathan IND 2762 2973 1.5/2 1.00
2 Karjakin,Sergey RUS 2760 2964 1.5/2 1.00
3 Aronian,Levon ARM 2786 2778 1.0/2 1.25
4 Giri,Anish NED 2793 2790 1.0/2 1.00
5 Svidler,Peter RUS 2757 2770 1.0/2 1.00
6 Caruana,Fabiano USA 2794 2792 1.0/2 0.75
7 Nakamura,Hikaru USA 2790 2587 0.5/2 0.50
8 Topalov,Veselin BUL 2780 2569 0.5/2 0.50

The round 2 summary by World Chess.

Pairings round 3: Nakamura-Svidler, Giri-Karjakin, Anand-Caruana and Topalov-Aronian.

The FIDE Candidates' Tournament runs March 11-29 in the Central Telegraph building in Moscow. The total prize fund is €420,000 with the Tashir Group as the main sponsor. The games start 3 p.m. local time, which is 4 a.m. Pacific, 7 a.m. New York, noon GMT or 1 p.m. CET. The winner earns the right to play Magnus Carlsen in November in New York.

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