Nakamura Chess960 World Champion - UPDATE: video added!

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
NakamuraThere's just no stoppin' him. U.S Champ and Donostia winner Hikaru Nakamura last night defeated Levon Aronian three times in a row to clinch the Chess960 "World title" in the most convincing manner. Movsesian won the match for third place against Bologan 2.5-1.5. Video added.

The Mainz Chess Classic, the big, annual festival of rapid chess (20 minutes for the game + 5 seconds increment per move), is held July 27-August 2 in the Rheingoldhalle of the Congress Centre, Hilton Hotel in Mainz, Germany. During the day many open events take place while at night two unofficial World Championships are held: Tue-Thu the 6th Rapid Chess960 Wch with Aronian, Bologan, Movsesian and Nakamura, and then Fri-Sun the 14th GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship with Anand, Aronian, Nepomniachtchi and Naiditsch.

Update: Chess.FM's Macauley Peterson sent us the following video which is published under the Creative Commons license (”BY-NC-ND“), meaning it may be freely re-posted and shared, with attribution:

Nakamura clinches Chess960 Wch title on Day 3 in Mainz

By Johannes Fischer

When Levon Aronian and Nakamura sat down to play the final of the Chess960 World Rapid Chess Championship last night, it was difficult to name a clear favorite. In the preliminaries Aronian had dominated the first day, Nakamura the second. Both are known as extremely strong blitz and rapid players, and both had shown their Chess960 skills on more than one occasion.

Taking this into account, the match was surprisingly one-sided. Nakamura simply won the first three games to become new World Champion – in a very convincing manner.


Nakamura and Aronain in the Chess960 'Wch' final

In the first game Aronian opted with Black for an elastic, dynamic set-up. But when White managed to create weaknesses in Black’s camp, which he soon occupied with his pieces, Black seemed to be in trouble. In a bid for counterplay Aronian decided to give material but Nakamura defended coolly and sent his king from the queenside to the kingside, where it finally was safe. With his last swindling chances gone Aronian resigned.

start position

1.f4 f5 2.Bd4 d6 3.Qg1 c5 4.Bc3 Nc7 5.g4 e6 6.d3 Bf7 7.e4 Ne7 8.Ne2 Qg8 9.Nb3 b6 10.O-O-O g6 11.Nd2 O-O-O 12.Bh3 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Ned5 14.Bf6 Rd7 15.c4 Nb4 16.a3 Nc6 17.Bc3 Be7 18.g5 d5 19.Nf6 Bxf6 20.Bxf6 Qf8 21.Nc3 Qd6 22.Qf2 Kb7 23.Kb1 Rf8 24.cxd5 Nxd5 25.Nxd5 Qxd5


26...e5 27.Bxd7 Nxd4 28.Rxd4 cxd4 29.Rxe5 Qa2+ 30.Kc1 Qa1+ 31.Kc2 d3+ 32.Kxd3 Qd1+ 33.Qd2 Bc4+ 34.Ke3 Qg1+ 35.Kf3 h5 36.Re1 Qc5 37.Be7 Bd5+ 38.Kg3 h4+ 39.Kh3 1–0

The first game in the fight for third place between Bologan and Movsesian took a different course. Here it was Bologan who pressed with White and advanced his pawns early on. However, this gave Black good counterchances. He forced an exchange of queens and attacked the weak white pawns afterwards. Bologan found no good way to defend them and soon had a lost position, which Movsesian converted into a full point.


Movsesian with the black pieces against Bologan

Inspired by this win Movsesian played a little brilliancy in the second game. Sacrificing an exchange, he pushed on the kingside, in the center and finally on the queenside, where he mated Black’s king.

start position

1.g4 g5 2.Qh3 Ne6 3.e3 Nd6 4.d4 h5 5.d5 Ng7 6.gxh5 Ngf5 7.Nd3 O-O-O 8. e4 Nd4 9.Ne3 f5 10.e5 f4 11.Ng4 Nc4 12.O-O-O Ne2+ 13.Kb1 Nxg1 14.Rxg1 b5 15.Rd1 Qf5 16.b3 Nb6 17.Nc5 e6 18.Be4 Qf8 19.d6 f3 20.Bxa8 Nxa8


21.Nf6 g4 22.Qf1 c6 23.Qe1 1–0

While Movsesian was brimming with confidence Aronian appeared shaken after his loss in the first game. At any rate, it hard to find another explanation for the blunder he committed in the second game against Nakamura: After to a relatively simple oversight Aronian lost knight and game. “Probably I had a bad day”, he commented wryly in the press conference.

start position

1.b3 b5 2.f3 f6 3.d4 f5 4.Nd3 g6 5.Qf2 Bf6 6.g3 Qh6 7.e3 Ne6 8.Qe2 Nb6 9.Nc3 a6 10.Nc5 Nxc5 11.dxc5 Qg7 12.Qd3 b4 13.cxb6 cxb6 14.Nd5 Bxa1 15. Nc7+ Kf7 16.O-O Bc3 17.f4 Bxh1 18.Kxh1 Qf6 19.Rbd1


19...Qc6+ 20.Qd5+ Qxd5+ 21.Rxd5? (21.Nxd5 was better) 21...Rb7 22.Nxa6 Ra8 23.Nxb4 Bxb4 24.a4 Bc5 25.Re1 e6 26.Rd3 d5 0–1

With Nakamura and Movsesian both leading 2-0 the final seemed to come to a swift end. The match Aronian vs. Nakamura in fact ended quickly. To get back into the match Aronian used lots of time in the third game – time which he later lacked. He got lost in the middlegame complications and fell victim to a surprising attack by White.

start position

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 c6 4.g3 d6 5.d4 Bd7 6.Rd3 Na6 7.a3 Bh6+ 8.Bd2 Bg7 9.Be3 exd4 10.Bxd4 Nc5 11.Rd2 Nf6 12.Ng5 Rf8 13.O-O-O O-O-O 14.e5 Ng4 15.f4 Ne6 16.Nxe6 Bxe6 17.h3 dxe5 18.Bxa7 Nf6


19.Ba6 e4 20.Qg1 Rxd2 21.Bxb7+ Kxb7 22.Qb6+ 1–0

A convincing victory, which made Nakamura new Chess960 Rapid World Champion.

Now the fourth game between Aronian and Nakamura was just a formal affair, and maybe it was the lack of tension which made Aronian spoil an advantageous position into a draw which led to a final result of 3,5:0,5 for Nakamura.


The new Chess960 World Champion: Hikaru Nakamura

Things went less smoothly for Movsesian. In the third round he was not able to cope with Bologan’s aggressive play and lost, which made the fourth game crucial. But Movsesian quickly recovered from the loss and played the fourth game in a very professional manner. Despite Bologan’s efforts to stir up trouble Movsesian managed to keep everything under control and steered the game into a completely drawn rook ending. After a couple of moves Bologan accepted the inevitable and agreed to a draw. Movsesian thus won the match 2,5:1,5 and became third in the Chess960 Rapid World Championship.

With only 2 draws from 20 games it was an altogether exciting World Championship, which may help to give Chess960 the popularity it deserves. As Levon Aronian remarked at the press conference: “Chess960 is healthy and good for your chess. If you get into it and not just move the pieces to achieve the known position it really improves your chess vision.”

Tomorrow, in the GRENKE LEASING Rapid World Championship, where he will meet Vishy Anand, Arkadij Naiditsch and Ian Nepomniachtchi Aronian has a chance to show how Chess960 improved his classical chess vision.

FiNet Chess960 Open Meanwhile, yesterday was the first of two days of the ultra-strong 8th edition of the FiNet Chess960 Open. It's the same rate of play (20 minutes + 5 seconds) with the first five rounds on Thursday and then rounds 6-11 today. At the moment of writing, after eight rounds, Kamsky, Mamedyarov, Grigoriants and Grischuk are sharing the lead with 6.5 points.

FiNet Chess960 Open 2009 | Round 8 Standings

round 8 standings


Alexei Grischuk, who came to Mainz after winning the ICC Qualifier


Gata Kamsky, like almost all participants in a relaxed outfit...


...including Ian Nepomniachtchi, apparently a fan of Barcelona's 'beauty in football'

Photos © Christian Bossert / Mainz Chess Classic.


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