Nakamura Wins Tata Steel Chess India Rapid
Hikaru Nakamura won the first edition of the rapid tournament in Kolkata. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Nakamura Wins Tata Steel Chess India Rapid

30 | Chess Event Coverage

Hikaru Nakamura won the rapid part of the inaugural Tata Steel Chess India tournament in Kolkata. The American grandmaster scored 1.5 on the final day, which was just enough to stay ahead of Levon Aronian who scored only 1/3.

Nakamura drew his first three games on day one, which was slightly below par for his standard. He did have a long travel getting to Kolkata though! "I was just jet-lagged, tired. That doesn't mean I didn't play reasonable games, but I didn't really create much chances."

But after that, things went smoothly. He was obviously happy with the win that earned him an extra $10,000 on top of his starting fee. "I just wanted to play and I played well, and I won the event, so it's win-win."

Hikaru Nakamura Tata Steel India Chess 2018

Hikaru Nakamura. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chesss India.

Nakamura had been struggling in classical chess this year, so much that he dropped to number 17 in the world rankings. Playing well was an understandable goal for him, and he reached that goal.

With a 6/9 score he confirmed his status as top seed in the rapid event (also in the blitz by the way, which takes place Tuesday and Wednesday), and finished in clear first place. Funnily enough, it was exactly his expected score.


Nakamura's rapid rating didn't change over nine games. Source: 2700chess.

In the post-tournament interview in the online broadcast, the American GM made an interesting remark about the world championship match which also showed the importance he gives to chess at quicker time controls.

Nakamura: "I think I have to say I am rooting for Magnus because when I look at it, especially compared to this event, this is rapid and blitz, I think to have someone becoming the world champion when they're not as strong at rapid and blitz as well as classical, to me it would seem a bit odd to have a world champion who is not strong in all the formats. Because obviously Magnus is fabulous at blitz and rapid as well. Historically it would seem a bit off if Magnus doesn't win."

In the end, three draws on the last day (just like the first day) was in fact enough to stay ahead of Aronian, the co-leader after day two. In his two black games, the Berlin Ruy Lopez did its (drawish) job vs Vishy Anand and Sergey Karjakin. As White he drew a wild game against compatriot Wesley So.

If you're wondering about the odd move 35...Rb7 (where 35...e4 was winning!), that was played because So had touched his rook.

Naka: "It was a pretty wild game. Once I survived it was pretty good."

Wesley So Tata Steel Chess India 2018

Wesley So. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chesss India.

Runner-up Aronian had two whites on the last day, but could only draw those games. He dropped behind Nakamura thanks to his loss in round eight to Pentala Harikrishna, who would eventually finish in an excellent second place (beating Aronian on tiebreak there due to mutual result).

Sergey Karjakin was the only player to finish on a 50 percent score. In round seven he won a nice game against Pentala Harikrishna.

Vishy Anand had drawn all eight games before he faced his former second Surya Shekhar Ganguly, who was on a terribly 1.5/8 score. Amazingly, the two had never played an official game against each other before.

As mentioned in the first report on the tournament, Ganguly was a "board boy" (moving pieces on a wooden demonstration board) when Anand was playing in the 1992 Kolkata tournament. 26 years later, he got to beat his idol:


Surya Shekhar Ganguly Tata Steel Chess India 2018

A very special win for Ganguly. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chesss India.

One of Anand's eight draws was a special one. He also played for the first time against 14-year-old Nihal Sarin, together with Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (who will play the blitz) India's biggest talent. Sarin can be satisfied with this draw against the Indian legend:

Nihal vs Anand Tata Steel Chess India 2018

Did we see a former world champion playing a future world champion today? | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chesss India.

Mamedyarov won a good game in an Nimzo-Indian vs Karjakin in round eight.

Here's So's win over Nihal, the last game of the tournament:

Final standings Tata steel chess india

Watch the day 3 broadcast with IMs Tania Sachdev and Lawrence Trent.

Previous reports:

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