“Stonking Performance” For Nakamura At London's Super Rapidplay Open

“Stonking Performance” For Nakamura At London's Super Rapidplay Open

| 59 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hikaru Nakamura whipped the field at the London Chess Classic Super Rapidplay Open held over the weekend. The American GM won the two-day tournament with a stunning 9.5 score.

He only conceded a draw to English GM Matthew Sadler and won his other nine games. That's what you call an outstanding performance for Hikaru Nakamura, who dominated the “Super Rapidplay Open,” the first event of the London Chess Classic, and clinched the £8,000 (€10,155 / $12,548) first prize.

Anish Giri of the Netherlands did well too with a sole second place behind Nakamura. Three of the other top GMs who will be playing the main event of the London Chess Classic later this week ended in the group of 8 points: Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik.

They shared third place with Nigel Short, Aleksandr Lenderman, Eric Hansen, Daniel Naroditsky, Nick Pert, Alon Greenfeld and Simon Williams.

The main organizer tweeted:

It's a rare thing to see top GMs playing an open event, although this is exactly what happened at the Qatar Masters too. If it's the start of a trend, few chess fans will complain!

The London Chess Classic always had a strong emphasis on youth, and so it was both a nice and logical gesture to pair all six top GMs against junior (U18) players in the first round on Saturday.

The pairings for the first round. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Five players won with expected ease, but Hikaru Nakamura met pretty decent resistance and needed his GM endgame technique to win:

A not so easy first round for Nakamura! | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

In the second round it was Vishy Anand who was in danger of dropping his first half-point. His opponent Daniel Prill, a young German player rated 2193, played a fine game and reached an equal rook ending until the following happened. (Please note that the annotations in this report were provided by John Saunders, the press officer in London.)

In round three, two big names were in serious trouble, but both turned lost positions into a win. First Mickey Adams:

About 400 players participated. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Fabiano Caruana won a pawn in the opening and then another one, but allowed his opponent Ali Mortazavi to set up a dangerous attack. At some point White missed a nice win.

In round four, finally some minor upsets were seen. Polish IM Jacek Stopa drew Anand, Uzbek GM Jahongir Vakhidov drew Adams and Jon Speelman beat Loek van Wely (not that much of an upset considering the fact that Speelman is a former Candidates’ semi-finalist).

Nakamura was almost on the wrong side of a huge upset in round five. He played the Scandinavian but wasn't paying attention in the opening and dropped a piece as early as move 8! However, the American GM kept on playing and even won.

Quite a few spectators showed up as well. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

In round six, the first round on Sunday, Nakamura was finally stopped. It was English GM Matthew Sadler, the enormously talented grandmaster who returned to regular tournament chess a few years ago, who had his opponent on the ropes but let his advantage slip away.

In the same round Giri got sweet revenge for his loss against Kramnik in Qatar, using a remarkable opening setup.

Giri-Kramnik. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Giri and Caruana were still on 100 percent but drew on board one in round seven. Nakamura and McShane joined them in first place as they beat Adams and Agdestein respectively. The Norwegian GM missed a devilish trick which you can try to find yourself:

McShane-Agdestein. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

At that point there were four leaders: Nakamura, Giri, McShane and Caruana. Nakamura won his last three games (finishing with 4/4 after his draw with Sadler) and, needless to say, that was more than enough to clinch victory! After beating Giri he faced Caruana:

Caruana-Nakamura. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

In the last round the only player who could still stop Nakamura was Anand. The Indian GM was the only player on 8/9, half a point behind the leader. Going for White's h-pawn was a winning attempt that completely backfired, and so Nakamura also won that last game, which he started with 1.b3, just like in the first round.

Nakamura also beat Anand in the final round. | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill.

Super Rapidplay Open | Final Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Title Name Rtg TB1
1 1 GM Nakamura Hikaru  2905 9.5
2 12 GM Giri Anish  2674 8.5
3 2 GM Caruana Fabiano  2858 8
  3 GM Anand Viswanathan  2809 8
  5 GM Kramnik Vladimir  2785 8
  7 GM Short Nigel D  2740 8
  11 GM Lenderman Aleksandr  2680 8
  15 GM Hansen Eric  2658 8
  19 GM Naroditsky Daniel  2620 8
  20 GM Pert Nicholas  2620 8
  27 GM Greenfeld Alon  2541 8
  45 GM Williams Simon K  2448 8
13 4 GM Adams Michael  2808 7.5
  6 GM Sadler Matthew D  2770 7.5
  8 GM Agdestein Simen  2718 7.5
  13 GM McShane Luke J  2673 7.5
  26 GM Cherniaev Alexander  2553 7.5
  28 IM Adair James R  2538 7.5
  33 GM Chirila Ioan-Cristian  2503 7.5
  38 IM Dourerassou Jonathan  2481 7.5
  64 IM Trent Lawrence  2388 7.5
22 10 GM Howell David W L  2680 7
  14 GM Hebden Mark L  2665 7
  16 IM Hawkins Jonathan  2635 7
  17 GM Jones Gawain C B  2628 7
  18 IM Ghasi Ameet K  2620 7
  21 GM Nunn John D M  2601 7
  22 GM Gormally Daniel W  2583 7
  24 IM Bluebaum Matthias  2560 7

(Full final standings here)

The rapid tournament was a 10-round Swiss played on Saturday and Sunday, with five rounds each day. The time control was 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.  Last year the London Chess Classic's main event was a rapid tournament, when Nakamura also won.

John Saunders provided some statistics:

“The PGN file of games played on the top ten boards, 100 in all, shows that only 17 of these top-end encounters ended in draws. 83% decisive games is enough to make any tournament organiser or armchair spectator salivate. The titled player count shows that 34 GMs, 40 IMs and 30 with lower titles, took part, from 48 different countries, with 266 from England, followed by 16 from France and 14 from Norway. 405 players took part in total: 821 white wins, 234 draws and 757 black wins, making 1,812 in all and 87% decisive games.” 

On Monday evening the elite group of six players will take part in a blitz tournament that will determine the drawing of colors for the main event, which will be held Wednesday-Sunday, Dec. 10-14. This year it's five rounds of classical chess.

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