Tata Steel Chess India: Nakamura Holds Slim Lead At Blitz Half
Top seed Nakamura tops the blitz after day one. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Tata Steel Chess India: Nakamura Holds Slim Lead At Blitz Half

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Nov 13, 2018, 9:35 AM |
10 | Chess Event Coverage

After winning the rapid, Hikaru Nakamura has good chances to take the first prize at the blitz part of the Tata Steel Chess India tournament in Kolkata. The American grandmaster scored 6.5/9 and is half a point ahead of Wesley So.

Monday was a rest day in the tournament, but the players did pay a brief visit to the tournament hall. A one-hour Q&A was organized for the many chess fans that are visiting each day, followed by an autograph session. Although it's only the first time that this event is being organized, the turn-out is great. It's clear that the presence of top grandmasters is something special in this city.

In the evening, almost all players joined for a dinner party thrown by the owner of the organizing company Gameplan, and some of them even warmed up a little for some friendly blitz. It should be mentioned that co-commentator IM Lawrence Trent is a very decent blitz player, and one of his scalps was none other than former world blitz champion Sergey Karjakin.

On Tuesday the first set of nine rounds of blitz was played, and during the first half, it was the Nakamura show. Scoring 4.5/5, the American player was already 1.5 points ahead of the pack. Finishing with four draws was enough to keep the sole lead, but the gap has decreased to half a point going into the final day.

With his pet system 1.Nf3 and 2.e3, Nakamura didn't get too much against Surya Shekhar Ganguly but just one inaccuracy by the latter was enough to get into trouble, and lose quickly:

Hikaru Nakamura Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

Starting the day with an easy win. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

A great game by Nakamura was played in round five, against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. An early exchange sacrifice worked wonderfully for Black, who played the whole game in the style of Garry Kasparov, never giving his opponent time to breathe.

Hikaru Nakamura Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

A lovely game by Naka. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Scoring 5/9, Pentala Harikrishna again did pretty well. And like in the rapid, he defeated Levon Aronian today with the white pieces. This 8.d4 line where White sacrifices a pawn in the Ruy Lopez is well suited for blitz, where the initiative is very important.

Pentala Harikrishna Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

Again doing fine: Pentala Harikrishna. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Nakamura's closest rival at the moment is Wesley So, who is on 6/9. He won a similar game against Ganguly as Nakamura did: profiting from the first mistake with a series of blows.

Wesley So Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

Wesley So did better than in the rapid so far. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Vishy Anand didn't have a great start; he drew two games and then lost to Karjakin. By then, Chess.com's Rakesh Kulkarni found the amazing stat that Anand hadn't won a single game in the 24 games he had played in India since winning the World Cup in 2002 in Hyderabad! That included the match with Carlsen in Chennai and the rapid games here in Kolkata.

But right there and then, Anand started winning. He defeated compatriots Ganguly, Vidit and Praggnanandhaa to climb to second place. His first-ever game with Pragg was spectacular:

Praggnanandhaa vs Anand Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

What a game between Praggnanandhaa and Anand! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

Praggnanandhaa can be very satisfied with his first day, though. He scored 3.5/9 which included two wins, one on time vs Ganguly and the following, against Karjakin:

Praggnanandhaa Kolkata Tata Steel Chess India Blitz

Praggnanandhaa is already a very decent blitz player too. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Tata Steel Chess India.

But Anand couldn't keep it up. After two draws, he lost the last game of the day against Levon Aronian, in another wild battle. Here it is, again with notes by Dejan Bojkov but also with some ideas from Aronian himself, who explained the game in the live broadcast:

null

Wednesday is the last day of play in Kolkata. Another nine rounds of blitz will be played, with the same pairings as today but with reversed colors.

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


Previous reports:

More from PeterDoggers
Nakamura Beats So In Bullet, Wins Speed Chess Championship

Nakamura Beats So In Bullet, Wins Speed Chess Championship

So Ends Duda Fairy Tale, Reaches Speed Chess Final

So Ends Duda Fairy Tale, Reaches Speed Chess Final