Two Wins For White In Aronian-Nakamura Match

Two Wins For White In Aronian-Nakamura Match

| 13 | Chess Event Coverage

[Information packaged from Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis press releases by Communications Specialist Brian Jerauld]

Top American GM Hikaru Nakamura and world number five GM Levon Aronian are knotted at one win apiece in their mini-match in St. Louis, Missouri. The pair will play two more classical games before a blitz medley on day five.

The "Showdown in St. Louis" features a $100,000 purse(!) and takes place from November 21-25.

Image courtesy official site

Even though the pair drew both head-to-head encounters a few months ago in St. Louis at the Sinquefield Cup, they have already produced nearly as many wins as the current world championship match. Both of the first two games were taken by White.

GM Hikaru Nakamura being interviewed after the game. "It's cold weather here, I need to wear something warm," he said about his hat. (Screenshot courtesy CCSCSL Youtube channel).

In game one, Nakamura played a model game for opposite-colored bishop aggression. The black pawn on f7 was not long for this world. When it fell, eventually the rest of the Armenian's kingside did also.

GM Hikaru Nakamura (photo courtesy Austin Fuller, CCSCSL).

In a Ragozin, White pushed on the queenside but switched flanks after Aronian's feisty 11...e5.

Commentator GM Yasser Seirawan was not impressed by White's treatment of the opening, but Aronian eventually became the defender, got low on time, and allowed White's e-pawn to journey too far.

Nakamura was at a loss to explain some of his play, especially the counter-break 14. e4. He said Black's position went from tenuous to lost after 29..h5.

Full analysis by GM Yasser Seirawan, courtesy of the host club:

In game two, Aronian struck back with a win of his own. His queenside majority was more mobile and dangerous than Black's version on the other wing. The computers initially rated the ending as equal and only altered their assessment after White's b-pawn got to the 5th rank.

GM Levon Aronian (photo courtesy Austin Fuller, CCSCSL).

Somewhere around move 36 Nakamura may have needed to place his king on c6, focusing more on the pawn's advancement rather than the White king's invasion.

Eventually Nakamura resigned since he cannot hold the blockade. In the final position, if the knight moves, White's king marches onward to shepherd the passed pawn. If instead the king moves, White has 51. b6 and the king squeezes through via the b5 square.

Game analysis courtesy WGM Jennifer Shahade and the CCSCSL.

The two square off again today and tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time (GMT -6), 8 p.m. London. After that, they'll play 16 blitz games on Tuesday, which count for one "round" for match standings.

Here's the full broadcast of round 1 and round 2.

Outside the marquee event, the other big news is from one of the two norm-hunting tournaments that the club is hosting.

IM Sam Sevian, the number one U-14 player in the world, is now unofficially the youngest American ever to become a grandmaster.

IM Sam Sevian, here in 2013 as the youngest player (12) to compete in a U.S. Championship.

He actually already had his three norms (all coming in 2014) and lacked only the 2500 minimum rating. Sevian did not waste any time -- he began the event at 2484 and promptly won his first four games and naturally leads the round robin.

GMs Ben Finegold and another "Sam" (Egyptian Samy Shoker) trail with 2.5/4.

Sevian began by beating two GMs on the opening day, then a pair of strong IMs the day after. Here's the game that clinched the rating threshold. He survived a wild middlegame:

The soon-to-be GM is the highest-rated player born in this century and is now a top-50 junior, with 7+ more years to stay on this list. Assuming his GM title is conferred, he will pass the current record for youngest American grandmaster. That record has been held by GM Ray Robson since 2009, who was preceded by, you guessed it, Nakamura.

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