Zurich: Nakamura Crosses 2800 Mark, Kortchnoi-Uhlmann Ends 2-2

Zurich: Nakamura Crosses 2800 Mark, Kortchnoi-Uhlmann Ends 2-2

| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

After winning his second game at the Zurich Chess Challenge, GM Hikaru Nakamura became the 10th player in history to break the 2800 mark in the live ratings.

Nakamura defeated GM Sergey Karjakin in a tremendously sharp variation of the English. Caruana-Anand and Aronian-Kramnik ended in draws.

Like on Sunday, rapid chess was played in the morning, four hours before the third round of the Zurich Chess Challenge. Two legends of the royal game, GM Viktor Kortchnoi and GM Wolfgang Uhlmann, played the last two games of their exhibition match.

The first game, or rather the third of the match, was quite interesting. If you follow the evaluation of your engine you will notice that it fluctuates strongly — there were quite a few mistakes, but what can you expect?

The two grand maîtres of chess certainly provided good entertainment here.

Kortchnoi took the lead in game three. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

The fourth and final game was a rather unfortunate affair, a blot on the escutcheon, so to speak. Until that point, the two legends had played decent chess, but in this game Kortchnoi had a complete blackout and just let his bishop be trapped.

A huge oversight by Kortchnoi in game four. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

In all games Kortchnoi played extremely fast. It might well be the case that the 83-year-old, who suffered from a stroke two-and-a-half years ago, is simply not capable anymore of concentrating longer than 15 or 20 seconds straight. As one spectator put it: it's been a privilege that we could still see these two behind the chess board.

In the afternoon, the third round saw something similar as the second: one player winning his game quickly thanks to excellent preparation. And like yesterday, his opponent had seen the proper way of playing, but couldn't remember.

 A similar scenario in round three. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

Before the game GM Hikaru Nakamura had prepared a very sharp variation of the English, and that was exactly what he got on the board against GM Sergey Karjakin. Two big games, Leko-Aronian (2008) and Carlsen-Dominguez (2009) had ended in a draw.

“It's very nice, except the computers kind of prove it's nothing! That's the only problem,” said Nakamura. “If this was 15 or 20 years ago I'd probably make up some story about that this was great preparation but now with computers of course I won't be able to play this after today. So I might as well give the variations.”

Nakamura: “I might as well give the variations.” | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

With commentators GM Yannick Pelletier and GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Nakamura showed an amazing computer line that leads to a draw. Karjakin probably has the same in his notes on his laptop, but at the board he couldn't remember it.

And so Nakamura is back to being the sole leader in the tournament. With this victory he also crossed the 2800 mark in the live ratings.

Nakamura crosses 2800 for the first time. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

Co-leader GM Viswanathan Anand drew a fascinating game with GM Fabiano Caruana. The Indian didn't give any details about his preparation, except that he “hadn't thought through everything.” That was also clear from the fact that he spent quite some time on his 11th, 12th and especially 13th move.

The players quickly reached a queenless middlegame where Black had sacrificed an exchange for a pawn (and the bishop pair). A black pawn on c3 was facing a white pawn on b2 for several moves, and this tension led to amazingly complicated variations for the players to calculate.

Suddenly Caruana missed something rather simple: that Black's bishop on c6 was protecting a rook on e8! That's why he had missed 24...Ne3, when Anand seemed to be taking over the initiative. Soon after the ending turned out to be a draw anyway.

A fascinating draw between Caruana and Anand. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge.

For GM Levon Aronian the 2015 Zurich Chess Challenge is becoming a tournament of missed chances. In the first round he went for a draw in a promising position, in the second he couldn't remember a variation that would force a draw, and in the third he missed a good chance against GM Vladimir Kramnik.

Aronian managed to get an advantage in one of Kramnik's specialities: the Catalan. On move 30 the Armenian player was going to win a healthy pawn, and Kramnik decided to look for counterplay on the kingside.

That was a good strategy; Aronian didn't choose the best square for his knight, and it was probably this moment when Kramnik escaped.

Kramnik escapes with a draw. | Photo Zurich Chess Challenge. 

2015 Zurich Chess Challenge | Pairings & Results

Round 1 14 February 15:00 CET   Round 2 15 February 15:00 CET
Anand 1-1 Kramnik   Kramnik 1-1 Nakamura
Aronian 1-1 Karjakin   Karjakin 1-1 Caruana
Caruana 0-2 Nakamura   Anand 2-0 Aronian
Round 3 16 February 15:00 CET   Round 4 17 February 15:00 CET
Aronian 1-1 Kramnik   Kramnik - Karjakin
Caruana 1-1 Anand   Anand - Nakamura
Nakamura 2-0 Karjakin   Aronian - Caruana
Round 5 18 February 13:00 CET        
Caruana - Kramnik        
Nakamura - Aronian        
Karjakin - Anand        


2015 Zurich Chess Challenge | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Nakamura,Hikaru 2776 3063 phpfCo1l0.png 1 2 2 5.0
2 Anand,Viswanathan 2797 2910 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2 4.0
3 Kramnik,Vladimir 2783 2783 1 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 3.0
4 Caruana,Fabiano 2811 2658 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.0 1.50
5 Aronian,Levon 2777 2660 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1 2.0 1.25
6 Karjakin,Sergey 2760 2668 0 1 1 phpfCo1l0.png 2.0 1.00

The tournament consists of five rounds of classical chess played from Saturday, February 14 till Wednesday, February 18. On the last day, Thursday, February 19, the players will play five rounds of rapid chess with reversed colors.

During the first five days, a winner of a classical game earns 2 points for the overall standings; the loser 0. In case of a draw each player earns 1 point. In the rapid games the winner earns 1 point, by a draw each player half a point and the loser 0. phpfCo1l0.png

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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