Mark Crowthers of TWIC reported that Hikaru Nakamura has put himself in a strong position to win his first elite tournament when he went to 8/11 by defeating Russian Champion Ian Nepomniachtchi with the black pieces. World Champion Viswanthan Anand was held by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave as was Levon Aronian by Ruslan Ponomariov. Magnus Carlsen ground down Vladimir Kramnik on the black side of a Catalan. The remaining games were drawn.
The Tata Steel Chess website reported that Hikaru Nakamura of the U.S. (see picture) took the smallest possible lead on India’s Viswanathan Anand in the dash to the finish of the 73rd annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament Friday. While the world champion settled for a draw with black against France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in eleventh-round action, the American grandmaster, also playing black, handed in a victory against Russian national champion Ian Nepomniashchi. That meant that, with just two more rounds to go, Nakamura was back on top of the standings with 8 points for a tournament record of six wins, four draws and one loss. Anand, unbeaten with four wins and seven draws to his name, followed at half a point.
Nakamura, who opted for the advance variation of the Caro-Kann in the encounter with Nepomniashchi, told reporters afterwards that although he ”had recently lost a game with this line against (Russia’s Peter) Svidler,” he “vaguely remembered that (former world champion Anatoly) Karpov suggested some time ago 7…Bg4” as an improvement and “so I decided it was worth a try.” As a result, Nakamura came out of the opening with a better position than in the game against Svidler.
Nepomniashchi sacrificed a pawn with (see diagram) 17. Ne2, where 17. exf6 would have given him equal play, but, Nakamura said, “that was not enough for him, apparently. People may say I’m an aggressive player but it was clear ‘Nepo’ was the one out for a kill today.“
Seven moves later, however, the Russian champion went wrong with (see diagram) 24.Qxg7, where, according to Nakamura, he should have played 24.Qe3 Bd5 25.h5 0-0-0 26.Nc3 with an unclear position. “He seems to have missed that after 24…Rh7 he could not go 25.Bxb6 because 25…Bxh4+ would have lost him his queen,” Nakamura explained. As the game went, Nepomniashchi tried 25.Qe5 but that led to an ending in which Nakamura coasted to victory on his 44th, an exchange and two pawns up.
“I’m happy with the result,” Nakamua said. “I played very well today, but there’s two rounds left and I’m not quite there yet. I play (Russia’s Vladimir) Kramnik on Saturday and he is a former world champion and all that. But I’m not concerned: I’m on form and I’ll have white.”
- 73rd Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee 2011 (Wijk aan Zee NED)
Fri 14th Jan 2011 - Sun 30th Jan 2011 - Official Site
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- B-Group (14 players 13 Rds SRR Indiv TC:100:50:15+30spm(1)) - Games in PGN: GpB | LiveB
- C-Group (14 players 13 Rds SRR Indiv TC:100:50:15+30spm(1)) - Games in PGN: GpC | LiveC