Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column reports on Hikaru Nakamura’s latest title.

Like most players, Nakamura’s results are mixed in the online tournaments. Indeed, he was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the recent Airthings Masters – but when he is on top form he is more than capable of racking up big scores at speed chess.

Malcolm Pein presents two sharp games featuring Nakamura in action against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and gives the opportunity for you to test your strength in a critical position.

Malcolm Pein on….Nakamura’s Latest Title

Hikaru Nakamura remains at the top of the tree at Chess.com, as he won the 2020 Speed Chess Championship final presented by OnJuno after a closely fought three-hour battle with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Nakamura secured his third title in a row thanks to his legendary prowess at Bullet Chess, played with one minute on the clock for all moves plus a one-second increment.

Nakamura was slightly ahead by 10.5-9.5 after two and a half hours of Blitz. MVL actually won the first two bullet games, before Nakamura pulled himself together to win five in a row and ran out the overall winner 18.5-12.5.

H. Nakamura – M. Vachier-Lagrave
Sicilian Defence 3+1

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 (Nakamura avoided MVL’s Sicilian Najdorf 10 times in the match with a quiet line) 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 a6 5.a4 e6 6.Bb3 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.Nbd2 Be7 9.Re1 0–0 10.c3 Nbd7 11.d4 b5 12.Bc2 Qc7 13.e5 Nd5 14.Ne4 dxe5 15.dxe5 Nxe5?? (15…Rfd8 16.h4 h6 17.Ng3 c4 18.Qd4 Nc5 19.Qg4 Kh8 was one reasonable continuation)

Test Your Strength

Nakmura's Latest Title

White to play and win

In 2016 MVL defeated Nakamura in 12 moves with this 19th-century sacrificial line that is not easy to combat in a Bullet game. The American was better prepared this time.

H. Nakamura – M. Vachier-Lagrave
Vienna Gambit 1+1

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.Bc4 g4 6.0–0 gxf3 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qxf3 Qh4 (8…Bh6 9.d4 Nxd4?? 10.Qh5+ Kg7 11.Bxf4 d6 12.Be5+ 1–0 Vachier Lagrave-Nakamura, chess.com 2016; 8…Nf6 is also good) 9.d4 Nxd4 10.Qd3 Ne6 11.Bxf4 Nxf4 12.Nd5 Bd6 13.Nxf4 Bxf4? (Now White gets a lot of play, 13…Ke8! followed by Ne7 was winning) 14.g3 Qg5 15.Rxf4+ Ke7 16.Qd4! Nf6 17.Rf5 Qxf5!? (17…Qg7 18.Raf1 Rf8 19.e5 could get out of hand) 18.exf5 d5 19.Qe5+ Kf7 20.Re1 Re8 21.Qxc7+ Bd7 22.Rxe8 Rxe8 23.Qxb7 Re2 24.Qxa7 Rxc2

Nakamura - Vachier-Lagrave

25.Qd4? (After 25.g4! threatening g5 White would have good chances to win) 25…Bxf5 26.a4 Be4 27.h3 Nh5 28.Qe5? Rg2+ 29.Kf1 Nxg3+ 30.Ke1 Re2+ 0–1

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Ng5 Qf6 (17…Qc7 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.Qh5 Nf6 20.Qh3) 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.Qh5 1–0

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