Malcolm Pein on…Nakamura’s Revenge

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In Malcolm Pein’s Daily Telegraph today we have news of Hikaru Nakamura’s revenge over Wesley So in a recent online tournament.

It wasn’t plain sailing, though. Today’s games shows So attacking Nakamura’s king in fine tactical style.

Test your own strength on the second position. The first move in the winning sequence is certainly unusual!

Malcolm Pein on…Nakamura’s Revenge

Hikaru Nakamura avenged his defeat by Wesley So in the Skilling Open on Chess24 recently and qualified for the final of the Chess.com Speed Chess Championship after an enthralling three-hour battle in the semifinal.

Nakamura won 5-4 in the first part of the contest, which was 90 minutes of Blitz, played with five minutes on the clock and a one-second increment per move. So levelled the score when he emerged 4.5-3.5 ahead after an hour of 3+1 Blitz.

The contest was decided with 30 minutes of 1+1 Bullet, as Nakamura just prevailed 5-4, although, So was fighting back and had won the last two games before time was up.

Tactical Encounter

W. So – H. Nakamura
Ruy Lopez Berlin
3+1

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Bc4 Qd6 8.Qe2 0–0 9.Bg5 Bf5 (After 9…Be6 10.Nbd2 Bxc4 11.Nxc4 Qe6 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.Nfd2 b5 14.Ne3 f5 Black’s position was a little loose, but he had more space and some activity in Caruana–Kramnik, Norway Chess, Stavanger 2017)

10.Bxf6 (Essential, if 10.Nbd2 e4 11.dxe4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 Black is already slightly better, as capturing the bishop on e4 loses the queen after 13.Qxe4 Rae8) 10…Qxf6 11.Nbd2 Bb6 12.Ne4 Qe7 13.Ng3 Bg6 (Now White takes the initiative. After the safer 13…Be6, White would be wary of grabbing the e5 pawn in a Blitz game, even if the computer thinks it’s possible. 14.Nxe5 Rfe8 15.Nxc6 Qd6 16.Bxe6 Rxe6 17.Ne4 Qxc6 18.g4)

14.h4 h6 15.h5 Bh7 16.Nh4!? Rad8? (One slip is all it takes. 16…Kh8! intending Qe7–g5 and f7–f5 would be fine for Black, now he is throttled by the invading knights) 17.Ng6! Qg5

Nakamura's Revenge

18.Ne4!! (18.Nxf8 Kxf8 was not completely clear as 19.0–0?? allows Qxg3) 18…Qxg2 19.0–0–0! (Threatening to trap the black queen with Rd1-g1) 19…Bxg6 20.hxg6 Qxg6 21.Rdg1 Qf5 (There is no defence to the attack on the open files) 22.Rxh6 Qf4+ 23.Qd2 Qxe4 (If 23…Qxd2+ 24.Kxd2 threatens mate in one with Ne4–f6 and if 24…Rfe8 25.Rhg6 Kf8 26. Rxg7 Rd7 27.Nf6 Red8 28.Rh7 is curtains)

Test Your Strength

Nakamura's Revenge Puzzle

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

24.Rhg6! Qh4 25.Rxg7+ Kh8 26.R7g4 Qh7 27.Qg5 f6 28.Qh4 1–0

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