Nakamura wins the Zurich Chess Challenge 2015 Print
Friday, 20 February 2015 08:01

Nakamura wins the Zurich Chess Challenge 2015

After five highly dramatic rounds, the American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura managed to equalize Indian Viswanathan Anand's one point lead after the Classical games, mainly because he beat Anand in the direct duel in round 3. In the end, both players finished with 9 points each, so according to the regulations, a single Armageddon blitz game had to decide on the overall winner. Anand chose the white pieces and therefore had to win the showdown, but the American convincingly refuted Anand's early kingside attack and invaded the white queenside with his heavy pieces. Anand tried to give an exchange in order to lessen the pressure, but Nakamura continued to find the best moves and in the end won another rook to decide the fate of the tournament to his favor.

ZCC2015 Rapid Anand-Nakamura byEteriKublashvili

Round 5: Anand wins the classical section

by Marc Lang

In today's round, the players had the last chance to fight for a doubled price - a win in the classical games was worth two points and in tomorrow's rapid tournament only one. As both results are added together in order to determine the overall winner, especially the players that are not known as rapid specialists were more or less obliged to take a few risks

. ZCC2015 Round5 Anand byGeorgKradolfer

The first game to end was Nakamura - Aronian that saw once again why the so-called Berlin Defense has also "The Berlin Wall" as a nickname. Although Nakamura played a new move already at move 6, he didn't manage to emerge out of the opening with an advantage and as the rest of the game went on without any clashes or complications, a draw was agreed on move 44 in a totally equal pawn ending.

Meanwhile, Caruana tried his best to win his first game of the tournament. Playing Vladimir Kramnik with white, who had drawn all of his games so far, he opted for a seemingly quiet Italian opening that soon came to life after Caruana pushed first his pawns on the queen's wing and then in the center. Kramnik, however, placed his pieces on very active squares and maintained the balance with a temporary pawn sacrifice that ultimately lead to a drawn rook ending.

More excitement was granted by Karjakin - Anand, where the tournament's leader had the chance to widen the gap to his pursuers. In an English Opening, both players followed a less common, but solid line which Karjakin played in a somewhat passiv way. Nevertheless, just when Anand's pieces threatened to become to active, the Russian went for simplifications and steered the game in an equal endgame that was soon agreed drawn.

So before tomorrow's rapid games, Anand is leading with 7 points, a full point ahead of Nakamura with 6, but the American is well-known for his rapid and blitz skills and even Kramnik (5 points) has still some chances if he performs well tomorrow.

Remember: All classical games count as double (a win is 2 points, a draw 1) while the rapid results are included only with 1 point for a win and 0.5 for a draw.

Rapid games start tomorrow at 13:00 CET, with a new round beginning at every full hour.

Round 4: India strikes back!

by Marc Lang

In round 4, the unbeaten leaders of the tournament finally met: Anand played Nakamura, whom he had never beaten before in classical games. So the question was, if this series continued or if the indian player could defeat his personal nemesis for the first time to take over the lead before tomorrow's final round.

So Anand - Nakamura certainly was destined to be the game of the day and this is what it turned out to be. Starting with a calm Bf4 Queen's Gambit, Anand played a novelty at move 15 by moving his king instead of taking immediate actions. Later, Nakamura could have changed his queen for two white rooks, but refrained from doing so. The post-mortem analysis showed, however, that this had been his chance to change the course of the game to his favor. Instead, the American played too passively and found himself in a heavy-piece ending with Anand's heavy pieces and knight being much more active than Nakamura's rooks, queen and bishop. Black tried one last desperate attack on the white king, but Anand kept his cool and in the end it was him who delivered mate.

Aronian - Caruana was a highly theoretical duel in the so-called "Lasker Defence" of the Queen's Gambit, which has he reputation of being a rather drawish opening - and the game could by no means refute this. Aronian tried to put some pressure on the Italian's position, but the evaluation of the position never really swung to either player's favor. In a completely equal endgame with two rooks and a bishop for both sides, a draw was finally agreed.

ZCC2015 Roun4 PlayingHall byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 Round4 Anand byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 Round4 Karjakin-Kramnik byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 Round4 Kramnik byGeorgKradolfer
Photos: Etery Kublashvili und Georg Kradolfer

Round 3: Nakamura beats Karjakin to take the sole lead

Round 3 again saw three very exciting battles and also demonstrated how deeply those super GMs prepare for their games. After Anand outplayed Aronian yesterday using an old home analysis, this time Nakamura caught Karjakin in a web of variations that he had sewed aforehand and that was difficult for the Russian to break, if not impossible without a computer.
So, today's most exciting game was probably this clash between the American bullet expert and the Ukraine-born Russian. In an English opening, Nakamura invited his opponent's queen to invade his camp on f2, something most amateurs wouldn't even consider. As it later turned out, the first 15 moves had already been played before, but then Karjakin failed to find the correct continuation and soon found himself in a lost ending with an exchange down for insufficient compensation.
In Caruana - Anand, both players followed a game by Chinese grandmaster Wen Yun, who, like Caruana, captured an exchange that his opponent offered on a8, hoping to prove that black's compensation wouldn't be enough. As it soon turned out, Anand had to fight desperately for the draw, and although for some time it appeared he would not succeed, with very resourceful play he lured his Italian opponent in an ending with a rook and pawn fighting two minor pieces. As the Indian managed to blockade all of white's pawns, Caruana couldn't make progress and for some time even had to play very precisely himself to secure the maintain the balance. In the end, he was left with a rook and pawn against bishop and two pawns that was a theoretical draw. The most complicated positional battle was fought between Aronian and Kramnik, where a Catalan was played, an opening not know for its tactical clashes, but for its strategical complexitiy. Although Kramnik can be considered one of the world's leading experts of this variation, Aronian's understanding proved to be in no way inferior and soon the Russian player's position became more and more uncomfortable. Kramnik set up a stubborn defense and managed to exchange a couple of pawns to finally enter an ending with his rook and two pawns fighting a rook, knight and three pawns that he was able to hold.
After this round, Nakamura has taken the sole lead, 1 points ahead of Anand and another ahead of Kramnik with three points. At the bottom of the table, Caruana, Aronian and Karjakin share the last place with 2 points each.

The second day of the “Clash of the legends” match between Wolfgang Uhlmann and Viktor Korchnoi again saw two decided games: In the first encounter, Korchnoi was forced into a difficult defense by Uhlmann’s accurate play, but all of a sudden the German grandmaster miscalculated an exchange sacrificed and was faced by Korchnoi’s heavy pieces invading his camp and thus launching a deadly attack. However, in the second game Uhlmann immediately his revenge, when Korchnoi allowed his bishop to be trapped in the enemy’s camp. Being a piece down in a hopeless position, Korchnoi resigned to make the match 2:2.

ZCC2015 Uhlmann-Kortchnoi byGeorgKradolfer

ZCC2015 3 Aronian byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 3 Caruana byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 3 Nakamura byEteryKublashvili
Photos: Etery Kublashvili und Georg Kradolfer

Round 2: Anand outprepares Aronian to join Nakamura in the lead

Today's round saw Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand scoring a convincing win over the Armenian player Levon Aronian to become equal first together with the American Hikaru Nakamura. In a Grunfeld Defense, Anand played a new move including a piece sacrifice that, according to him, he prepared long time ago with an old version of the computer engine "Fritz". The Armenian was familiar with the variation, but a few moves later forgot parts of his own preparation and made an inaccuracy, after which Anand took over the initiative and left Aronian defenseless against the numerous threats.

Kramnik vs Nakamura started as a difficult positonal battle with Kramnik seemingly putting the American into a long and tough defense, but Nakamura found an imaginative queen sacrifice, after which he established a fortress with two rooks and a strong bishop preventing all white's tries to penetrate his position. Kramnik saw no better way than to enter an equal rook endgame that was drawn soon afterwards.

The last game of the day was Karjakin - Caruana, where the Italian grandmaster tried to come back into the tournament after his painful loss to Nakamura yesterday. It first appeared that he had good chances to succeed, when he forced his opponent into an ending with a strong knight and queen being a constant threat to the Russian king, but Karjakin set up a stubborn defense and after they both reached the time control, a draw was agreed.

On the first day of the Veteran Match Viktor Kortchnoi vs. Wolfgang Uhlmann both players scored a win with the white pieces. Tomorrow, the match continous with round 3 and 4.

ZCC2015 Kortchnoi byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 Round2 Anand byEteryKublashvili

ZCC2015 Uhlmann-Kortchnoi byEteryKublashvili
Photos: Etery Kublashvili und Georg Kradolfer.

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