SIMPLECHESS

The rise of Hikaru Nakamura

The 'gladiators' at the press conference (official site)
Despite his youthful 23 years, Hikaru Nakamura has established himself in the World's top ten and is still making progress, whatever the rate of play! He was recently successful against Ruslan Ponomariov, World No.11 and losing finalist in the last World Cup, in both classical and rapid matches. The Classical match could have gone either way, but the American was clearly stronger in the rapids.

Ponomariov won a long first game, but Nakamura equalized in another King's Indian in Game 3. A final game win tipped the match in Nakamura's favour, a frustrating result for Ponomariov who had many good positions and should probably have scored higher. 

 

Classical chess match (Saint Louis, USA)
White V. Black Result Moves ECO Opening
Ponomariov, Ruslan - Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0 93 E98 King's Indian Classical
Nakamura, Hikaru - Ponomariov, Ruslan ½-½ 37 C67 Spanish Berlin
Ponomariov, Ruslan - Nakamura, Hikaru 0-1 43 E94 King's Indian Classical
Nakamura, Hikaru - Ponomariov, Ruslan ½-½ 51 D31 Semi-Slav Defence
Ponomariov, Ruslan - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 41 E94 King's Indian Classical
Nakamura, Hikaru - Ponomariov, Ruslan 1-0 44 D31 Semi-Slav Defence

So 3½-2½ was the final score.

 

 

A gain of three rating points may not seem to be a great deal but it could be enough to enable the American to rise two places in the World rankings!

Following on from their classical match the players then switched to rapid play.

It was no surprise to many that the US No.1 Hikaru Nakamura was able to beat Ruslan Ponomariov in their rapid match.

I was present when the American beat Ponomariov in a play-off match in San Sebastian (it was impressive!). The Ukrainian is no less than No.11 in the world but at Rapid and Blitz chess few can compete with 'Naka'.

The first win came in the rare 1.b3 opening that is often named after Bent Larsen and Aaron Nimzowich.

Rapid Match details, game-by-game
White V. Black Result Moves ECO code Opening
Ponomariov, Ruslan - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 93 A88 Leningrad Dutch
Nakamura, Hikaru - Ponomariov, Ruslan 1-0 56 A01 Larsen/ Nimzovich
Ponomariov, Ruslan - Nakamura, Hikaru 0-1 27 D11 Slav Defence
Nakamura, Hikaru - Ponomariov, Ruslan ½-½ 39 E60 King's Indian

 

There was a second match going on at the same time where the youthful Ray Robson took on the experienced Ben Finegold.

A fine +2=4-0 from Ray Robson with a 2600+ performance.

In the rapids, Finegold started strongly but was caught at the end.

Rapid Match Saint Louis (USA), 24th-25th of May 2011
Name Title Country Rating 1 2 3 4 Total Performance
Benjamin Finegold g USA 2494 1 ½ 0 ½ 2 2545
Ray Robson g USA 2545 0 ½ 1 ½ 2 2494

The best source for further details is the official site

http://saintlouischessclub.org/


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