Mig 
Greengard's ChessNinja.com

That Other Tournament

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Hey, remember Karabakh? Of course you do. It's the category 17 with Ivanchuk, Aronian, and Nakamura taking place in Armenia right now. The final round has shaped up to be an exciting one, albeit with some complicating factors. Before the 7th round China's Bu Xiangzhi had to leave the tournament due to his father's health crisis and his last three games are forfeit. I met Bu in NY in 2000 and wish him and his family well.

This gives free points to Nakamura, Bologan, and Sokolov. The latter two are already out of the running, but the US champion won his next game against Alexei Dreev to move within a half point of the leader, Aronian. (Top seed Ivanchuk has been stuck in first gear and is on -1.) Today's final round sees Aronian-Nakamura, so a win with black would make our own Black Belt newsletter contributor the winner of the tournament, an equal first if Anastasian also wins. Beating an in-form 2700 with black isn't exactly a walk in the park, but it's been an excellent international result for Hikaru no matter what happens in the final round. A 2700+ result against this powerful veteran field shows that the next level is already here.

38 Comments

Best wishes to Bu and his family.

Go Hikaru! Yes, there is no doubt that he is one of the very best chessplayers in the world at this point. With a little more devotion, he could probably be number one.

"taking place in Armenia right now". Nope, it's in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, but under Armenian control and unilaterally declared an independent republic without international recognition. I don't know if these things seem petty, but they shouldn't. Anyway, yes, great result by Naka. No 2.Qh5 nonsense in this tournament, sound openings. Quick draw in the final round against Aronian. Meanwhile, inconsistent Ivanchuk must have lost everything he gained in the ECC.

I'm a big Nakamura fan, but still skeptical whether he can make it to the top with his Qh5 -attitude!

In my humble opinion, I find it great that he plays Qh5 lines, and crazy stuff like that. First of all, he is very young, and maybe he learns more from playing in this style than playing only main theoretical lines. And then... well, in this computer era, there has been a tendency to get rid of almost all classical conventions. Nigel Short wrote the other day after a g4 move leaving black's king quite undercovered,"In the computer era nobody gives a flying fig about general principles. Precise evaluations are all that count." Maybe Nakamura has the right attitude...maybe Qh5 didnt get him anything, but maybe the philidor has more winning chances than the sicilian if seen with a young brilliant mind like his :)

Aronian-Nakamura was a 16-move draw.

[Event "Karabakh 2005"]
[Site "Stepanakert, ARM"]
[Date "2005.10.11"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Aronian L (ARM)"]
[Black "Nakamura H (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Board "2"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2724"]
[BlackElo "2662"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 c6 8. Bc3
d5 9. Ne5 Nfd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. Nd2 O-O 12. O-O Rc8 13. e4 b5 14. Re1 dxe4 15.
Nxe4 bxc4 16. Bf1 Nb6 1/2-1/2

Next step? I dont know. The performance rating may suggest that, but if you look at it a little bit closer: one point for not playing Bu (not Nakas fault but reality), two points from the tailenders Dreev and Bologan. Right, two big names but look at their performance (-ratings).... Bologans would even be worse if you take his point against Bu into account.
I would say Nakas performance was peu prs his normal level.

P.S: I don't understand why he didn't fight in his last game. The tournament win was still possible.

So, this 17-year-old finishes a major international tournament ahead of Ivanchuk and Dreev, and 1/2-point behind another 2700+ superstar, and we go, "meh, nothing to see here"... truly, we have become spoiled with success. (BTW, Nakamura's performance in Karabakh was 2712)

I don't know if the air was bad but three of the favorites played like total trash....

Best wishes for him and his family.

sanferrera, you could very well be right. More than one person has pointed to Nakamura as a premier representative of a "new breed" of chessplaying that arose out of online computer play.

Yes, I agree that Nakamura's result represents a good accomplishment. It is a real pity that he didn't have the chance to play against Mr. 152 move (Bu). That might have been a battle to the bitter end, given Nakamura's fighting spirit...

Overall, I'm not sure how much significance we should assign to the result. Yes, he had a performance rating of over 2700. Yes, he beat Dreev and Bologan. Frankly, I'm more impressed with his easy draw vs. Ivanchuk, even if Chukky never seemed to recover from his demoralization stemming from his silly first round loss to Bu.

However, Dreev seemed to overpress in their game, and that was a major factor in his loss. Bologan just got outplayed, as one might expect from that strange sequence of Rook maeuvers that led to Black having his Rooks out of play on the a file.

Nothing from this event to convince that Nakamura is due to crack the 2700 rating barrier, or reach the Top 10 ranking.

Lets get real: The boy (Naka)receive a free bonus point of Bu, and was beneficiated also by subperformances from Dreev and Ivanchuk. Hes not ready for 2700 level yet. Maybe in a couple of years he could.
The same people that say Moro didn`t belong to San Luis (before his wins)is saying that Naka is the next real thing. I was really impresed by Aronian level.

WW2,

But everything in chess is relative. Poor performances are part of chess, but the opposing player perhaps has a part in the poor performance. Nobody gave Nakamura a free point apart from Bu Xiangzhi.

"However, Dreev seemed to overpress in their game, and that was a major factor in his loss. "Bologan just got outplayed, as one might expect from that strange sequence of Rook maeuvers that led to Black having his Rooks out of play on the a file."

Excuse me, is that supposed to undermine his performance? Thats how you win games at chess you know, you overplay the opponent and sometimes your opponent thinks he has winning chances when they're actually losing.

"Nothing from this event to convince that Nakamura is due to crack the 2700 rating barrier, or reach the Top 10 ranking."

Yeah, nothing expect his 2700+ perfomance rating and a finish second in a tournament with Aronina, Ivanchuk, Dreev, Bologan, Sokolov and Xiangzhi.

Everything in chess is relative!?
Checkmate is absolute!

I suspect some of you won't believe Nakamura is possible 2700 material until his rating hits 2698. Maybe even if he cracks 2700 people will be saying "yeah but 2700 isn't particularly good anymore" or "people just lose to him even though they are better than him" or "you aren't really 2700 material until you stay there for 5 years".

Seriously, this is a fabulous result for Nakamura. Even if you discount all of Bu's games/forfeits, Nakamura would still be tied for 2nd against a very strong field (average rating of his opponents was 2672 and Nakamura as the 6th seed).

Don't forget that he beat Dreev in a line where Dreev is considered a foremost expert

Nakamura is just not stable enough. In Lauzanne, he was conveniently whitewashed 2-0 by Volokitin, and needed rapid playoff to defeat Mamedjarov. In Karabakh, he had a pretty good result, regaining the lost points.

Overall, the "next level" is quite achievable (he's talented, and only 2-3 good tournaments away from 2700), but, I'm afraid, not "already here".

Excuse me, is that supposed to undermine his performance? Thats how you win games at chess you know, you overplay the opponent and sometimes your opponent thinks he has winning chances when they're actually losing.

Yeah, nothing expect his 2700+ perfomance rating and a finish second in a tournament with Aronina, Ivanchuk, Dreev, Bologan, Sokolov and Xiangzhi.
============================

Look, it doesn't matter to me one way or another, whether Nakamura demonstrates 2700 strength by achieving a 2700 rating. Certainly, the 30 or so points that he needs to gain, will be quite challenging to earn. Don't forget that there is no shortage of hungry, up and coming teenage Grandmasters, all with their Top 100 Rankings and their 2600+ ratings. While Nakamura's strength has yet to peak, that can be said about dozens of potential rivals, as well.
Bottom line: I am unable to discern anything in Nakamura's play or results that would indicate that he is a better bet than the others to rise to the top. According to FIDE, the average rating of the Top 20 Juniors is now 2637. A year ago, it was 2613. Yes, Hikaru's rating is rising, but then, so is the rating of the other Top 20 Juniors. If indeed there is no objective reason to conclude that Nakamura is destined to reach the next plateau, or do an "Aronian", then it is pretty much a crap shoot as to which Junior joins the 2700 Club. And that means that the odds are against Nakamura.

To put things in context, consider the results of Naiditsch, who won Dortmund this year . This is a more impressive achievement than Nakamura's Karabakh result [He beat Leko, and drew Adams, Svidler, and Kramnik]. Naiditsch's rating is 2641, even after reaping a gain of a couple of dozen points. Is Naiditsch a one shot wonder? If so, then one is hardly justified in reading great significance into Nakamura's Karabakh result.
Alternatively, maybe Naiditsch is the next big thing, and has had a quantum leap in strength. In that case, Nakamura would do well to keep an eye out on who is behind him on the rating list, since somebody is liable to be gaining on him!

Anyone remember Kamsky's first year at Linares? He got killed. Getting one's head beaten in by today's 2700's is part of the initiation process.

While Nakamura isn't developing quite as quickly as Kamsky did, he's already demonstating the potential to contend for the highest title.

When it comes to chess as a game, Naiditsch is one of my favourites. His games are very beautiful. Volokitin has a very elegant style too. It would make a nice chesshamburger to but together Volokitin and Naiditsch and one Nakamura in between.

I enjoy Nakamura's play, and I think he has good chances of making it big, but it's obvious even to me, an American, that much of the hype/excitement surrounding Nakamura have to do with his nationality.

"...it's obvious even to me, an American, that much of the hype/excitement surrounding Nakamura have to do with his nationality."

Well, yes, exactly. Find me a sports fan who doesn't cheer for players from his/her home country.

Peace...

Well, some of the arguments here just make no sense. What is the point in comparing Hikaru to his contemporaries with regard to rating while trying to determine if he will make 2700? What is this, some secret society which only admits one member every five years or so? Hikaru hitting 2700 has absolutely nothing to do with what the others around him are doing. If he gets to 2701 and looks up to see someone else at 2710, how does this take away from his accomplishment? Ratings are an individual measure, and it s therefore appropriate only to compare him to himself, discerning how his performances and learning curve make it either likely or not for him to reach this new level. To shrug it off by saying that he is still not separating himself from his contemporaries is to forward trivial information with regard to this discussion.

BTW, yes, he went to tiebreak to beat Mamedyarov, but the point is that a) He split the classical match, one victory apiece (meaning that he can beat the man, not simply hold him to a draw), and b) He won the overall match by outplaying Shakriyar in rapid time controls, arguably establishing superiority at least at that control. Mamedyarov is both higher-rated and more experienced than Hikaru, so I don't get the argument here. Sorry, I don't see how beating a 2675-rated player "only" once in two classical games is evidence of lack of ability.

Hotep,

Maliq

As I read through all of these posts, I cannot help but wonder what kind of discussion would have ensued on boards like this had this technology existed as Fischer developed as a player. I can imagine the heated debates over his abilities and progress and whether or not he was worthy of the success he had. Those arguments probably occurred at the time, but in a much more isolated context. The internet has brought such immediacy and proximity to us.

I must admit that I have had doubts about Naka's ability to reach the elite, but there is one uncontestable conclusion to be drawn from this tournament: Nakamura can play with the 2700s. I do not think that this was clear in the past. Note though that the time control was a fairly rapid one. Whether he can play with them in a classical time control is not yet proven.

doug: the progress of the other juniors and how they may fair is absolutely irrelevant.. I don't see the link.
By the way I don't care how far Naiditsch will go, to me he will always be the lamer who cheated at the ACP tour.

Mig, you taking too much time off this Blog! lol

"Well, yes, exactly. Find me a sports fan who doesn't cheer for players from his/her home country."

Cheering someone is different from objectively assessing that player's strength and improvement. Since some of the discussion here pretends, at least, to be about the latter, the former is not necessarily relevant.

Reading Naka's interview at the tournament's website, it seems like he's going to be spending more time soon on his academics in college than his chess. Does that mean he's going to join the long line of American GMs that retire near or at their prime?

doug: the progress of the other juniors and how they may fair is absolutely irrelevant.. I don't see the link.
By the way I don't care how far Naiditsch will go, to me he will always be the lamer who cheated at the ACP tour. bmajors

==========================================

Irrelevant? At this level, the fortunes of the Top players, even amongst those who are "merely" part of the Top 100, are very much inter-related.
Clearly, if 2 or 3 of Nakamura's Junior rivals end up increasing their rating to a higher level than Nakamura, it will have a clearly adverse impact on his chances to crack the Top 10 ranking. Moreover, the closer that Nakamura comes to reaching 2700 Club, the more he will encounter players such as Radjabov and Karjakin. The ratings system is pretty much a zero sum game, and if a select group of Juniors continues to gain, it is liable to be in some significant part, at the expense of other Juniors.

Naka will soon encounter invitations to 2 separate kinds of events. First, he may be invited to Category XVIII and XIX events, in which he is the token Junior to add diversity to a field replete with 2700s. However, he will be competing **against** the likes of Kajakina, Radjabov, and probably Magnus Carlsen for those invitations. Second, he will be invited to All-Star Junior events, like at Biel. However, these wil be likely to be in Round Robin format, and include the most formidable and experienced of his Junior rivals.

You stop being a token anything when you turn 18 and/or near 2700, as Radjabov has done. Other than special events like Lausanne, few of Hikaru's games are going to be against his age peers. There is already a new set of super-kids coming up; 18 is old for special invitations. It's also far from zero sum. We can expect to see Karjakin and Hikaru joining Radjabov in the 2700 club in the next few years, although note how long it took Radjabov to go from 2650 to 2700, around two years. Top 10 is a far different thing than top 20 or 25 and will likely take 3-4 years, assuming it happens at all for any of them. The competition is simply brutal, especially since Hikaru is going to study, unlike most of his peers.

The problem for Hikaru is that he is disadvantaged by his status as a Non-European player. Both Radjabov and Karjakin were are to use the European Championships as a springboard to demonstrate new strength. It is likely that players such as those will be preferred,, when it comes to receiving the invites.

Mig reinforces my point, actually: once these players graduate from Junior status, then they become just another Top 100 player, judged on their rating, and their most recent results. FIDE Juniors are on the list until they turn Age 21, but I suppose that it is possible that organizers may prefer to invite those Juniors who are 18 and Under, if only because of the PR angles.

If Nakamura is not invitated to elite events, where he can win rating points simply by breaking even, and achieving draws, then he will have to make due with competing in events where he is among the higher seeds, and where the field is generally content to draw with him. The question is whether he is capable of achieving the big scores necessary to improve his rating.
He's about at the stage of his career where he is due for a plateuing. Whether he is able to squeeze another year or two of tangible improvement in results is another question altogether. As a shot in the dark, my guess is that he has a one in three chance of reaching the 2700 rating, and the odds are not that great for him being able to maintain such a rating for more than a couple of ratings lists.

ARGUE

does everyone here really love to argue. What is the sense to this senseless argument.

Please join me in waiting for Naka's next tournament. There is nothing you or I can do to change his performance. All we can do is observe his performance.

the only important thing is what is his present rating right now. The future will arrive when it becomes the present.

Tommy

Why isn't Nakamura included in the US squad for the World Team Championship in Israel? I see only Goldin, Onischuk, Gulko, Kaidanov, Novikov and Ibragimov. To make it to the US team is it obligatory to be a former Soviet citizen?

" Mig reinforces my point,"
Doesn't seem like you have one.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 11, 2005 2:10 AM.

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