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Nak 'n' Roll in Barcelona

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Hikaru Nakamura has been a bit overlooked in the last year or so. Kamsky charged into the candidates matches and has maintained an elite rating despite (because?) doing criminally ugly things with the Slav. Onischuk has been accumulating high-class invitations and rating points. In May Nakamura surprisingly failed to finish in the top group at the US championship and so missed out on the World Cup, the first step in FIDE's world championship cycle. But so far this week he's reminding people that he's still a world-class talent and still just 19 years old. He just added to his lead at the Casino de Barcelona tournament by beating last year's winner Lenier Dominguez to move his score up to an amazing 5/6 with a 2900+ performance rating. Cuba's Dominguez is in =2-4 with Beliavsky and Gashimov. Nakamura faces three of the lowest-rated players in the field in the final three rounds, so barring an epic collapse this will be a tremendous result.

The reports on the official site are in Catalan, which is mostly comprehensible if you have a romance language handy. Apparently Nakamura used less than an hour on his clock to win the game against top seed Dominguez, who until today was his closest pursuer. First prize is 1500 euros, which by the end of the event should be around twenty thousand dollars. Plus, you get to be in beautiful Barcelona.


1500 euros is about 2000$

Your humble proofreader
Klas Recke


I'm afraid I'll have to agree with Mig on the $20,000!


Mig, thanks. More about the US chess please. Who else would attract our attention that Nakamura misses world cup, which is pity indeed. (Well maybe the US federation site has such news). I just checked who received "wild cards" for the world cup. It speaks for itself. Nothing wrong with Rublevsky, Bareev, Alekseev. But one would prefer to see a more global choice.

"Updated List of Qualifiers for the World Cup 2007" is published at:


i) 5 nominees of the FIDE President:

120. S. Rublevsky (RUS)
121. E. Bareev (RUS)
122. S. Zhigalko (BLR)
123. Z. Rahman (BAN)
124. B. Savchenko (RUS)

j) 4 nominees of the local Organising Committee:

125. E. Alekseev (RUS) 2716
126. N. Kabanov (RUS) 2512
127. A. Pridorozhni (RUS) 2506
128. V. Genba (RUS) 2413

The usuall horribleness from our fearless leader Kirsan and his cronies. 7 out of 9 russians nominated into the World Cup.

What a surprise.

I'm sure *some* of them deserve it, but that is a high percentage no matter how you slice that Soviet Bread...

From this same tournament, take a look at the wacky opening here [i.e., Black's 5th move is NOT a typo!]; what the heck do you call it? (I know: stupid) Anyone ever see it before? And Black won!

[Event "Casino"]

[Site "Barcelona ESP"]

[Date "2007.10.22"]

[Round "5"]

[White "Oms Pallise,J"]

[Black "Gashimov,V"]

[Result "0-1"]

[WhiteElo "2506"]

[BlackElo "2664"]

[EventDate "2007.10.18"]

[ECO "A60"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 Bd6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. e4 Re8 8.

Bd3 Bc7 9. O-O d6 10. h3 Nbd7 11. Re1 a6 12. a4 Nf8 13. Bf4 Ng6 14. Bh2 Rb8

15. Bf1 Nd7 16. Qd2 h6 17. Rad1 Qf6 18. Qc1 Ba5 19. Nd2 Nde5 20. Nb3 Bb6

21. Qe3 Qd8 22. Kh1 c4 23. Nd4 Qf6 24. Qd2 Bd7 25. f3 Bc5 26. a5 Bb4 27. f4

Nd3 28. Bxd3 Qxd4 29. Bc2 Qxd2 30. Rxd2 Bxa5 31. e5 Nf8 32. Rde2 Bb4 33.

Ra1 Rbd8 34. Bg3 Ra8 35. Be1 a5 36. Kh2 b5 37. Ne4 dxe5 38. Bxb4 axb4 39.

Rxa8 Rxa8 40. fxe5 b3 41. Bb1 Bf5 42. Nd2 Bxb1 43. Nxb1 Ra1 44. Nd2 Ra2 45.

e6 fxe6 46. dxe6 Nxe6 47. Rxe6 Rxb2 48. Nf3 Rf2 49. Rb6 Rxf3 50. gxf3 b2

51. Rxb5 c3 52. Kg2 Kf7 53. Rb6 h5 54. h4 c2 55. Rxb2 c1=Q 56. Re2 g5 57.

hxg5 Qxg5+ 58. Kh3 Qf4 59. Rg2 Kf6 60. Rg3 Qc1 61. Kg2 Kf5 62. Rh3 Qg5+ 63.

Rg3 Qd2+ 64. Kh3 Qe1 65. Kg2 Kf4 66. Rh3 Qe2+ 67. Kg1 Qe1+ 68. Kg2 h4 69.

Kh2 Qf2+ 70. Kh1 Kf5 71. f4 Kg4 0-1

It's called "Snake Benoni". The idea is to develop dark-squared Bishop to an active position (on a5 in this case) without having to play g6. The snake name comes from Bf8-d6-c7-a5 maneuver. The purpose of this (keeping pawn on g6) might seem trivial, but the Black pieces in "regular" Benoni are usually crumped, especially the Queens Knight when it stays on d7 and blocks c8-Bishop. Often, Black would sac a pawn with c5-c4, to get c5 square for this Knight. Now in Snake Benoni, g6 is available for the Queens Knight (the route is Nb8-d7-e5-g6) and d7 square is, in turn, available for the light squared Bishop.

Several grandmasters have played it before. But hey, they must be stupid!

Definitely a Snake Benoni, but generally when people played the Snake they wanted to go Ne7-Ng6, no?

Either way, Qxf2+!! is one of the best combinations I've ever seen.

Never saw this before. Looks terrible, but may have surprise value...might even be playable (though still certainly inferior to normal ...g6 lines), IF there's no practical way for White to achieve an early Nc4 and/or f2-f4. That would be the logical plan to try to refute Black's idea. Unsure how to best develop other White pieces to support that set-up (in particular, the QB). The QN should aim to go to c4.

I remember Michael Wilder playing a Bd6-c7 Benoni long ago, around the time he won the US Championship. So there was a little bit of a buzz surrounding that opening back then.

Naka is phenomenal. HE would play such a Benoni at the drop of a hat! He seems to play anything and everything.

Naka is fearless. I can't imagine he is scared of any player in the world. Can't wait until he starts facing the elite. He might go through a period where he gets beat up a little (it seems Carlsen did), but that's just the price for joining "the club."

Just want to add: I really love a classical style, like Kramnik's, while Naka is much more unconventional. But when all is said and done, Naka puts his pieces on good squares and likes to play endgames, too!

And just when you thought Naka had learned his lesson...

You just can't do this. When will he learn? Will he ever?

How many more deja-vus?

If he has any serious ambitions to be a world class chess player (top 10, wch candidate), he needs to put in serious hours into opening study.

Today against the last seeded Josep Oms (ESP, 2506) Nakamura played with black into a known theoretical minefield of the 9.Nd2 King's Indian. He followed Belyavksy-Radjabov from 2003 for 17 moves before varying with the "novelty" 18...Nh5. I say "novelty" because this move and the plan that follows Ng8+Bf6+Bh4 just simply loses the game. Even Crafty could tell you this. When Naka (playing black) had achieved his goal Shredder gives white +3 pawns. And now he is a full rook down.

It's ridiculous. You can't go into these lines unprepared thinking you can solve the problems on the board. Is there any other 2650 player who consistently manages this?

Deserved loss to him, and a lesson he probably will not learn from as this has happened so many times before. Or alternatively he has no ambitions to become a world class player, and will pursuit another career (upto him obviously) and then the US chess fans and other fans of Mr. Nakamura's talent just have to accept this is how it will always be.

But for a chess observer it is frustrating in a way, because he is so talented, and could do so much better.

I know it was featured in a previous blog, but if anyone missed it .... check out Krasenkow-Nakamura from round 2. Its absolutely amazing. I think he had to saw at least it was a very promising Q sack right when he played 18...Qb6, and that is, simply, mind boggling.

I strongly disagree. I applaud to GM Nakamura for his boldness, even if it is mixed with stubborness. He will win the event, gain rating points, and hopefully gets more invitations. With him, Kamsky, and Onishchuk the Americans would do well at the next Olympiad!
Alex Sergeev

Quote: "Definitely a Snake Benoni, but generally when people played the Snake they wanted to go Ne7-Ng6, no?"

Well, no, but this brings up a point I didn't mention that Black's attack on e4 pawn has a lot more bite in Snake Benoni, since the Knight on f6 does not block the dark-squared Bishop. In snake, the Bishop is on a5, ready to snap on c3, removing a defender of the e4 pawn.

I had a typo in my prevous post: "The purpose of this (keeping the pawn on g6)"[...] should read "The purpose of this (keeping the pawn on g7)"

I am not in any way trying to claim that Hikaru won the game because of the opening he played and not because of his genius. I twice played Benoni with Black against him in tournament games and got crushed both times. In the first game, he hardly took any time, and in the second game he apparently played blindfold (he was looking strictly in the ceiling). I just wanted to point out that while off-beat, it is a well thought-out opening scheme. I wouldn't say the same about 1. e4 c5 2. Qh5.

This may be a standard way to write things, but I find the notation "Dominguez is in =2-4" awkward since it is so close to another notation (if I wanted to indicate no wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses, I would write +0=2-4 or maybe even just =2-4).

Michael: You have been most informative about the "Snake." However, it wasn't Nakamura who played it at Barcelona; it was Gashimov.

Whoops! Well then I take it all back and agree that this opening is no good. Go Nakamura!

In a blindfold game, are the players allowed to record and look at a record of the moves? So say, if a player loses track are they allowed to read through the previous moves to try to recreate the position in their head?

No, not that I know of, certainly not in "official" blindfold games like those at Melody Amber, for instance.

In his book (of posthumously collected articles) "It's only me", GM Tony Miles expounded on his experience with blindfold simuls. He and Koltanowski discussed the topic, and (iirc) agreed that, given access to game scores, they could "easily" have played 100 opponents at once. ;)

Naka run out of luck eventually, however his chances for winning the tournament are still very good.

Nakamura is an original like Morozevich and Shirov. I'm not sure if he can become a member of "The Club" without sacrificing (no pun intended) much of that originality. Yes, Moro and Shirov have done it but their foundation was built upon the old soviet methods and still their results are inconsistent and always will be. In this day and age that type of style of play comes with a price. Nakamura will always be a strong grandmaster, but I hope he doesn't change his method of play just to become more consistent with a "goal" of reaching the top ten. Viva la difference.

Nakamura plays uncompromising chess. That much is known. Sometimes he'll create absolute beauties, but sometimes it means laying an egg against ~2500 players such as Oms today or previously against Kraai, Simutowe, Friedel, etc.

well now, Naka played the classic King Indian "creatively" (i.e. dubiously) : helping moves as 9..a5, 14..c6 ? and a weak plan Ng8-Bf6-Bh4 ?).
Which is to say that if you don't play the standard attack after you committ yourself with the "f4"-blocking(i.e., g5,Rf7,Bf8,Ng6) you simply don't get enough strenght for threatening a decisive K-side attack (and thus you can't counterbalance the totally weak Q-side).
Nice try though.

Geeker, it was Najdorf, not Kolty, and Miles said Najdorf could do a hundred, not that he could. But yes.

According to Miles the legitimate (ie no scoresheets, no suspiciously short games) record is Kolty's 34.

I am quite sure someone like Kramnik or Shirov could do 100 with no scoresheets quite easily, probably even without specific training, and still play at a pretty high standard.

Nakamura will never be an elite GM for the simple reason that as far as I can see he doesn't want to be.

I would love to see Naka, Moro and Shirov playing in the same round robin tournament. Together with Anand, Topalov, Kramnik, Radjabov, Carlsen, Ivanchuk and Aronian. What an excitement tournament this would be! Who do you guys think would win?!

I applaud GM Nakamura for having the balls to play what he wants. I hope he never changes.

I'll take Nakamura or Morozevich any day of the week over lifeless chess accountants Peter Svidler & Peter Leko...

For some reason people enjoy seeing the bad chess that Morozevich or Nakamura play rather than the accurate fighting chess that Leko plays. The saddest part about chess, is the fans and how stupid they are.

I'm not necessarily endorsing parsnips' above comment when I say this, but it did remind me of a statement of Kramnik's I stumbled onto yesterday from another blog. I think I saw it within a very lengthy interview by Barsky, detailing Kramnik's thoughts about each one of his own "great predecessors", published on the e3e5 site (dated 2004, I think).

Near the end, Kramnik said something like, "The fans like to see mistakes, they want ups and downs," rather than the precise play of a Smyslov or a Karpov. The tone of his words was disapproving (though of course I don't know how the original Russian read), albeit less so than parsnips above.

"For some reason people enjoy seeing the bad chess that Morozevich or Nakamura play rather than the accurate fighting chess that Leko plays. The saddest part about chess, is the fans and how stupid they are."

I disagree with your premise that Naka and Moro play "bad chess". How can you say that when they're all strong GMs, especially when Moro has the exact same rating as Leko?

Nakamura, Morozevich, and Shirov play human chess. Not bad for humans.

When it comes to grandmasters styles of play and what fans prefer to see or not see, parsnips comment doesn't amount to squat.

"For some reason people enjoy seeing the bad chess that Morozevich or Nakamura play rather than the accurate fighting chess that Leko plays. The saddest part about chess, is the fans and how stupid they are."

According to Chessgames.com database:

Leko's "accurate figthing chess" results in him winning 22% of his games

Moro's "bad chess" results in him winning 34% of his games.

I know this database is not a complete list, but it is probably representative. If anyone has more accurate stats I would be interested.

Since they both have the same Elo rating; I would say a better way to put fans of Moro enjoy his "volatile" style of play, fans of Leko enjoy his "conservative" style of play.

It is hard to say convincingly that one style is more effective than the other when they both have the same Elo. You can however say that Moro has more of a "winning style" than Leko ;)


No, I looked up the passage and it *was* Koltanowski. Here's an exact quote from Miles's book:
"Three years later, I talked to probably the most famous exponent of blindfold play, George Koltanowski. His record is 34 and this, I believe is legitimate. Najdorf's 45, he told me, was with access to the score-sheets ("I could do a hundred like that" he said, and I think I believe him), and Flesch's 52 was performed in about five hours and included many short games. Perhaps I do him an injustice and it was genuine - are there any witnesses around? If so I would regard it as superhuman." [Miles's 22-board blindfold simul took about 11-1/2 hours]

Parsnips wrote:

"For some reason people enjoy seeing the bad chess that Morozevich or Nakamura play rather than the accurate fighting chess that Leko plays. The saddest part about chess, is the fans and how stupid they are."

Not only do us stupid fans enjoy the bad chess that Nakamura and Morozevich play, the two very strong GM's themselves love it too!

I bet Mr. Parsnips sports a hefty rating in the high 1600's, thus his disdain for the low-quality chess played by two of the most exciting GM's on earth...

I hope some stupid organizer decides to invite notoriously bad players Shirov, Nakamura, Morozevich, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Anand, Kramnik to a double round robin orgy of bad moves!

Well once Moro or Naka win Linares, Corus or Dortmund like Leko has (cat 20,20,19 events) then we can talk. Until then, the results speak for themselves.

Not that my two cents are really worth that much, but Nakamura is often associated with really excitin tactical play. Maybe this is just because he is young or maybe because he is indeed a calculating machine, but he wins a ton of games by grinding endgames with a slight edge to the opponents breaking point. I think it was he who played well over 100 moves against Zhu Chen. While he may not have precisely Fischer's technique(does anyone these days?), he has mastered Fischer's ability to fight on for the slightest chance in simplified positions and often pounces when his opponents are lulled into a false sense of security. GO HIKARU!

Nakamura will NEVER be one of the elite chess players. He does not have the discipline to succeed at the top level. PERIOD.

"Well once Moro or Naka win Linares, Corus or Dortmund like Leko has (cat 20,20,19 events) then we can talk. Until then, the results speak for themselves."
Well once Leko trashes Anand in King's Gambit like Morozevich, then we can talk.
Leko is very boring to watch because he is too afraid of losing. Having 2 extra pawns against Kramnik and offering a draw just because the position is complicated is the typical Leko. Fortunately, Caissa punished him for that in 14th game.

Nakamura will never be in the top 10, because he is not good enough. He is already 19 years old and he is still far from 2700.
I would classify him as a possible top 30 player.

Let's face it, sacrificial chess is far more exciting than gaining a theoretical advantage in a rook endgame and winning in 97 moves. "Wild" opening gambits and "bad" moves are exciting precisely because they defeat expectations, and lead to razor-sharp situations on the board. I don't see why the point of chess should be to play perfect games, especially if one approaches it as an art... how much rewarding art is "perfect"? Give me King's gambit, Budapest, and all the rest of it. And 2. Qh5 too. Bob

What is so exciting about the king's gambit and the budapest? You can only win with these openings if the opponent doesn't know the theory, otherwise you have to fight for a draw.
Morozevich once gave a hilarious comment
"1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 (Previously I used to blunder a pawn with f4)"
I rather prefer watching a Be3 Najdorf or a Benoni.
Besides, those discussions about which style is best, is nonsense.
The beauty of chess is that you can reach the top with different kind of playing styles.
Tal and Topalov became world champion with risky, sacrificial chess, Kramnik and Karpov with solid positional chess and Kasparov and Spasski with dynamic chess.

Naka has made it known he doesn't seek the life of an impoverished chess bum. That and his insufficient chess training early in life puts an end to talk of "top 10" or "2700".

His relative lack of polish due to training by a "mere 2300" step-dad -- good enough for an average GM, maybe -- is exposed by Soviet-school 2700s.

SH, the Soviet-school 2700's (Krasenkow and Vaganian with White, Beliavsky with Black) went 0.5/3 against Nakamura.

I don't think he's like Morozevich, who basically annihilates anyone sub-2700 but turns into cannon fodder when a 2700+ shows up, since his style basically has him throwing vicious uppercuts which sometimes hit (Kramnik, Mexico City).

Nakamura is a huge talent, but an enigma. It's not his fault he's not raised on round robins and European team play. It's additionally not his fault that he's actually somewhat interested in a life outside chess.

Sometimes he'll crash and burn reaching for the sun, but somehow as human beings, those types of people are very attractive to us.

"Sometimes he'll crash and burn reaching for the sun"

A theme common in non-Soviet "Western" players: raw talent shoots them into the top 10(Miles, Short, Van Wely, Ulf Anderson), but a certain unsteadiness marrs their performance. As a general rule (with numerous exceptions), they slide rapidly off the top 100 as they lose their youthful tactical prowess; having less of a finesse game to fall back upon, like a Bareev/Karpov/Kortchoi.

I wrote one of the most critical comments of young Nakamura in this thread, but I disagree with those who compare him to Morozevich, or say that he will never be 2700/top 10.

Nakamura's main strenght is brutal, computerish tactical ability. This is not just a calculative strenght, it's also a positional strenght. Positional chess is very much based on different tactical motives.

When Nakamura gets out of the opening alive, he proceeds to literally humiliate these 2600's proving that he has potential for much higher ratings.

If you look back on his disappointing results in the past 2-3 years (since his match against Karjakin, when everyone thought he would soon be 2700+ and when he got praise from Kasparov among others) there are two main reasons for his inconsistent results:

1. Poor opening preparation, playing not just off beat, but simply unplayable variations
2. Arrogance (contributing to 1. and e.g. these silly losses against 2400's) - People say that Kasparov was/is arrogant, but there are different types of arrogance. Kasparov didn't disrespect his opponents on the board, he always played the board. He even famously used a novelty he had prepared for Karpov, to dismantle Tal Shaked, a lesser player no doubt.

If you are good enough to play the proverbial 2.Qh5 and get an ok game against a 2600, how well would you do with a serious opening repertoire?

In this tournament we have seen some signs of that. When he gets an OK'ish game out of the opening, these 2600's will face huge trouble, because as a pure chessplayer Nakamura is superior to them.

But then there was the game against Oms, which proved his achilles heel. He didn't just play a double-edged variation. He played an unprepared variation, following a Radjabov game, seemingly with no home preparation to back his choice of play, varying on the board in a way that leads to a lost position. It summed up the problems he needs to overcome to become a 2750+ player (which he certainly is capable of). Lack of depth in opening preparation, and unhealthy amount of arrogance.

But the talent is obviously there, and real chess fans of course wish him luck. He is the type of character, uncompromising, interesting, that chess needs.

"Nakamura will never be in the top 10, because he is not good enough. He is already 19 years old and he is still far from 2700."

Aronian didn't make it to 2700 until he was 23, and he's a top 10 player.

Just to add to my previous comment: Aronian, at Naka's age, was "only" a high-2500 to low-2600 player.

>Nakamura's main strenght is brutal, computerish tactical ability.>

Granted, he plays a kind of Mike Tyson (or Misha Tal)chess style-- "one shot KO"
Such approach works fine when one is young and thus he is able to throw so much energy and power into attack that he simply overwhelms opposition, any opposition.

He could rent few videos with Cassius Clay's matches to get the insight that there are some other, more "technical", possible strategies to play the game

(all other thing equal) to defend is always easier and requires less energy than to attack

Naka would better start playing as Kramnik or Leko, i.e., waiting for a mistake/opportunity so as to justifiably begin to press/attack

"(all other thing equal) to defend is always easier and requires less energy than to attack"


"Naka would better start playing as Kramnik or Leko, i.e., waiting for a mistake/opportunity so as to justifiably begin to press/attack"


All other things being equal, I find those statements amusing.

Believe that's what Reshevsky did. I was surprised to read recently that Reshevsky in his youth was known primarily as a tactical monster. Even as late as the 1950s or early 60s, he had a reputation for always being in time pressure, which he himself ascribed to often trying to calculate every possible variation. This surprised me because by the time I came around (late 60s), he employed a technical approach; he even had a regular Chess Life column called "The Art of Positional Play."


it's pretty clear that ovidiu has not read anything serious about defending. i'm not sure any strong player would agree that defending is easier than attacking... i got my mind blown trying to really understand the book "the art of defense"--and that's not a lot more than a primer on the subject. it seems to this patzer that when attacking you control your plan and can choose your targets, but when you defend you have to consider strategic as well as tactical plans for all of the attacker's options. i'm with you on this one.

anyone observer who prefers to watch games with kramnik or lekos style is crazy, its absolutely boring and sucks the life out of you. players like topalov,morozevich, shirov, shabalov make the game worth watching

Jon Jacobs :
>Believe that's what Reshevsky did.

Could be, Lasker also had it as "the best position is a slightly worse one".

In fact it is a more general principle which apply to all zero-sum games, inclusive war proper.
You may want to read Clausewitz classic "On war" or re-read Lasker's first chapter "Common sense".

An interesting note for those interested in training : all my generation colleagues who went to become IM and GM gave up to direct attack and switched style around 14-17 years old to began employing the inherent advantages of defense.
It is a kind of marker of maturity in playing the (turning) point when you understand and start using this inherent feature in chess (and any competitive game).
Good ol' times of 'romantic'-morphy chess ended with Steinitz and the emergence of defensive style.

I wish the USCF could pressure FIDE into making Nakamura an alternate so that if someone drops out of the world cup he could get in.

Maybe 'pressure' FIDE is the wrong concept. After all, the USCF is not backed by nuclear weapons. 'Amicable negotiation' would be a good alternative.

"I wish the USCF could pressure FIDE..."

With half the Executive Board one step away form the jailhouse, the USCF can only apply pressure to its own wounds...

hahaha Susan Polgar may face the court herself neartime, as most of the USCF leaders.

It cracks me up that patzers on this blog call 2700 GMs "weak". You know what style all these GMs share? The style to beat you 99 out of 100 games, if you are lucky.


Yes, I was looking at the passage. I took Miles to mean that Najdorf told him (grammatically correct, I think) but looking at it again you could well be right and he meant Kolty. Hard to say which it sounds more like, what with the two of them being possibly the two most boastful showmen in the game's long history!

And Nakamura wins his last game to win first place outright with 7/9.

nh gg vwp hikaru

"When Nakamura gets out of the opening alive, he proceeds to literally humiliate these 2600's proving that he has potential for much higher ratings."

I agree completely- look at the games. He can play with the elite, just needs opening prep and some Soviet Solidity.

The Troll Ovidiu wrote:

"Granted, he plays a kind of Mike Tyson (or Misha Tal)chess style-- "one shot KO"
Such approach works fine when one is young and thus he is able to throw so much energy and power into attack that he simply overwhelms opposition, any opposition"

This is a gross oversimplification (and misunderstanding) of Nakamura's chess. Any player above class A cannot be a "one shot KO" player due to the nature of the game. Of course Nakamura is a very strong grandmaster who is proficient in all facets of game. He is like Aronian (although not as strong- yet) in that he relies on tactical motifs and his enourmous creativity, a lot, but he can also win endgames, positional crushes etc.

And about him losing to 2400's... A great deal of grandmasters would lose to 2400's if they played them often. The only ones where it would be a real suprise are the super solid ones like Leko, Kramnik, Kamsky, etc... but then they would draw a lot of these games! Anand lost to Touzane in 2001. 2700 or even 2800 GMs are not infallible machines. They are simply 300 or 400 points better than 2400's, just like 1900's are with 1600's and 1500's. Upsets will happen.

"They are simply 300 or 400 points better than 2400's, just like 1900's are with 1600's and 1500's."

The assumption here is that the rating scale is more or less linear. My impression is that this is not true. For example, the gap in skill between a 2700 and 2400 player is much larger than the gap between a 1900 and 1600 player. Rating points are much harder to get, the higher ones rating. Is this discussed in more detail anywhere. I would like to read more about it.

In theory the rating scale IS supposed to be entirely linear. The whole fundamental math behind ratings is that a 300-pt difference translates into an identical expected winning percentage, regardless of rating level.

Certainly upsets do happen even at the highest levels; though I've never seen empirical data comparing the frequency of upsets such as 2400 beats 2700 vis-a-vis 1600 beats 1900.

As for contrasting "the gap in skill" between those respective intervals (2700-2400 vs 1900-1600), logically it's hard to see how it could be meaningful for anyone to talk about it except those who are over 2700 themselves. How could players weaker than 2700 apprehend/comprehend the 2700-2400 difference, other than in trivially concrete terms like performance (i.e., ratings)?

The few cogent observations I've seen about what distinguishes different levels of strong players -- say, GM from IM -- have come from GMs themselves. The rest is largely drivel, like most of this thread ("Moro is weak," "Nakamura is weak," etc.)

Nakamura showed tremendous skill in this event. A score of 7/9 is incredible in this field.

I think people underestimate his strengths. Naka crushed Karjakin in their match by playing things that were not theory to get Karjakin out of his preparation and Karjakin had trouble. I am not saying that Karjakin isnt a good player, because he is very strong, but something can be learned from someone who looked at someone's strengths and steered the game away from that person's strengths.

I think if Hikaru continues to play solid and doesnt force the position unnecessarily, you will see more impressive performances by him.

I can't believe all the whining about Hikaru. The queen sac against Krasenkow was incredible. In his game today, Dominguez drew early and Hikaru could have split the point at that point to clinch first, but went for the kill and delivered. OK, his openings aren't very polished, but his games are really fun to watch. He's really a talented guy.

It's very funny how people whine and moan about people not playing exciting chess (Kramnik, Leko and Svidler have been the late victims of this silliness), and when someone comes around who does play exciting chess (introducing a bit of variance into results), people scream when it doesn't result in solid points.

What do you want guys? ========= and 1010=1010 is the same score.


That's a good point. Some people would still kick even if their legs were cut off.

>I think if Hikaru continues to play solid and doesnt force the position unnecessarily, you will see more impressive performances by him>

That's the point. He has to drop this naive, "Mike Tyson", punching style and do the change toward a mature (solid, playing for control) game, if he wants to get higher.

Carlsen and Karjaking have already done it, perhaps because they had better trainers.

I say let Nakamura play however he finds it the most enjoyable. The moment it becomes more of a burden then enjoyable he will likely drop out. I'd rather see him not "fulfill his potential" and continue to play then to push for a higher rating and get burned out. Although winning is the object of the game, getting satisfaction from playing is the reason to ever pick up a piece.

I'm not a Mike Tyson fan at all, but that "naive" style sure in the hell worked for him when he was young and in his prime. Regarding Nakamura, they said the same about Tal, and just think if he had played more solidly when he was young and a real force. I'm with stendec, Fernandez and others when I say let Nakamura "step to the music which he hears however measured or far away." For what it's worth, this comes from someone who considers himself a technical player.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 24, 2007 4:35 AM.

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