Greengard's ChessNinja.com

San Sebastián 09: Nakamura Champion!

| Permalink | 84 comments

[US champ Hikaru Nakamura drew with black against Kasimjanov while Ponomariov beat Vallejo to tie for first on +4, 6.5/9. In a blitz playoff for the title, Nakamura beat Ponomariov 2-0. Woo! Congrats to both for tremendous results.] (Photo from David Llada's Donostia Flickr set.)

This is it! Final round: Kasimjanov-Nakamura, Ponomariov-Vallejo, Granda-Svidler, San Segundo-Karpov, Movsesian-Vachier-Lagrave. The round begins an hour earlier than usual, so 1600 CET, 10:00am Eastern. Live here. If Kasimjanov doesn't get anything with white I doubt either of them will tempt fate. Ponomariov will probably push till the clock falls apart if he gets any edge. Blitz playoff if they tie for first. It's technically possible to have a three-way tie and a mini blitz tournament, but unlikely. (Nakamura loses, Ponomariov draws, Svidler wins. Or Nakamura loses, Vallejo wins, Svidler wins.) Call'em like you see'em.

In the Kutxa 'B Group' tournament, van Wely's smooth cruise to victory was sunk by a wild loss to Hamdouchi in the 7th round. The Dutchman now trails Magem Badals by a half-point. Flear and Prie are tied for first in the Euskal Xake Eskola Tournament, Flear with good chances since he's paired with the low-rated tail-ender. Sophie Milliet of France beat her co-leader Melnikova to take over clear first by a point in the Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa Tournament.

Update: Looks like we're headed for a blitz playoff. Nakamura handled his business and held Kasimjanov to a quick draw. But Vallejo is defending rather horribly an exchange down after a direct attack by Ponomariov netted him a big plus. (And he could have won instantly with 26.exd6! winning the black queen.) -- Yep, there it is, 1-0. Now it's two 5-minute blitz games for the title with a 5'-4' armageddon game if needed. Though the real tournament is over with impressive +4 scores for both Nakamura and Ponomariov. Great job by both. The arrival of a new star -- Nakamura now joins the top 20 -- and the return of an old one?

High-pressure blitz is a crapshoot of course and the conventional wisdom is that the player who came from behind has some sort of psychological advantage. We'll see, but these shootouts are usually such a mess I find it hard to show much interest. I suppose they are necessary to a point, and better than system tiebreaks. But I'm of the standard opinion that in these situations the players tied for first and so-and-so got the title on tiebreaks. Don't know how much of a break they'll give the players. Blitz relays are notoriously tricky.

If you couldn't guess, all the other games were drawn without much work.

Update: Nakamura wins first tiebreak game with white. (33.Qxe5!! is an instant immortal. Ow.) After the usual blitz relay mess it appears he has also won game two! (No score yet.) And they said all those years smashing people on the ICC were a waste of time! US champ Hikaru Nakamura is the San Sebastian champion and winner of the txapela!

The score of the second blitz game will likely remain unknown/incomplete until they go over the video David Llada made of it. The first one was sure a crusher. Not sure if they split the first two prizes as is usual or if Nakamura gets the full 9,000 euros ($12,700). Second is 6,000. [Now confirmed that Nakamura gets the full 9,000.]


As organizer of the tmt in Donostia (that's how we call San Sebastian in our Basque language), I'd like to apologize for not including the Sofia rule, even if we had not too many short draws here.

I guess this is the price we have to pay in order to learn from experience. Please understand this is our first big event. By the way, if we continue next year, the tournament would be by knockout system (2 games, then blitz tie break if needed), which I think decreases the risk of having short draws anyway.

I also want to thank Mig by his excellent coverage of our tournament in this prestigious chess blog.

Hope the final round is as interesting as it is supossed to be.

Naka's gonna beat Kasim and put the naysaying to rest.


Do mini-matches save the tournament money?

How is Naka doing so far???

roughly equal. tense. one bad move can cause positions to fall apart, but more likely to trade down to a draw.

Does Pono have anything?

Felix, Donostia was a great event. Kudos for bringing together such a high-powered and interesting lineup.

On the other hand, GM Izeta, both the main and the minor events in San Sebastian have been extremely interesting, and you seem to have chosen the right players - the younger ones as well as the more experienced ones - to guarantee a balanced and exciting playing field. So congratulations for your good work! (and of course to Mig for his reports as well).
Personally, I would prefer if next year you stuck to the traditional formula without introducing needless innovations such as the knockout system, and I think many other chess fans hold the same opinion.

Fide does knockouts. Should be an indication that it is not a good idea...

After Naka's last move, move 19, white seems to have a perpetual if he wants to go there.

Naka's gonna avoid the repetition with Qh5 and teach Kasim a thing or two about chess.

Cool, Felix Izeta is visiting the Dirt. That's the guy who won the famous 1997 San Sebastian tournament, the one I was taking part in.
Nice to meet you, and appreciations for a job well done! (in 1997 and in 2009)

Ponamriov seems to have something going on, so that may be necessary...

No, it turned into another draw - 22 moves, but legal according to the Sofia rules. Only Ponomariov still playing in the top group ... .

At any rate, awesome tourney, Hikaru! Really impressive. Can't wait to see you in the top 10.

Is there a playoff if Pono wins?

Well done, Hikaru. A 2850 or so performance, going +4 undefeated in a Category 18 event.

Let's see what the player haters have to say about this.

Did anyone (ever) say that women have more fighting spirit than men? One game still ongoing, the others drawn in 6, 8, 8 and 14 moves.

Valejo played in the last round like Bolivia against Argentina in 1978 World Soccer Cup.


( In those days Argentina needs a massive victory in order to reach the great final, and Bolivia let them pass like a third division team).

Looks like we will get a playoff. Ponomriov's edge looks tangible after move 34.

"Valejo played in the last round like Bolivia against Argentina in 1978 World Soccer Cup." He did the same against Nakamura, though, so it's only fair :)

Ponomariov could have spared us the nerves of missing the fairly simple tactic win 26. exd6 (no, it's not a computer line a human would never see, before anyone suggests the opposite!).

Well done by Nakamura and Pono. It's particularly nice to see the former World Champion back in good shape.

When is the playoff?

Pono wins and moves into a tie with Naka. Tiebreaks coming up.

Mig writes: "Football teams play defensively with the lead in the final 15 minutes." Most imfamously they sometimes play the "prevent defense", designed to give up LITTLE ground easily but a LOT of ground only with great difficulty. The problem is that a it doesn't take many repetitions of "a little grounds" to make "a lot of ground." It is so common for the team that was winning to squander its lead that the "prevent defense" is viewed with scorn by fans who say that the only thing it prevents holding the lead and winning the game!

Nakamura played the prevent defense in the second half and Pono caught him.

Will the tie-break games be up on the live games page?

It was actually Peru that lost to Argentina in 1978 by a 6-0 score enabling Argentina to play for the championship. No such luck for Svidler here since Peruvian GM Granda prevented him to go the tiebreak round by drawing with Svidler in the final round.

That´s the point: being Peru, but playing like Bolivia!

Not that a win against Granda would have put Svidler into the tiebreak ... .

Anyway, congratulations to both Nakamura and Ponomariov - I agree with Chessgirl (in the round 8 thread) that Pono also deserves to be in the spotlights. She may be a bit biased - hope she doesn't mind if I give a slight hint: her picture is on Chessbase, but she was not playing in the women's section and isn't married with Kasimdzhanov ,:) .

As far as the blitz match is concerned: last time Nakamura confidently(?) entered such a tiebreak with a quick last-round draw (Gjovik rapid event), it didn't work out against Svidler and Carlsen ... . BTW, for what it's worth (nothing in the given situation), Ponomariov has a much better 'regular tiebreak - he didn't win against tailenders San Segundo and Karpov.

Nakamura takes the first game with White ...

And the second as black

Nakamura just won the second game as well.

Well, for the time being, it appears that Mr. Nakamura is "for real." Congrats.

USA! USA! Nice to see the red, white and blue atop a strong tournament again!

Congrats to Naka! Hopefully the momentum can continue at the other big events later this year.

Sorry to interrupt the party .. what do you mean with 'again'?
But maybe comments like this one will keep Nakamura from switching federations and playing for Canada in the future (as rumors went during the Olympiad).

Woo! Kudos to Ponomariov playing hard and making it interesting, but Nakamura still had the magic when it counted. As little as I think of tiebreaks in round-robins, it would have been a shame to not take the title after such an incredible start.

So for USAers, chalk this one up with Kamsky's World Cup win in 2007 and Onischuk's equal first in Biel the same year (losing the tiebreak to Carlsen, grrr). But both of them have been established pros forever and the naysayers have always been able to say Nakamura was just about blitz or whatever. Equal first in a category 18 with this crowd is a big cup of STFU. Top 20! He's a volatile player and I'm sure there will be many ups and downs to come, but after this the proof of his upside can no longer be denied.

Mig wrote:

"Equal first in a category 18 with this crowd is a big cup of STFU."

Couldn't have said it better myself, Miggy.

Nobody has a shot with this guy at blitz. Wow. Bang Bang, with white and black and its over!

Did Nakumura win on time in the 2nd blitz game??? The position after his 30...h6 looks won for White: 31.Rxb7 Rxb7 32.Ba6 +-

Trying to get the scores and details. As David Llada, one of the organizers, put it, "Nakamura is too fast for the DGT boards!" So the position you see might not be right because of the glitches.

Also, credit where credit is due:


ChessBase got an express report up lickety split

Hey Mig, even Anand did not get a picture on your blog when he won WCC in Bonn :-).

Not a criticism. Fan fever, when not overly done, is a good thing.

"it would have been a shame to not take the title after such an incredible start."

USA!USA! aside ... : On the other hand, isn't it (also) a shame that Ponomariov didn't take the title after his strong finish? Along with Naka, he was almost the only one 'bothering' to win against others than the tailenders/lowest-rated players. There were just two more decisive games not including Granda, San Segundo or Karpov.

But the one thing I don't like is naldo suggesting that Vallejo threw his last-round game against Ponomariov. Maybe it was just humor - if not, it is quite an insult to both players, boooooo!

Now now, while I take your point and while I rarely put up graphics of any kind, I DID put up a pic of Vishy when he won:


In fact, two images in one post, truly worthy of a world championship!

But notice that they put Pono first on the cross table. Naka's name should be on first.

Yah, that's a common problem with the software that makes the tables. It uses system tiebreaks so if you have a non-system tiebreak you would have to edit the entire table manually, which is a pain.

Mig, I apologize. Should have doubled checked. Good that you see that it was just a fun statement :-).

The software that produces the standings table in all U.S. events I've seen is much worse: It simply lists each score group in descending order of (pre-tournament) rating! Doesn't bother with tie-breaks of any kind. Very frustrating. (Qualifier: Maybe that's just the USCF MSA crosstables I'm thinking of, because it's those I see most frequently. It could be that some tourneys' own sites, such as the World Open crosstables published on the CCA site, do rank tied players by tiebreak rather than rating.)

Off-topic, but on checking the "Grandmasters' Club" link in that IPhone post above, I see a report of the Canada Open, part-way through.

What grabbed my eye is that elite (or at least, once-elite) players Shirov, Adams and Ni Hua are playing when the first prize is said to be a mere $3,000. So I guess that means organizers paid them to appear.

A very different approach from the big U.S. (i.e. CCA) open events, as well as "norm" events like last month's NY International - where I've heard the organizers wouldn't even offer to cover a top foreigner's expenses, let alone pay an appearance fee.

This is an observation, not meant as a criticism of Goichberg, of whom I'm a big admirer.

first place is $15,000
the same that the world open had.

There is no reason to admire Goichberg.

Where did you see 15,000$ ? The official website says 3,000$. And I guess the foreign GM's get some sort of appearance fee, as they are also involved in side events: Shirov and Ganguly give lectures, Adams, Ni Hua, Irina Krush and Zhao Xue play simuls.
Sources: Chessbase coverage and

Thomas - Just can't resist negativity can you patron? Well, by "again" I mean since probably Bobby Fischer.... and as for Nakamura and Canadian citizenship, he's clarified that that was a temporary concept. Read up, learn your chess history and chess present!

I think you are mixing up Canadian Open with World Open, two totally different events.

First prize was 9000 Euro, which should be around $12,700.

Regardless of whether you like me or not, I let my play at the board decide it all. As for Jim, I think White was lost all game....what do I know?!?!?

Thank you all for the nice words I'm reading when I'm back home from the closing dinner. At the end of the second game Ponomariov had about 4 seconds when he resigned, Nakamura more than 1 minute. Anyway he was totally outplayed in both blitz games. These games have been recorded by video so we will provide the correct moves. Nakamura's play have been impressive both in the normal games and in the blitz. In my humble opinion he has a huge potential and this tournament is only the start of a succesful career at the world's top. Incidentally also Capablanca won San Sebastian 1911 when he was very young and relatively unknown like this nice american guy. We are very happy about Nakamura winning our tournament although Ponomariov would have been also a great winnner as he's very nice too. Greetings from the Basque Country, time to go to bed here!

Not before clarifying that Nakamura took the full 1st price (9,000 EUR) as stated in the rules.

Thanks for a great tournament, Felix, and the unusual and very welcome level of direct communication from you, David, and Mikel. Good fun and as always, much learned for next time! Sorry I can't be there to have some Cava with you all. I am going to eat at a Basque restaurant in Seattle tomorrow in honor of the event!

Can we all "write in" Felix Izeta for President of FIDE?! (yeah, right...) He sounds like the world's nicest guy, & is obviously capable of putting on a great tournament (and it's his first one, I believe I read; or at least, the first one at that site). I think the chess public owes a big round of applause to this new host. Great job, Felix! Keep 'em coming...

Congrats to Felix et al. for putting together a fantastic event [and the knockout idea is great, but it needs some fine tuning--not good to be eliminated after a single loss. Double elimination?].

And congrats to Nakamura for a fantastic result and breaking into the top 20. Keep up your winning ways through London and Corus!

Nakamura is currently rated 2730.5 and is #17 ahead of Ivanchuk. If he can keep it up, the next several years will be fun watching him play at Corus and Linares.

Thanks Mig for your live coverage and excellent articles about the tournament minimizing the ChessBase effect ;) after all ChessBase (in Spanish I suposse) has been the site who has sent us most visitors :S

Ah, that's what you mean with 'again' - that far back in time by a player who is no longer alive. So for the time being, the (rest of the) chess world need not fear an extended period of US dominance [end of irony/sarcasm]. Comparing Nakamura and Fischer is, at the very least, premature ... .

Seriously, even if Nakamura thinking about becoming Canadian was a 'temporary concept', it might mean two things:
1) He is less patriotic than some (at least one) of his [new!? see below ...] fans.
2) He may have been missing something (acceptance? respect? support?) from "the USA" (read: fellow Americans) when things weren't going that well, when he seemed to be destined to remain an eternal talent never crossing 2700 [despite having a big mouth and big plans].

As Mig pointed out, Nakamura is a 'volatile player' with, possibly, many ups and downs to come. I won't argue whether he has more or less talnt than Ivanchuk and Shirov, for sure he has less experience at present. How will Americans react to his future downs, maybe as soon as London and/or Corus? I don't say this will happen, but it _might_ happen.

Finally, going back to noyb's initial comment: Somehow similar comments from Germans (after Naiditsch won Dortmund, when Huebner went far in the WCh cycles) or Norwegians (Carlsen) would seem rather odd. But maybe those countries are in the minority, what about Russia, Bulgaria, India, China, .... ?

Any strong player thinking of going from the US to Canada is nuts. Here is an example of the conditions for the national championship this year (and remember: $1 Canadian is roughly $.85 US).

Entry fee is $250. No exceptions.

Format is Swiss where most of the entrants are over 2200, but not all of them.

Prizes (not guaranteed, but based on 50 players) are: $3000 (plus $2000 towards a trip to the FIDE knockout), $2000, $1200, $700. Players must pay all of their own travel and accommodation expenses. Compare that to any US Championship. Even the people who finished last this year won more than the 4th place finisher in our championship.

Some people on this site don't like Nakamura, apparently for some of the things he says. On the other hand, I don't trust the players who say nothing. In the ego-driven super-comptetive world of elite chess there are no nice guys. So what are the quiet polite ones hiding? You don't have to wonder what Nakamura is thinking because he tells you. If the worst things about him are to be found in his words, then I'd say he's a pretty decent person.

"In the ego-driven super-comptetive world of elite chess there are no nice guys."

You're probably right - Svidler uses watching cricket to mask his plans for world domination, Ivanchuk's out to steal Ponamriov's girlfriend and Carlsen clubs a baby seal to death each morning before breakfast :)

Yeah, Pono's girlfriend deserves better.

"I don't trust the players who say nothing. In the ego-driven super-comptetive world of elite chess there are no nice guys"

That's also a way of saying that if someone is openly rude and arrogant to others he is still no worse than well behaving people like Svidler, maybe even a better person since he can be trusted. Nakamura is probably behaving better lately but there are numerous accounts of him calling others cheaters, attacking them in public for the same short draws he plays himself, etc. But I don't care if he makes faces at Granda or not, I just like and care about his chess and wish him well.

Possibly one of the reasons Svidler has faded from the top ten is that he is genuinely friendly. He has the talent but he himself has said he finds it hard to decline a draw.

"openly rude and arrogant "

You must be referring to comments made when he was 18 years old or under. Both nakamura's play and behaviour has matured a lot since then.

You forgot about Topa , if you leave his war with Kramnik apart , he is the nicest guy @.

Manu, you're nothing, if not consistent.

And, what's not to like about your logic: "Except for the data that do not support my point, the data support my point"?

Just pointing that the guy is (and has been all his career) a very aproachable an nice person and that many tend to forget that because someone cheated on him in Elista...
ha ha , forget the Elista remark , what i mean is that you cannot blame Topa because of his relationship with Kramnik.

Manu said: "...someone cheated on him in Elista...ha ha , forget the Elista remark..."

Ok Manu, I'll forget your remark about cheating if you promise not to keep saying it. Do we have a deal?

You make Topalov sound like one of those serial killers who always make such good neighbours, Manu :)

If you read carefully Luke, you will find that i was asking Curmudgeon to forget the joke, not you , for what i care you can remember it the rest of your life.
So nop, we do not have a deal .

Did you see the Seinfeld episode when he talks about that ( neighbours killers)?
Very nice.

"If you read carefully Luke, you will find that i was asking Curmudgeon to forget the joke, not you..."

Oh, so when you reply to someone, whatever you say, good or ugly, is not for the rest of us to comment about? Be careful Manu, that could work against you.

You can comment all you want , but you cannot put yourself in the shoes of the person asked .
It is a very simple rule , but i would give you a demo so you can practice with your frinds or family or whoever actually talks to you:
Imagine a room full of people talking , then imagine somebody says to someone something dirty and then goes : ¨ pardon my language ¨

you can:
a) ask them to repeat the dirty part of the joke.
b) comment on the joke itself
c) keep trying to understand what´s been said

but you cannot:
a)b)and c) answer in the name of the person asked ...

Jordan women shoes

Jordan men shoes

Jordan blue


roductDetail_192-Jordan-shoes-13-high-8.html" title="jordan blue">jordan blue
nike slat trainer
blue breeze
east nike
east white
converse nike

http://www.newmbtshoe.com/ Many of the White House "after 80" say, as if working in the White House every day in the university examination room, the moment did not dare relax. In their eyes, as big sister Michelle first lady, are concerned about them, even for them when the matchmaker, while Obama is just like a stern father. An assistant said: "He never yelled, even angry when they kept restrained. But stern look scary than anything else.

http://newfivefingers.com80 after the White House: Obama's Secretary say every day as the examination
This is a unique group of young people: they often work late into the night, anytime, anywhere view the phone, the pace of life entirely to follow the "boss" to go; their passion for the U.S. President to write the script, but also for the senior White House aides They handed him the boiling hot tea meetings; their 3322 live in an area north of the White House, weekends, like to gather in Washington fashionable W Hotel opening party, or go to someone at home playing video games; together, they noisy, and sometimes even alerted the police; They are passionate, the United States President Barack Obama's famous slogan "Yes we can" to come from their pen.
Them, is the White House is full of vigor "after 80" secretaries.
Obama's pen
A weekend afternoon, Obama's chief White House speech writer Feifu Luo sitting across the street from the coffee shop, products with fragrant coffee, Manyou You said: "If one day I left Washington, DC The most memorable or friends here. "talking about Obama, he betrayed a look of reverence. Feifu Luo said: "Because Obama, I stay in this line of politics. In addition to Obama, I will not write the script for the other politicians had."
In order to pondering the most powerful language, Feifu Luo and Obama often sit opposite one that a note, repeated scrutiny. Feifu Luo calls this "demonstrate their martial arts." Busiest time, Feifu Luo has been working from 5:00 am to 3:00 the next day, he said: "I take great sense of responsibility almost overwhelmed!" Task 1, he put everyone called a small conference rooms, behind closed doors to discuss from morning to night, hungry, called takeout, the style is entirely a students. On one occasion, in order to write the script, he did a few weeks of investigation, consultation with historians and other writers, and Barack Obama face to face consultations four or five times, then put the computer, and got into a Starbucks coffee shop in Washington, irrigation of coffee after a belly to write a speech, one of the most popular phrase is: "Yes we can!"
They are low profile
Obama love fitness, so "the White House junior," have also become a health club membership. Many people every morning 5:30 on the health club workout.
In the White House, the young staff also learned to live a low profile. Handsome's Feifu Luo, who boarded the "People" magazine's most handsome man who charts and "Time" magazine 100 most influential people list. Other outstanding looks young staff, also boarded the "Vanity Fair", "fashion" magazine. They also fixed on the paparazzi: Feifu Luo and the White House sex scandal, Assistant Kanboweidi transmitted lot of heated discussions; also said that he and a female star in dating. Fei Fuluo gradually come to realize, as a close political ties with the people, that they have no right to privacy can only be more careful to have a good life under the spotlight. Similarly, the work of the young fellow in the White House, Peggy, on the outside to say that their work at the supermarket.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 16, 2009 4:04 AM.

    San Sebastián 09 r8: Karpov's Nightmare was the previous entry in this blog.

    Message from Donostia is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.