The Hikaru Nakamura Blog

Musings by Hikaru Nakamura on life, chess, and travel. Don't forget to subscribe to receive timely updates.

Japan Part I

August 15, 2008 • General

Hello again to all the readers in the blogosphere world. Since there is no live coverage of the tournament I am playing here in Japan, (quite a rarity for me these days ) I will catch everyone up on my results. So far I am 4/4 having played no one particularly strong thus far, but I will probably have to beat a couple of masters today, so anything is possible. The tournament itself is 7 rounds so there are two rounds today (Japan is 13 hours ahead of the US, 16 hours ahead of Vancouver) and then one round tomorrow. Hopefully I can continue to play well and win. Until next time, adieu.


2008 United States Chess League

August 13, 2008 • General

Greetings from hot and humid Japan. I will now confirm that I will be playing in the US Chess League for the Seattle Sluggers in the 2008 edition. Last year, I played for the New York Knights. We had some memorable matches and I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Despite my rather mediocre performance throughout, the team did reasonably well before we lost to Boston in the semifinals. The main reason I have decided to play for Seattle as opposed to New York is the fact that I am residing in Vancouver right now, so it makes sense to play for Seattle which is only a few hours away. This year, I will try to do better than last year and I look forward to having a good result and Go Sluggers!


Mainz Recap&Japan

August 12, 2008 • General

Hello everyone! I haven’t blogged in some time, so I will give some general updates on my plans for the future.

Obviously, my most recent tournaments were in Mianz, Germany where I won the Fischer Random tournament. Overall, I felt like I played very well for the first part of the tournament first 6-7 rounds, then I fell apart. Despite being in great condition these days, I think that the fact that I was unable to get on the time zone definitely had some effect on me. From the very first day there I started falling asleep around 6-7 PM and waking up at 1 or 2 AM. Throughout the whole tournament this held true as I would play my games and then promptly fall asleep immediately. On some level this almost certainly affected me, but alas I’ll get back to the tournament itself. The first truly bad game I played was against GM Evgenij Najer who I have played quite a few times in the past although none of the games were within the last two years. In the game itself, I was worse out of the opening, then dropped a pawn for complications which only led to me being dead lost. However, he then proceeded to get low on time and made a horrendous blunder which allowed me to win the game. Then in my game against GM Sergei Movsesian, I got a slightly worse position out of the opening before I proceeded to completely outplay him in the middlegame and win comfortably. After this round I was the clear leader with 8.5/9 while the nearest competitors were on 7.5/9. In round 10 I faced GM Arkadij Naiditsch with whom I have a long history. Out of the opening the position was fairly balanced although I was probably slightly worse. Then in the endgame I completely panicked and messed up a slightly worse endgame by losing. This completely opened the field up as Naiditsch was tied while there were a ton of people a half point behind. In the final round I played GM Vladimir Potkin and got a great position out of the opening. As the game drifted through the middlegame and into the endgame, I reached a comfortable position up a pawn and probably winning. Unfortunately, I think proceeded to hallucinate badly and drew my game. This left Naiditsch in position to win the tournament as he was up a queen and winning against Motylev. Amazingly, he blundered badly allowing Motylev a miracle check mate. This allowed GM Movesian to also catch up leading to a three way tie for first place. Luckily for me, my tiebreaks were best so I will be invited to the 4 player closed 960 event next year.

Onto the rapid event. Once again, the field was comprised of the same set of Grandmasters as in the Fischer Random with GMs Movsesian and Eljanov being the top two seeds while I was number three. I started off well scoring 3/3 but then after obtaining a small edge against my countryman GM-elect Vinay Bhat, I badly misplayed it and proceeded to end up in a losing endgame. However, due to the fact that we were both in quite bad time pressure, then game ended up in a draw. After a win in round 5, I was sitting on 4.5/5 after the first day of play. The second day got off to a very interesting start as I was paired against the Swedish legend Ulf Andersson. Amazingly, he didn’t show up and the arbiter informed me that he was rather sick. So after this fluke win, I was paired against the Polish GM Thomas Markowski. After playing like a total clown, I was in quite a bit of trouble in the middlegame, being down a pawn and having very little counterplay. However, after a few slight inaccuracies I was able to regain the pawn and reach equality. In the extremely entertaining endgame, I tried very hard to win, but Markowski played accurately and didn’t crack under the pressure so the game was a draw. 6/7. In round 8 I played a very fundamentally sound game and beat GM Arutunian from Armenia without any boom bang fireworks. Then came the tragedy. In round 9 on 7/8 and still 1 point out of the lead due to a great start by Nepomniatchi, I was paired against the strong Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi. The opening was the English Variation in the Najdorf with Almasi going for the early g4 variation. After a standard first 11 moves, I introduced the novelty 11…Ng6!? In a very complicated middlegame I outplayed Almasi and got a great position if not winning after 25 moves. However, I completely self-destructed and hung two pieces in a horrible manner, thus eliminating any chance of winning both tournaments. I still finished off nicely as I beat IM Polzin and GM Buhmann (2nd time) to score 9/11. In one of my next blogs, I will attach the Almasi game with annotations.

With that performance behind me, I am now in Japan getting set to play the Japan League for the 3rd year running and trying to keep my current perfect score (14/14) intact. The tournament will be seven rounds and I look forward to playing some classical chess for the first time in nearly three months. Hopefully I can play well and break 2700 right here and now. Please note that the Live Rating list will almost certainly not have an update on this tournament, so even if I break 2700 here it will not be reported in all likelihood.

Till next time, all the best!

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