DR. ABDUL RUFF
Chess world championship last month ended the year of chess tournaments when Carlsen won the coveted global position by defeating many times winner Anand, ending his run almost for permanent hold.
The 26-year-old top grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura from USA has won the 5th London Chess Classic, staged this year as a rapid chess tournament with group stages and followed by an 8 player knockout and billed as the Super Sixteen Rapid. Nakamura defeated former world championship finalist Boris Gelfand of Israel by 4-1 (1½-½) in the final.
Nakamura defeated Boris Gelfand who rather crushed Michael Adams in the semifinals. Nakamura went through the event undefeated although he was severely tested in a number of games including most obviously in his semifinal win against Vladimir Kramnik. The semifinals saw Gelfand defeat Adams 1.5-0.5. Gelfand got a huge advantage with black in the second game but traded down to a draw.
It is probably many a year since Kramnik had as painful a loss as he did in game two of his match against Nakamura to go out. The first game saw Nakamura drag Kramnik into a tactical fight where he had the better of it but the game ended in a draw. Nakamura by his own admission made “two very bad moves” in the second game against Kramnik in the opening and was pretty much busted. However Nakamura did manage to keep a significant advantage on the clock which was essential in trying to hold a very difficult ending. Kramnik never recovered his composure, he was also very short of time and five moves later he made an excruciating blunder of his rook in a position that had started to become tricky.
In the first game of the final Nakamura found himself in a variation of the Gruenfeld which was bad for white against Gelfand but after that Nakamura played very strongly, went on to win nicely. In the second game Nakamura played an old variation of the King’s Indian, as Gelfand held the advantage for a long time but it seemed to be Nakamura dictating play. Nakamura got a big advantage on the clock.
Hikaru’s progression through the competition was impressive. To go through without a loss was a clear sign of strength. His toughest moment was when he came close to elimination in his second semi-final game with Vladimir Kramnik but he showed an amazing resilience in first holding the former world champion at bay and then taking advantage of Kramnik’s evident state of confusion to finish the match off with a win.
In the final match against Boris Gelfand, Hikaru showed the courage of his convictions by going straight for an ultra-sharp tactic in the opening against a player who had hitherto proved himself the best defender in the event, and also at this time control in world championship qualifiers.
As the world number four on the FIDE Rating List for classical chess, and number three at rapid chess, the result was far from being a surprise but it was a significant achievement in the career of a remarkable player who must be a leading contender to threaten Magnus Carlsen’s world crown in the next few years.
Former world champion Viswanathan Anand bowed out of the London Chess Classic after losing the quarter-finals against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia 0.5-1.5 here at the Olympia.
Surely, Anand and sports ministry must be contemplating to end his chess board innings and teak up a job of chess trainer and adviser. Some sports related strategists privately feel that Indian government’s abrupt announcement of offering Pharatrata to Cricket beneficiary Sachuin Tendulker when Anand was in the midst of world championship rustling with world number one Carlsen hit the central nail into his ambition to stay the world champion for ever..
Anand, who had shown fine form coming in to the quarters, ran out of steam in the second game with white pieces and found himself in a lost position in almost no time in the 1,50,000 Euros prize money tournament. It turned out to be a disappointing game for Anand, making him to consider call it a day.
Michael Adams of England kept the local hopes alive by defeating Russian Peter Svidler in the tiebreaker while Boris Gelfand of Israel stole the limelight ousting Fabiano Caruana of Italy. In the other quarter-final, Hikaru Nakamura of United States defeated Nigel Short to cement his place in the semis.
Nakamura, like Kramnik, cruised in to the semifinal defeating Short 1.5-0.5. The American won the first game with black and then drew with white making things look easy.
Michael Adams’ early lead against Peter Svidler was squared off by the Russian in the return game but in the tiebreaker the English was spot on and won both his games in the ten-minute chess. Boris Gelfand had a similar tale to tell in the tiebreaker against fancied Fabiano Caruana after both games under rapid time control ended in draws.