Nakamura Wins Convincingly to Clinch Classical Match
By Ken West   
May 23, 2011
Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Ray Robson each won with white Sunday to take the lead going into the rapid portion of their international matches at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Nakamura’s win gives him a 3.5-2.5 lead over Ukrainian Grandmaster Ruslan Ponomariov. Robson leads Finegold 4-2.

The match resumes with two rapid games Tuesday and ends Wednesday with two rapid games.

Nakamura played the exchange variation of the Queen’s Gambit declined, a line he drew with in game four. On move six, Nakamura played Qc2 instead of the e3 he played in game four. On move eight, Ponomariov placed his queen on g6. Nakamura exchanged queens, with the former world champion recapturing with his h pawn. Ponomariov said he didn’t expect Nakamura to trade the heavy pieces. He thought the American would decline the trade to keep the position complicated, which would require more calculation. Ponomariov has said during the match that calculation is one of Hikaru’s major strengths.

 

“I just made normal moves, and I suddenly realized there are no more good moves,” Ponomariov told commentators WGM Jen Shahade and IM John Donaldson. “I was just simply outplayed.”

He said in retrospect he should have taken more time in the opening.

Despite the result thus far, Ponomariov said he likes this type of match. He said he did not think he was showing his best chess but wants to talk to the Ukrainian Chess Federation about setting up a similar match in return. Shahade joked that he wanted a rematch on home turf. He said this match is preparing him to play in his country’s championship, a 12-player round robin.

“I really got what I wanted out of the opening for the first time,” Nakamura said after the game. His opponent’s 10. a6 was “a very slight mistake.”

“It’s hard to say it’s bad,” Nakamura said. “All my moves were natural.”

As for the rapid games, Nakamura said for the off day Monday he will relax, watch hockey games and not work on preparation.

“I’ve prepared a lot the last six games,” he said.

Robson-Finegold renewed their battle in the Dragon variation, again exciting Donaldson and Shahade, both Dragon aficionados. 

 

When Robson pushed h4 on move 10, Shahade called it “caveman chess” laughing and repeating Bobby Fischer’s “sac, sac and mate.” After the game Robson said h4 was “the only good deviation I could find.”

“Before Re2 I think I was winning,” Finegold said about his 27th move. He thought Robson’s 26. g5 “seems suspicious.”

To follow the games live, visit saintlouischessclub.org/nakamura-v-ponomariov-robson-v-finegold/live
Live commentary by IM John Donaldson and WGM Jennifer Shahade can be found atlivestream.com/uschess. Rounds and commentary are open to club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.