Nakamura Close but no Point in London, Round 1
December 8, 2009
GMs Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura, Photo Cathy Rogers

US Champion Hikaru Nakamura almost won his first game in the London Chess Classic against Ni Hua of China. He won an exchange for a pawn after outplaying his opponent in the opening and middlegame. According to GM Ian Rogers, who is in London and will later file reports for CLO, Ni himself said, "I completely forgot my preparation and my opponent played very well in the opening. I missed 19.Ba5! but even if I had seen it my position was very bad."

Position after 19.Ba5!

However, Hikaru slipped in conversion. Hua said, "He must have missed something when he thought for 40 minutes and played 40.Kg4. Up to then he had played all the accurate moves in the endgame."

Position after 39...Rc2

Nakamura said, "This game was reminiscent of my first round in Amsterdam; I messed up in exactly the same way. I hallucinated. I thought that the Black pawn was on ...h5. This is important in the variation 40.e6! Rc7 41.f5 Ke5 42.Rf7 Rc8 43.e7 Re8 44.f6 b3 45. Rf8 b2 46.f7 b1(Q) 47.fxe8(Q) Qg1+ 48.Kh3 and now if he pawn was on h5 he would have ...Qg4 but of course it isn't and I am winning.40.Kg4 was just a trap. "


GM Ian Rogers talking with GM Hikaru Nakamura, Photo Cathy Rogers

The headline game of the day for the rest of the world was undoubtedly Magnus Carlsen's face-off with Vladimir Kramnik, in which the 19-year-old 2800 came out on top:


You can follow the action at 9 AM EST on the official website where live games and commentary will be available. Look for more news on CLO editor Jennifer Shahade will be commenting on games two, four and five for the Internet Chess Club. Also keep your eyes on CLO for on-the-scene updates by GM Ian Rogers.