Hikaru Blogs from Philly
By Hikaru Nakamura   
December 4, 2006

Good day out there to everyone who reads Chess Life Online. After winning the National Chess Congress (Philadelphia, November 24-26), I felt compelled to annotate a game and write an article. To be honest, the past four months have been nothing short of a blur. Since my last tournament that was in Japan this past August, I simply have not had time to look at any chess with the exception of playing on ICC during my spare free time. This is due to the fact that I enrolled in Dickinson College as a full-time college student (political science major). Thus far, I have had many memorable experiences, which I will never forget.

Going into this tournament my expectations were extremely modest; my goal was to simply play solid chess and avoid any blunders. I figured that I had an outside chance to win the tournament, but I did not expect to win it. Quite the contrary, I figured that in all likelihood 4-5 points would be very good. However, the tournament turned out quite differently for me as I went on to win the tournament by a clear half point with 5.5/6. My first three games were pretty routine for me as I beat masters Kis and Coleman, and ground down IM Sarkar in a moderately difficult third round. At this point, my first real challenge came in the form of GM Alexander Ivanov. Having played him many times, I expected a tough game. Fortunately for me, he played into one of my favorite obscure variations of the French and got confused in the ensuing double-edged position with both kings under attack on opposite sides of the board.

Then in round five I simply outplayed GM Yudasin:


Yudasin tends to be a very solid player. However, his openings have some weaknesses that can sometimes be exploited by good players.
1...c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7!?
This came as a surprise to me because whenever Yudasin plays the Kan, he almost exclusively plays 6...Ba7. In one of our past games he played 6...Ba7 as well. 6...Ba7 7.0–0 Ne7 8.Nc3 Nbc6 9.Qe2 0–0 10.Be3 b5 11.Bxa7 Rxa7 12.Qe3 d6 13.a4 b4 14.Ne2 e5 15.a5 Ra8 16.Bc4 Kh8 17.Rfd1 Nakamura-Yudasin, HB Global Challenge Minnesota 2004
7.f4 d6 8.Be3 Nf6 9.N1d2
This idea has been played several times, but first gained major attention when Anand used it against Polish Grandmaster Thomas Markowski.
RR 9...b6 10.Qe2 Bb7 11.0–0–0 Qc7 12.g4 Nfd7 13.Kb1 Nc6 14.c3 b5 15.Rhf1 e5 16.f5 h6 17.Qf2 Rc8 18.h4 b4 19.Rc1 bxc3 20.Rxc3 Qd8 21.f6!± Anand-Markowski, German Bundesliga 2003
I came up with this idea over the board.This is better than previous tries as it forces black to concede with h6. Otherwise, black can play h5 or Qc7 followed by Nc5
10...h6 11.Qe2 Qc7 12.0–0–0 g5?

Position after 12...g5
After this ill-advised move, I retain a small but significant edge for the rest of the game. After the game, Yudasin mentioned that he was worried about me playing g5-g6 but as it turns out, this is not a very dangerous threat. 12...b5 13.h4 (13.g5!? hxg5 14.fxg5 Nh5 15.g6 f6 16.Nd4 Ne5=) 13...h5 14.g5 Ng4 15.Nf3 and White has a slight edge.
13.fxg5 hxg5 14.Bxg5 Ne5

Position after 14...Ne5

I rejected 15.h3! because of 15...Nh5! 16.Bxe7 Nf4 17.Qf1 Nfxd3+ 18.Kb1 Nxb2 19.Bxd6 Qxd6 20.Kxb2 Qe7 21.Nc4± with a clear edge, so h3 turned out to be best after all.
15...Bd7 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.h3 Bc6 18.Bf4 Nfd7 19.g5
This stops black from putting the bishop on the h8-a1 diagonal.
19...Ba4 20.Nf3 Nxd3 21.Qxd3 Qc4 22.Qxc4 Rxc4 23.Nbd4!
After this move, Yudasin never has any chances to salvage even a mere draw. 23...Bc6
23...e5 24.b3 Rc8 25.bxa4 exf4 26.Rg4±
Not 24.Nxc6? Rxe4! 25.Nxe7 Rxf4 26.Nc8 Rxf3 27.Nxd6+ Ke7 28.Nxb7 Rf5² 24...e5 25.Nxc6 bxc6 26.Bc1 Nc5 27.Nd2 Rb4 28.h4± Kd7 29.c3 Rbb8 30.Kc2 Ke6 31.Nc4 Rh5 32.b4 Nd7 33.Ne3 a5 34.Nf5 Bf8 35.bxa5 Ra8 36.Ba3 c5
36...Rxa5? 37.Bxd6 Bxd6 38.Ng7+ Ke7 39.Nxh5+-
37.Bc1 Rxa5 38.a3 d5 39.Ng3 Rh8 40.exd5+ Kxd5 41.h5 Ra4 42.Rhf1 Ke6 43.h6 Rg4 44.Nh5 c4 45.Nf4+ Kd6 45...Ke7 46.Re4+- 46.Rd1+ Kc6 47.Nd5 Rg2+ 48.Kb1 Nc5 49.Rxf7 Ne4 50.Rc7+ Kb5 51.a4+!
Position after 51.a4!
The finishing touch.
If Kxa4, Rxc4 wins the knight and the game.
and Yudasin resigned here as he could not prevent mate without giving up an extra piece. 1–0

Oddly enough, the two games which involved people who had 3.5/4 both ended in draws which left me a clear point ahead of the field going into the last round, but I didn’t have an easy task. I got black against GM Izoria from Georgia, who seems to have immigrated to the United States recently and is currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Considering that I already had a clear point lead, I decided to offer Izoria an early draw, as it would be extremely beneficial for me to get back to school early on Sunday evening. Instead, Izoria decided that he wanted to play. I equalized very early on in the game and eventually garnered an extra exchange. Unfortunately, it was just not quite enough to win, but despite this, it was a very successful tournament for me. And I was also fortunate enough to see my beloved Tennessee Titans rally from a 21-0 fourth quarter deficit and prevail 24-21 over the New York Giants!!

I was impressed by two players in the National Chess Congress: Justin Sarkar and Ray Robson. Justin managed to go 5-1 beating GM Yudasin in the last round to take clear U2400 money in the tournament. It seems that Justin has been playing better of late as he recently won the Kings Island Open a couple of weeks ago, beating GM Izoria along the way. I also have to give major props to the young 12 year old Ray Robson, as he scored 4/6 beating Jake Kleiman and IM David Vigorito along the way. I must say that he is the first real talent I have seen in many years, and he very much reminds me of myself when I was younger, as he has a penchant for playing very aggressive and daring openings with both white and black.

As far as the future is concerned, many people have already started speculating as to whether I am intending to return to chess. Right now, I am simply trying to finish out my first semester of freshman year at college. We shall see what the future holds for me, but as of right now playing chess professionally is not on mind. However, having had such a successful return in Philly, I will definitely be playing tournaments again before too long.