Candidates 2022 R8: Nakamura wins a positional masterpiece
Hikaru Nakamura is a professional chess streamer currently signed with Misfits Gaming. However, one must not forget that he is also a world-class player. It is safe to say that he has played and analyzed more games of his in this year than the remaining players of the event. While Caruana might have seemed to be invincible, the Speed King showed that his tactical prowess is not the sole strength in his arsenal. He can very much outclass anyone in a positional duel too. Nepomniachtchi is still in the lead 6/8, followed by Caruana 5/8 and Nakamura 4.5/8. Richard Rapport scored the only other win of the round against Duda. Round 9 starts today at 3 p.m. local time, 6:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE
Nakamura denies Caruana's hat-trick
Based on the performance in Candidates 2022 so far, critics and experts of the sport thought that it became a two-horse race between Nepomniachtchi and Caruana. Well, Nakamura had something to say about it. He spoke eloquently on the board by scoring an exemplary win. Rapport scored the quickest win of the event so far in 29 moves. In contrast, Alireza Firouzja (FRA) and Teimour Radjabov (AZE) had a 93-move long seven-hour battle which ended in a draw.
Rapport - Duda: 1-0
Richard Rapport (HUN) won a one-sided game against Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL). The Hungarian launched a generic attack on the kingside. The Pole did not respond correctly and self-destructed his position.
22...g6 followed by Kg7 was a better way to prevent the onslaught on the kingside. 22...Ng5 is not bad either because it forces the closure of g-file after 23.hxg5 and also opens up the h-file in the process. 23...Bc8 24.Rg2 Rae7 25. Qf3 g6? a delayed g6 turned things completely in White's favor 26.Rh1 f5 27.Kg1 b4 28.exf5 gxf5 29.Ne4 prompted Black to resign. There is no way to stop the devastating by all White's major pieces.
Nakamura - Caruana: 1-0
Hikaru Nakamura spent two hours preparing Open Ruy Lopez on the previous night before his game against Fabiano Caruana. That is exactly the opening that happened in the game. Before the game, the Speed King thought that his compatriot might play Berlin or Petroff. The streamer's third option he thought he will face was Open Spanish.
22...c4 was a positional mistake. Nakamura felt that Black should have played 22...e4 instead. 23.Nh4 is not a big concern as Black has 23...g6/Qd7 to prevent Nhf5. 23.Bd1 Rd7 24.Bf2 Rdf7 25.Nh1 to do what needs to be done, Nakamura did it perfectly by bringing his knight to the corner of the board. It also protects the bishop at f2 which means e5-pawn is under attack. 25...e4 26.Nd4 White got a blockade in the center and Black's advantage has completely evaporated. 26...Qg6 27.h4 Nc5? 28.h5 Qd6 29.Bg4 White got what he wanted - his bishop to g4 and in the play, meanwhile Black's bishop at d3 is a paperweight, doing absolutely nothing.
A few positional mistakes induced by time trouble caused the advantage to completely shift into Nakamura's favor. He did what Caruana did on the previous day, a king walk. Only difference is here, the king walked towards the center of the board. Nakamura played in a very humane way and without making any mistakes, won the game.
Replay Round 8 games
Round 8 results
|1||8||2764||GM||Rapport Richard||1 - 0||GM||Duda Jan-Krzysztof||2750||1|
|2||7||2766||GM||Nepomniachtchi Ian||½ - ½||GM||Ding Liren||2806||2|
|3||6||2760||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||1 - 0||GM||Caruana Fabiano||2783||3|
|4||5||2793||GM||Firouzja Alireza||½ - ½||GM||Radjabov Teimour||2753||4|
Round 9 pairings
|1||5||2793||GM||Firouzja Alireza||GM||Rapport Richard||2764||8|
|2||4||2753||GM||Radjabov Teimour||GM||Nakamura Hikaru||2760||6|
|3||3||2783||GM||Caruana Fabiano||GM||Nepomniachtchi Ian||2766||7|
|4||2||2806||GM||Ding Liren||GM||Duda Jan-Krzysztof||2750||1|
Standings after Round 8