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Candidates 2022 R8: Nakamura wins a positional masterpiece

by Shahid Ahmed - 27/06/2022

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.

Never count out Nakamura | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE

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.

Position after 22...Ng5

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.

Richard Rapport bounced back well after suffering a loss yesterday | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren (CHN): 0.5-0.5 | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE

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.

Position after 22...c4

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.

Position after 54.Ke5

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.

Dear YouTube, Revenge is SWEET!! | Video: GMHikaru
Hikaru Nakamura's handling of knights too hot for Fabiano Caruana | Video: ChessBase India

Nakamura ended Caruana's unbeaten run at this event | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE

After 93 moves and seven long hour of play, Firouzja-Radjabov ended in a draw | Photo: Steve Bonhage/FIDE
FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022 Round 8 Live Commentary by IM Sagar Shah, Amruta Mokal and GM Avetik Grigoryan | Video: ChessBase India

Replay Round 8 games

Round 8 results

182764GMRapport Richard1 - 0GMDuda Jan-Krzysztof27501
272766GMNepomniachtchi Ian½ - ½GMDing Liren28062
362760GMNakamura Hikaru1 - 0GMCaruana Fabiano27833
452793GMFirouzja Alireza½ - ½GMRadjabov Teimour27534

Round 9 pairings

152793GMFirouzja AlirezaGMRapport Richard27648
242753GMRadjabov TeimourGMNakamura Hikaru27606
332783GMCaruana FabianoGMNepomniachtchi Ian27667
422806GMDing LirenGMDuda Jan-Krzysztof27501


Standings after Round 8

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
17GMNepomniachtchi IanFID27666,021,5040,0
23GMCaruana FabianoUSA27835,018,7530,0
36GMNakamura HikaruUSA27604,517,7520,0
48GMRapport RichardHUN27644,014,0010,0
52GMDing LirenCHN28063,514,2500,0
61GMDuda Jan-KrzysztofPOL27503,011,5000,0
74GMRadjabov TeimourAZE27533,011,2500,0
85GMFirouzja AlirezaFRA27933,010,5000,0



Official site

Tournament Regulations

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