Reports | September 29, 2012 21:19

London R8: Kasimdzhanov beats Adams, Nakamura loses again

Hikaru Nakamura

On Saturday Hikaru Nakamura lost his third consecutive game in London. The American grandmaster played the Exchange Ruy Lopez against Vassily Ivanchuk, who won the ending after 58 moves and 6 hours of play. Rustam Kasimdzhanov beat Michael Adams and as all other games were drawn, Boris Gelfand is still leading the pack at the FIDE Grand Prix.

Three losses in a row for top seed Hikaru Nakamura | Photo © Ray Morris-Hill 

Event Grand Prix | PGN via TWIC
Dates September 20-October 4, 2012
Location London, UK
System 12-player round robin
Players Hikaru Nakamura, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Wang Hao, Boris Gelfand, Peter Leko, Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov
Rate of play

120 minutes for the Ô¨Årst 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then each player will be allotted 15 minutes after the second time control and an increment of 30 seconds per move will be allowed from move 61 onwards

Extra Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents; players will continue to play if the arbiter does not authorise the draw

“So far so good” were the words of Boris Gelfand when he left the playing venue Saturday evening. Even though he couldn't win a slightly better ending against Anish Giri, the Israeli grandmaster had enough reasons to be satisfied. He's still hasn't given up his half point lead, and can regain energy on the second and last rest day to defend it over the last three rounds.

Hikaru Nakamura, the number one grandmaster from the USA, surely won't be satisfied. As the pre-tournament favorite he must have had the intention to win the tournament, but with three rounds to go he is in last place, having lost his last three games. The same happened to him in the last three rounds at the Reggio Emilia tournament in early January this year. As Thomas notes, it seems that the American belongs to the group of players like Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov and Alexander Morozevich (no bad company!) whose can have huge form swings, even during a tournament.

Let's start with the leader of the pack, the man who played 6-6 in classical games back in May against the World Champ, and continues to show good form. Gelfand faced Anish Giri, who played a slightly surprising opening: the King's Indian! In New in Chess Magazine 2012/06 the Dutchman wrote:

The KID is sort of back in fashion these days. For some reason, no one bothers to take it seriously and refute it once and for all.

Well, the fact that Giri played it himself against none other than Gelfand proves that this remark was mostly tongue-in-cheek. Besides, most top players these days play a lot of openings, and because Giri faced it quite a few times with White recently, he probably just feels comfortable in these Bayonet structures at the moment. And, as he explains in the video, he already analysed this line when he was 14! (Which, in his case, is only 4 years ago...) Both players felt that Black was lost at some point.

PGN string

Videos by Macauley Peterson

The round started with a quick draw (though not as quick as Ivanchuk-Kasimdzhanov!) between Veselin Topalov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. As the Bulgarian pointed out, everyone is well prepared in this tournament and because his opponent played very accurately, Topalov had to repeat moves at an early stage.

PGN string

Kasimdzhanov put some pressure on Adams by playing relatively fast, to avoid timetrouble. This strategy worked, because Adams did get in slight timetrouble and couldn't find the accurate moves in a drawn QN vs QN ending.  

PGN string

Leko and Grischuk played a long theoretical line in the Sicilian, English Attack. At move 18 Grischuk couldn't remember the right move which had been played earlier this year by Alexander Khalifman, and Leko got a close to winning advantage. The Hungarian then let it slip away with a "one-move blunder".

PGN string

Dominguez reached a very good ending against Wang Hao but failed to win it. In the video below both players give comments in their native language, unfortunately without subtitles.

PGN string

Again Hikaru Nakamura was involved in the longest game and again... he lost it. He played one of Bobby Fischer's favorite lines, the Exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez, but not à l Fischer (who played 7.Nxd4 against Portisch in 1966 and twice against Spassky in the 1992 match). After a series of exchanges Black was slightly more comfortable, especially when he could fix White's queenside pawns on light squares. Somehow things got from bad to worse for Nakamura, who had to throw in the towel at move 58. 

PGN string

Schedule & pairings

Round 1 15:00 CET 21.09.12   Round 2 15:00 CET 22.09.12
Kasimdzhanov ½-½ Leko   Leko 1-0 Ivanchuk
Nakamura 0-1 Gelfand   Adams ½-½ Mamedyarov
Topalov ½-½ Grischuk   Giri ½-½ Wang Hao
Dominguez ½-½ Giri   Grischuk ½-½ Dominguez
Wang Hao ½-½ Adams   Gelfand ½-½ Topalov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Ivanchuk   Kasimdzhanov 0-1 Nakamura
Round 3 15:00 CET 23.09.12   Round 4 15:00 CET 24.09.12
Nakamura ½-½ Leko   Leko ½-½ Adams
Topalov ½-½ Kasimdzhanov   Giri ½-½ Ivanchuk
Dominguez ½-½ Gelfand   Grischuk 1-0 Mamedyarov
Wang Hao ½-½ Grischuk   Gelfand 1-0 Wang Hao
Mamedyarov 1-0 Giri   Kasimdzhanov ½-½ Dominguez
Ivanchuk ½-½ Adams   Nakamura ½-½ Topalov
Round 5 15:00 CET 25.09.12   Round 6 15:00 CET 27.09.12
Topalov ½-½ Leko   Leko ½-½ Giri
Dominguez ½-½ Nakamura   Grischuk ½-½ Adams
Wang Hao ½-½ Kasimdzhanov   Gelfand ½-½ Ivanchuk
Mamedyarov ½-½ Gelfand   Kasimdzhanov 0-1 Mamedyarov
Ivanchuk ½-½ Grischuk   Nakamura 0-1 Wang Hao
Adams ½-½ Giri   Topalov 1-0 Dominguez
Round 7 15:00 CET 28.09.12   Round 8 15:00 CET 29.09.12
Dominguez ½-½ Leko   Leko ½-½ Grischuk
Wang Hao ½-½ Topalov   Gelfand ½-½ Giri
Mamedyarov 1-0 Nakamura   Kasimdzhanov 1-0 Adams
Ivanchuk ½-½ Kasimdzhanov   Nakamura 0-1 Ivanchuk
Adams 0-1 Gelfand   Topalov ½-½ Mamedyarov
Giri ½-½ Grischuk   Dominguez ½-½ Wang Hao
Round 9 15:00 CET 01.10.12   Round 10 15:00 CET 02.10.12
Wang Hao - Leko   Leko - Gelfand
Mamedyarov - Dominguez   Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk
Ivanchuk - Topalov   Nakamura - Giri
Adams - Nakamura   Topalov - Adams
Giri - Kasimdzhanov   Dominguez - Ivanchuk
Grischuk - Gelfand   Wang Hao - Mamedyarov
Round 11 12:00 CET 03.10.12        
Mamedyarov - Leko        
Ivanchuk - Wang Hao        
Adams - Dominguez        
Giri - Topalov        
Grischuk - Nakamura        
Gelfand - Kasimdzhanov        

London GP 2012 | Round 8 standings


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


RG13's picture

Nakamura has completely collapsed. His performance rating so far has been 2598 and he is clearly much stronger than that. Either he is sick physically or is going through something mental or emotional. Any other ideas?

Hugh Jass's picture

BS RG13 this is his level, It goes to show how weak USA chess stanard is, he should stick to 1/0 ON icc with his iditic groupie fans and do everyone ese a least the twits have stopped since 3 crushing defeats in a row.

RG13's picture

I don't care for Nakamura's personality but do you really believe that his level is 2598? Even a very lucky 2598 player could dream of attaining a rating above 2780.

Billy Hunt's picture

Yes, that makes perfect sense. Nakamura should give up. Against both Anand and Kramnik, for example, he barely even has a winning record in classical chess.

Anonymous's picture

Dude, I just feel sorry for you. Your comments reveal nothing but enduring uninformed malevolence.

Anonymous's picture

True, Naka is completely lacking his earlier good form like during the olympiad where he could beat Kramnik, for example. Against this world class competetition, it doesn't take much of a catastrophe to go astray though, once you're feeling uncomfortable for some reason. We all don't have the slightest clue why that is, probably not even Naka himself. We will see him playing at his true high level soon I hope; in the meantime just bear with him as you would with any other brilliant chess player.

Thomas's picture

Nakamura always had wild form swings and (borrowing one of his recent tweets) "good, bad and downright ugly tournaments". For bad results see Dortmund 2011 and Tal Memorial 2011, and also the end of Reggio Emilia 2011/2012 (three consecutive losses after a 5.5/7 start).
Other players with similar form swings include Ivanchuk, Morozevich and Shirov - you never know where they will finish in a given event.
Only if Nakamura's "high level" is arbitrarily called 'true' (while a low level is considered 'false'!?), we need to search for a special explanation for his current result. But I would say high and low are two sides of the same medal.

Anonymous's picture

I second that Thomas. Actually I believe Naka has a motivational problem at times, which, if that's true would also be illustrated by his occasional slightly unfortunate tweets. Give him a break folks, he really is a decent guy. Ups and downs being part of the same medal, absolutely.

Chris's picture

that looks as resistance issue

MJul's picture

Just a bad time?

Like Carlsen in 2010 (Khanty Mansik and Bilbao).

S3's picture

Nah. AT Bilbao Carlsen was simply outclassed by better players. Nakamura isn't clearly weaker in this field.

MJul's picture

S3: If you are having bad times too, you should go to a psychologist. It's more usefull than being commenting on chess sites.

hansie's picture

Top honcho HN at rock bottom now with four losses, last three consecutive, including two to forty-year plus players .. ..

sulutas's picture

Naka lost every game after the rest day but I guess since tomorrow is another rest day, he will finish the tournament at least decently since it will give him some valuable time to sit down and bring his self-confidence back. It is not that he is a player who can lose three straight loses with no much fight in them, but it is rather he has lost his self-confidence at the moment, which deeply influences his decision-making process OTB.

Anonymous's picture

+1! Good assessment as I see it.

moontalpa's picture

I think Nakamura never had that dough that identifies every word class player. True he is a goodplayer but thats not enough and I dont think he belongs to the top 15. The reason of his losses must be psychological btu the way he treated the openings and the middlegame in this tournament was very childish if he was playing against some patzer. It might be lack of serious aproach to the game and lack of ideas . The fact that he has a big mouth doesnt help him either cuz he doesnt back it up with positive results. He is becoming a huge joke.

Anonymous's picture

Whether you believe that or not, Naka is among the top ten, even despite his currently poor form. He might also curreently just not feel good or motivated for some reason. We all know nothing. Downswings happen to every world class player. So who are you to judge him and call him a joke? I just hope you don't need that to feel better personally.

flea's picture

I was just very fair on giving my assesment on his status. I said that his 3 consecutive losses in this tournament r due to psychological reasons but besides that he isnt the kind of player that would fit in the world class category. His play is not exiting and he doesnt bring any new ideas or at least the ones he brings r expired ones. There r other players whose play is very unstable like Morozevich, Ivanchuk , Shirov , Topalov , Grichuk but i can never compare these guys to Nakamura. Their talent is imense compared to him. U shouldnt get angry just because one has a different opinion from yours.

Anonymous's picture

First, I did only get angry at your calling Nakamura getting "a huge joke".
Secondly, your prefering other players' style over Naka's is a personal choice, not more. I usually like Naka's style.
Lastly, all this evaluating "where a player belongs" is utterly pointless when based on a few games' ups and downs. Let's talk again in a year or two when Naka will among the top 3 in the world. ;-)

Michael's picture

I agree with you. Look at all the cr@ppy things he said about Caruana and even Gary K !!! However now that rapid and blitz are rated too, let him build his rating there. Too bad for him internet bullet is unrated.

Bartleby's picture

I'm not sure what happened in Nakamura's game. It looked like he has equalized (with White), at move 25 or so, and then, a few moves later, it looked really nasty with that black pawn on a3. Was it worse already when he switched off the rooks, or did he miss a better chance to put up a fight afterwards?

flea's picture

Grischuk's game was pretty exiting. I think it was home preparation till quite deep in the game.

Anonymous's picture

I don't remember a time in his career when Nakamura had 3 consecutive losses in a tournament.

sen's picture

May be nakumura doesn't value FIDE grand prix tournament,candidates matches tec.To the caliber player like Nakumara, FIDE should seriously consider to scrap wc championship cycle and invite him to play again anand. :-)

mishanp's picture

He lost the last three rounds in Reggio Emilia at the start of this year - and the third and final loss was again against Ivanchuk.

Jambow's picture

Nakamura blah blah blah, there were goofballs saying the same things about Carlsen about a year and a half ago too. Nakamura has maintained a top ten status for over a year unlike Morozevich, Ivanchuk and Shirov (Ivanchuk doesn't stay away long). I do think he is a little mentally soft but then this is just what he needs imho it will either send him packing or make him dig deep and fix what needs broken. When he gave the interview he was pretty distraught about losing to Gelfand and Not winning against Leko both of which should have given him an extra half point. He has some weaknesses that need fixed but todays game was close and he played well enough although he should have probably traded down to opposite colored bishops and went for the draw.

Nakamura's weakness as I see it is when he allows his opponents too much space and board control, Svidler, Wang Hoa and Carlsen are the perfect example his losses to them in recent years bare this out. This is a real flaw but that aside Nakamura is a top chess player as his abillity to stay in the top ten demonstrates. London well disaster but it happens but I doubt he will finish with a under 2600 performance.

RG13's picture

Perhaps it is also because he never plays the score? For instance Kasparov and Kramnik have demonstrated this Soviet technique of "if you suffer a loss, play for a draw in the very next game to settle yourself". Nakamura may not have any respect for Soviet technique and so he trys to win every game like he thinks his idol Fischer would do. I think that approach is a way to turn a loss into a losing streak but I would like to hear from more knowledgeable tournament players on that.

baladala's picture

Naka played for a draw against Ivanchuk, but did not succeed with that "soviet" approach.

Jambow's picture

Not needs broken needs fixed and an under 2600 not a under 2600. Sorry

Stephen Gordon's picture

If you don't like Nakamura, fine. But if you think he is a 2600 level GM you are just an idiot. He is a top ten player, no question.

And he FIGHTS. We need more like him! Come to think of it I can't think of anyone else who has beaten Anand and Kramnik in the last year

Anthony Migchels's picture

Gelfand comes to mind when thinking of people who beat Anand......

Anonymous's picture

@Stehen Gordon: Jambow did not say that. He was just referring to Naka's London tournament performance rating, this being as temporary as a raindrop on a hot stone.

Nouki's picture

No Question about Top 10 ? I don't think you are right with this Stephen :)
However, there is no question about the fact that he is a fighter and can beat anybody because he is pushing in every game.
"Judging" Naka's level because of his results in London is of course stupid, but maybe it's possible argue about his chess approach and his
"behaviour" towards his oppponents..
In my opinion he is a very strong player, but not yet a World Class Player !

Anonymous's picture

You definitely should re-assess your concept of "world class". I personally would say that at the VERY least, players around Elo 2700 must be considered genuine world class players. Furthermore, if you doubt Nakamura's belonging to the very elite of world class players, also there I clearly disagree with you. Naka will be among the top 5 at least in the future for many, many years to come. Even you will believe it then.

sen's picture

i think nakamura's is top 15 player. He has not proved himself consistently to be called as top 5 player.once in a while he might perform in a tournament but he will never be a top 5 player.Top players are mentally strong, they loose less and it will be difficult for other players to defeat them.I don't see nakamura in that category.Never a great warrior underestimate his openents ,but nakamura always do some loose talking like mentioning last wc matches was boring not between strong players.Atleast now he should realize where he stands , he has lot to do work atleast compete in this level.

cmling's picture

Let's just say Naka will bear watching. I think it is not yet clear where the future will lead him. I wish him well, if only because he is truly devoted to our game.

Excalibur's picture

I agree, his real level is 2730+

Chris's picture

2730+: 2800 > 2730

KingTal's picture

What the heck´s with Nakamura, he should tweet about the reasons for this crappy performance the last days, his fans surely are curious.

MW's picture

Naka is deflating like a cheap blowup doll... not that I would know of course.

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

How much did it cost you to make this pathetic remark? Would you dare telling him that personally if you ever met him? Let me guess ... oh you're a cheap blowup doll producer, sorry then ;-)

MW's picture

I sir only produce, and use, the finest quality blowup dolls ;-)

Anthony Migchels's picture

Lol, people sure love to hate naka, haha.....
But why did he play such a hopeless opening, and why did he lose such a non exciting ending?

Of course chuky is brilliant, but even he cannot make something out of nothing without the opponent's help.

MW's picture

Maybe Naka's morale has sunk to the point where he has lost the will to fight. Couple that with having to face Chucky today, a player he has a poor record against, and maybe that was a recipe for a pitiful loss.

valg321's picture

he's an easy guy to hate

Chris's picture

hate is a feature of an hating person not hated

Chris's picture

hate is a feature of an hating person not hated one

purplecalx's picture

All this talk of Nakamura. Doesn't anyone think it noteworthy that Gelfand is leading with 3 rounds to go!

Thomas's picture

+1 - I wonder if the player in last place would get nearly as much attention if it was Ivanchuk or Grischuk (both also had such tournaments). If it was Gelfand (who also had such tournaments) people would just say "see he isn't WCh material". As it is Nakamura (who also had such tournaments before) people speculate about physical illness or other non-chessic reasons.


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