Reports | June 17, 2013 17:41

Nakamura wins again, grabs sole lead at Tal Memorial

Hikaru Nakamura is the sole leader after four rounds at the Tal Memorial in Moscow. On Monday the American grandmaster scored his third straight victory with Black in a Najdorf against Fabiano Caruana, while all other games ended in draws.

All photos © Lennart Ootes

After the first rest day the tournament continued on Monday. Before we get to that, it's interesting to note the remarks from two players about what they did on Sunday. Magnus Carlsen said with a smile:

I was out in the sun for too long and I got a headache so that was not a good idea!

Vishy Anand answered a question about physical preparation by explaining that he does more before a tournament than during, because "you might be fit, but tired during the game". And then he revealed that in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where the players are staying, another famous sportsman is staying:

It was nice that during the rest day I was working out in the gym together with Goran Ivanisevic!

Despite the fresh energy among the players, the fourth round was the most quiet one so far with four draws. The first game to finish was Andreikin-Carlsen, a bit of a strange Symmetrical English that became very tactical after only a few moves. The players could make use of some of the ideas from a line with reversed colours, as Carlsen pointed out at the press conference.

White must have had an edge somewhere; perhaps it was 8.Bc4 which the players didn't analyze? In any case, after thirteen moves Black's opening problems were over and for the rest of the game it was just equal.

PGN string

Not long after, Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand also drew their game. It was a continuation of the theoretical battle in the 3.Bb5 e6 Sicilian which started in May last year between the same players in Moscow. Meanwhile, Gelfand also had it on the board against Carlsen and Svidler, so the Israeli can be considered the biggest expert in this area! He came out of the opening with almost equality, and after one inaccurate move by Anand on move 23 Black was OK.

PGN string

Vishy Anand interviewed after the game

The next player on stage in the commentary room was Hikaru Nakamura, who defeated Fabiano Caruana to take sole lead in the tournament! His opening choice was logical:

I thought I'd play the Najdorf. I think Fabiano lost about four or five games in a row against the Najdorf, so it made sense.

Nakamura was the first to deviate from Caruana's loss against Leinier Dominguez in Thessaloniki, and reached a position where it was much easier to find the moves for Black than for White. Caruana spent a lot of time on the clock trying to find the best plan, but with small mistakes on moves 22 and 24 he got himself into some trouble. When he allowed 28...b5 it was getting more difficult, especially with only five minutes left on the clock. Nakamura's accurate 34...Bb6! was decisive.

PGN string

At the press conference, Nakamura said about his new second Arthur Kogan:

In general, he's a very positive person. Anytime you have positive influences around you it's very good. in the past I have perhaps been more negative than I am now. It's good to have such people around!

Hikaru Nakamura: a positive tournament leader

Caruana now back to the world's #4 spot in the live ratings

The draw between Russians Alexander Morozevich and Vladimir Kramnik seemed like a quiet affair, but at the press conference it became clear how many hidden variations there were (and how much the players had seen!). Most of the lines have been added to the annotations and are co-produced by Morozevich and Kramnik.

PGN string

The last draw, between Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, deserves attention as well because of the amazing double pawn sacrifice by the Azerbaijani in a Pirc. Black's long-term compensation was a bit similar to the Benko Gambit or the Marshall Attack; it was probably always enough. White players probably need to look for improvements early in the game.

PGN string

Tomorrow's fifth round includes what will probably be the last classical game between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand, before they will meet each other in November in Chennai to fight for the world title. Having White, the Norwegian will surely be trying to win and to be able to pack some extra confidence in his cabin luggage on the flight to India!

Tal Memorial 2013 | Results & pairings

Round 1 13:00 CET 13.06.13   Round 2 13:00 CET 14.06.13
Andreikin ½-½ Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Mamedyarov
Anand 0-1 Caruana   Kramnik 0-1 Nakamura
Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen
Carlsen 1-0 Kramnik   Caruana 0-1 Gelfand
Nakamura 0-1 Mamedyarov   Andreikin ½-½ Anand
Round 3 13:00 CET 15.06.13   Round 4 13:00 CET 17.06.13
Anand 1-0 Morozevich   Morozevich ½-½ Kramnik
Gelfand ½-½ Andreikin   Karjakin ½-½ Mamedyarov
Carlsen 0-1 Caruana   Caruana 0-1 Nakamura
Nakamura 1-0 Karjakin   Andreikin ½-½ Carlsen
Mamedyarov ½-½ Kramnik   Anand ½-½ Gelfand
Round 5 13:00 CET 18.06.13   Round 6 13:00 CET 19.06.13
Gelfand - Morozevich   Morozevich - Karjakin
Carlsen - Anand   Caruana - Kramnik
Nakamura - Andreikin   Andreikin - Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Anand - Nakamura
Kramnik - Karjakin   Gelfand - Carlsen
Round 7 13:00 CET 21.06.13   Round 8 13:00 CET 22.06.13
Carlsen - Morozevich   Morozevich - Caruana
Nakamura - Gelfand   Andreikin - Karjakin
Mamedyarov - Anand   Anand - Kramnik
Kramnik - Andreikin   Gelfand - Mamedyarov
Karjakin - Caruana   Carlsen - Nakamura
Round 9 11:00 CET 23.06.13        
Nakamura - Morozevich        
Mamedyarov - Carlsen        
Kramnik - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Anand        
Caruana - Andreikin        

Tal Memorial 2013 | Round 4 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.


Truth's picture

Hikaru Nakamura : Caruana 2800? Over my dead body!

Anonymous's picture

Naka will cross the 2800 line, he's focused

DefconZer0's picture

Great performance by Kramnik, Carslen & Anand so far :)

redivivo's picture

Three wins in a row against 2770+ opposition for Nakamura, while the Russian players have little success at home this far, four losses and the rest draws.

Anonymous's picture

Not to mention 3 BLACK wins :O

Morley's picture

Hikaru is tearing it up. His three victories have been really great games to follow. Unique positions, complexity, fiery tactics. Awesome play so far!

Nearing the half-way point, it is kind of nuts to see Kramnik, Anand, and Carlsen with two wins between them, and four losses. Kramnik at the bottom of the table ... the Candidates must have taken a lot out of him.

Tomorrow is going to feature Carlsen-Anand. AN appetizer, if you will.

Thomas Oliver's picture

Of course calling a win from a lost position "awesome play" is debatable - fan perspective and/or annotating by the result? As Nakamura freely admitted, he couldn't have complained about a loss against Kramnik. The way he plays, he may continue to play extremely well ("nothing wrong" with his wins against Andreikin and Caruana), or collect some more losses (black against Anand and Carlsen).

It seems true that Kramnik hasn't yet recovered from the candidates event: scoring 0/2 from a drawn and a won position isn't exactly his "style". Not much can be concluded from his next two games with black (his own choice) - for the remainder of the event, he will have an extra white.

Anna's picture

So negative TO. It's clear you're so jealous of Morley you should instead try to learn some objectivity of his comments.

Thomas Oliver's picture

For a start, using the word "awesome" isn't exactly a beacon of objectivity. Morley has clear preferences for certain players (not much reason to praise Carlsen at the moment, so now it's Nakamura) - maybe you call this objective because you have the same subjective preferences?

Maybe Nakamura scored 2.5/4 on the awesomeness scale - which includes the second half of the game against Kramnik and translates to 3/4 in the standings because it was the second half of the game.

Morley's picture

I might root for different players and different times, but one thing remains the same: without fail, you wait eagerly to jump in and detract from anything and everything I say. It's comforting, in a way.

For what its worth, I have been a fan of Nakamura for years.

Morley's picture

Clawing back from a worse position, out-calculating Kramnik, and pulling in a win ... why would this not be "awesome play"?

Anonymous's picture

@ Morley

Ok it is awesome. And you are awesome. This site is awesome too. Life is awesome. Chill out.

dave_the_valiant's picture

Andreikin? Nakamura hasn't played against Andreikin yet in this tourney (unless your thinking of the Blitz portion?). After a bad loss to Mamedyarov, Nakamura has 3 straight wins against Kramnik, Karjakin, and Caruana. Where did you come up with Andrekin? Huh?

Chris's picture

It is not an art to win won position. The art is to win lost position. Nakamura showed true mastery.
Such a play is awesome for sure.

Chess Fan's picture

Thomas Oliver's chess comments are always most interesting and informing.

Vinnie's picture

LOL~ OMG that is real comedy!

Chris's picture

comments here are more interesting then the tournament :)

Vitold's picture

in the flat-earth world of this chief poluter of chessvibes, a full point counts only for some players (even if the result by an outright blunder by thier opponents) and can never fully count for others (notwithstanding what the opposition does). When will this guy get tired of hearing himself spout this specious crapola so that my friends and I can tolerate visiting this site more often?

Anonymous's picture

@ Vitold

It would not be such a bad thing if TO's comments stop people like you from visiting the site ;-)

Anonymous's picture

+3 @Vitold

Jeremy's picture

Top commentary Morley, as always.

S3's picture

Mind you, kramnik didnt want to play this tourney in the first place

Anonymous's picture

Didn't he withdraw from Stavanger precisely because he wanted to play Tal Memorial?

S3's picture

No. He felt obliged to play here for his federation.

Morley's picture

Why would he agree to play in two tournaments, months in advance, if he was going to drop out of one in favor of the other, that he didn't even want to play in to begin with?

S3's picture

Just look it up. Kramnik cancelled Norway for this one and his federation. It wasnt his first pick and not his preferred scenario. But not all chessplayers are selfish egomaniacs.

Chris's picture

Karjakin has won blitz and classic in Norway, it seems the same Nakamura will do in Russia:)

Zeblakop's picture

Looks like Andreikin had an easy game today.

Mindhunter's picture

Quite a unique cross-table at this point in the tournament! :o

RealityCheck's picture


Yip. Kasparov, Karpov, Spassky, Petrosian, Tal, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Alekhine watching in pain rolling over and over in their graves. Russia is yesterday. Bye bye Russia.

Hurr's picture

Kasparov, Karpov, and Spassky aren't dead yet. Tal and Petroisan aren't Russian.

Chris's picture

Kasparov is not Russian either.

Anonymous's picture

How is that possible? As far I know, Kasparov and Spassky have not yet been buried, they are still alive. So, how can they "...rolling over and over in their graves". Could you explain that?

Maxwell's picture

And in the meantime he should also give some explanations about "rolling over and over in their graves", why, surely dead can't do that continuously.

RealityCheck's picture


Soviet-Latvian-Armenian-Russian-Jew, all the same bag of beans when it comes to chess; from Alekhine to Kramnik. Got it?

As regards top level Russian World Champions, these guys are all dead. Has-Beens. Today nothing more than cheap tabloid news. Got it?

Maxwell, smart you seemed to be among this trio. I was disappointed when you missed the point about rolling over and over in the grave ---only the living dead can do that. Give it a try SmartAlec. Got it?

And..............Get off my case.

Chris's picture

Alekhine was neither Jew nor Soviet.
He was russian aristocrat.

Hurr's picture

Gelfand was a Soviet Jew, though, and he seems to be doing pretty good in this tournament.

RealityCheck's picture

@Hurr You're right he was a Soviet Jew and now he is an Israeli Jew. Btw, he also did very well against Anand fighting for the WC title. Russia should have worked harder to keep him.

cmling's picture

It might be noted that Alekhine won the 1st Championship of the USSR.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, Alekhine was neither Jew not Soviet. He isn't dead yet either. OK, maybe he is. Funny though that if he was alive today he would still not beat Jeanne Calment's age record. Neither would Hitler. Not intending to draw any parallels apart from age there.

RealityCheck's picture


...........all the same bag of beans when it comes to chess "schooling". You know, education.

And, Kramnik is the only former Ruissian-WC worth chess news. All the others, as I'd said, are dead. Tabloid news.

I wanted to clear this up before someone else like @Chris jumps off the deep end.

Chris's picture

Russian chess school is understood as Chigorin succession - Bogoljubov, Alekhine. Soviet chess school Botvinnik etc.

Kramnik in my opinion is not real WCh . He 'bought' the title replacing Shirov in match vs Kasparov.

RealityCheck's picture

@Chris You're entitled your opinion. Ok. But, to deny Kramnik won his WC title real or imagined is a hard pill to swallow. Far out. Hey man, do you take psychedelic drugs? Blotter acid? Mescaline? It's hard to imagine anyone thinking along your lines that just smokes pot, drinks coke, or orange juice.

As far as the Russian aka Soviet chess school is concerned, I didn't know that there were two distinct schools. I'm gonna have to look into that it could be interesting.

Anonymous's picture

@RC. Kramnik won match vs Kasparov but not the WCh title. If there was Shirov - Kasparov match then it would be WCh match.

Take your medecines you mentioned.

RealityCheck's picture

Ok. In former times I felt sorry for Shirov but when I heard that there was money on the table for the match that he rejected in search of a bigger paycheck, I thought again--so it was his stupid his mistake' his own fault not Kramnik's.

Shirov got greedy and blew his big chance.

Anonymous's picture


I like the way you keep re-defining your terms as you go along. Do you play chess the same way? ;-)

RealityCheck's picture

@Anonymous I'm not re-defining anything the terms remain the same. I was just trying to refine the train of thought. Make it clearer.

When playing chess I prefer improvisation over preparation if that's what you meant.

redivivo's picture

All Caruana's games have been black wins, he already has no less than seven losses with white this year.

Thomas Oliver's picture

And just 2/7 on the white side of the Najdorf - two draws against Anand, and even during his win against Naiditsch in Baden-Baden he was worse to lost at some stage of the game.

Anonymous's picture

Nakamura playing some kick-asz chess, heull yeah


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