Reports | October 06, 2011 23:04

Masters Final R6: Ivanchuk beats Nakamura, increases lead

Masters Final R6: Ivanchuk beats Nakamura, increases lead

After declining his opponent's offer to postpone their game (because of the Sao Paulo robbery) Vassily Ivanchuk defeated Hikaru Nakamura on Thursday in Bilbao, Spain. The Ukrainian scored 13/6 and increased his lead to 6 points, the same as two full wins. As the other two games ended in draws, the second place is now shared by Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen who have 7 points. Local hero Francisco Vallejo is three points behind this group.

Event 4th Grand Slam Masters Final  | PGN via TWIC
Dates September 25th - October 11th, 2011
Location Sao Paulo, Brazil & Bilbao, Spain
System 6-player double round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Vallejo
Time control 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment per move from move number 41
Prizes Undisclosed
Notes Players are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with the technical assistant. The football scoring system is used: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Games round 6

The Ivanchuk saga of this year's Grand Slam Masters Final took a new and positive course on Thursday: only arriving in Bilbao a day before, without his wife, without his favourite pocket chess set and probably with a considerable jet lag, Vassily Ivanchuk was still the only player who scored a win the 6th round. In yet another crazy time scramble, his opponent Hikaru Nakamura committed a big blunder and would later tweet:

Not upset about losing today's game, but if time controls leading to these absurd blunders are more important than quality...

It's true that the time control in the Masters Final is quicker than usual: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, plus 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment per move from move number 41. Especially that last part is relevant because in the FIDE time control there's 30 seconds increment from move one. The players have only one and a half hours to reach move 40, which explains the sometimes quite big mistakes that occur every year.

It must be said that Ivanchuk had Nakamura on the ropes earlier in the game:

PGN string

A 6-point lead for Ivanchuk, with 4 rounds to go

The return game between the world's highest rated player and the World Champion ended in a draw, like the first one. Carlsen and Anand played an old variation of the Nimzo-Indian that was also seen in a 2009 blitz game between Carlsen and Nakamura. A queenless middlegame was reached at move 19 where the only difference was a doubled f-pawn for Black, which wasn't enough to cause much trouble.

PGN string

Another draw between the world's top players

At the opening ceremony Francisco Vallejo declared that he's intending to do better than in the first half, and he already fulfilled his promise. Where he was outplayed by Aronian last week, the Spaniard had the best chances this time, especially in the opening phase. An irregular move order led to a Queen's Gambit Accepted and no doubt Vallejo will look at the first 15 moves some more, because somehow it seems like White had an advantage somewhere.

PGN string

Commentator Leontxo Garcia with Paco Vallejo and Levon Aronian

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 1 26.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 6 06.10.11 16:00 CET
Nakamura ½-½ Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk 1-0 Nakamura
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Anand
Aronian 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo ½-½ Aronian
Round 2 27.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 7 07.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Ivanchuk
Carlsen ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Anand   Anand - Nakamura
Round 3 28.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 8 08.10.11 16:00 CET
Anand 0-1 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk - Anand
Aronian ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura - Aronian
Vallejo 1-0 Carlsen   Carlsen - Vallejo
Round 4 30.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 9 10.10.11 16:00 CET
Aronian 0-1 Ivanchuk   Carlsen - Ivanchuk
Vallejo 0-1 Anand   Vallejo - Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian - Anand
Round 5 01.10.11 20:00 CET   Round 10 11.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 0-1 Carlsen   Ivanchuk - Aronian
Nakamura 1-0 Vallejo   Anand - Vallejo
Anand ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura - Carlsen

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 6 Standings (football)

1  Vassily Ivanchuk 13
2-5  Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian,
Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen 7
6  Francisco Vallejo 4

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 6 Standings (classical)


The glass cube in the Alhondiga Bilbao during the 6th round...

...with commentary taking place right next to it.

On Thursday Levon Aronian turned 29 (photo Macauley Peterson)

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.


AlvaroFrota's picture

What an attack!!!

champak's picture

he will still be leader if he loses next two games

Abhi's picture

Local hero Francisco Vallejo is two --> THREE points behind this group

tanc's picture

Oh dear me, Nakamura is having a go at the time controls implemented by the organisers on his twitter.

"Not upset about losing today's game, but if time controls leading to these absurd blunders are more important than quality..." - Naka's tweet.

Pomonado's picture

I like how more serious his play is but blaming the end on time control? Nakamura should get in line about blundering in zeitnot when you're UNDER PRESSURE. That waiting line for both amateurs and pros wanting to file a complain is quite long

Knallo's picture

Isn't Naka just about the best player in the world with no reasonable time on the clock? Maybe not, it seems.

foo's picture

no shi.. ;)

RealityCheck's picture

No, Naka's not. Grischuk is.

jo's picture
Rodzjer's picture

... In the classical scores Chucky's supremacy is only more apparent.

So, stop moaning please :P

jo's picture

duh! that's my point

Solomon Francis's picture

I would feel sorry for Nakamura but I probably feel more sorry for Vallejo, who has to play Chucky next round!

jo's picture

oops thats not my point - your reply makes no sense

Chess Fan's picture

Wow, Chucky's attack was BRILLIANT reminiscent of Fisher. And to think I was ill-advised enough to think sometime back that Chucky cannot play with the best. Guess age cannot wither someone this brilliant. What a pleasure to see him play like this!

Estragon's picture

Ivanchuk is the same age as Anand, so he is not so old. Some wrote him off in 2009 when he had a rough run and dropped to 2702 and 30th in the world, others said he was playing too much and needed to rest. He even threatened to retire after blowing his World Cup match badly to Wesley So. Ivanchuk ignored all the advice and kept a very hectic schedule of serious tournaments even though the modern time controls are much faster than those he came up playing, and has moved straight back up the charts, now at #5 on the live list.

Daniel's picture

Amazing Chucky! Hope he keeps this pace until the end

Rob's picture

I think Nakamura was short on time because he had a difficult position. It just looked like a good game of Ivanchuk.

Estragon's picture

Yes, he had been ahead on the clock until he got into trouble with ...Nc6-e7.

Ben's picture

I've never laughed so hard at a chess game out of pure enjoyment than I did with today's game Ivanchuk vs. Nakamura. That was pure 19th-century swashbuckling at its finest!

Bob's picture

Marvellous swashbuckling, yes. Great game

Siva's picture

Nakamura should stop tweeting; he comes across as a poor amateur whiner who is never able to credit his opponents. They should let him go back to play Bullets on ICC..

Estragon's picture

He's a young guy who had a meteoric rise, and has done well upon entering the world of elite tournaments so far, including winning Corus (but didn't have a plus record against the next five places, storing up points from the bottom of the table), and believes himself a legitimate contender for the title in the near future. The temptation to find an excuse has a noble pedigree in chess - at least 200 years, probably longer.

Nimzowitsch was notoriously picky about conditions, perhaps the most particular until Fischer, and complained about everything. The room was too hot, too cold, there was a draft, there was no fresh air (AC was not yet common in those days), the lights glared or weren't bright enough, etc., etc. One particular organizer was a fan of his, and made every effort to meet all of Nimzowitsch's conditions and preferences down to sets and chairs. He invited the Latvian to inspect the premises before accepting his invitation.

Nimzowitsch reportedly refused, as he would have no way to explain a loss!

Twitter is so named because it tends to make twits of its users.

pat j's picture

yep, agree 100%

guest01's picture

now that vallejo is in his courtyard will he start winning games.

Me's picture

Interesting thing to note;
Anand, Aronian, Nakamura, all secured a win against Vallejo, and lost against Ivanchuk. I enjoyed the symmetry of the situation..!

Sarunas's picture

Of course, Ivanchuk -Naka is a highlight of the round. One shouldn't forget though that White took considerable risks with 8.Nb3, then a mad no-come-back sequence p.g4-g5-f6, later White queen got horrendously stuck on h6 with hands tied and on moves 25 through 35 Naka had plenty of room for striking a counterblow. I can suggest 29...B:p, if 30.R:g6 then Rd1+ 31.Kf2 Qf5+, or 2) 30.Nd3 (game) R:N!? (30...Q:p 31.Bb2)31.p:R Q:p 32.Bf8 Qe1+ 33.Rf1 Qe3+ 34.Rf2 with perpetual.
In the end Fortune just favored brave.

Hughbertie's picture
redivivo's picture

It's almost as fun to read Mig's bitter tweets after Ivanchuk outplayed Nakamura:

"a great event deserves a classical time control"

"barely worth calling chess at all. Draws and wins passing by every move. A shame"

"Such an elite event needs elite chess!"

"With just seconds each analysis is pretty pointless. Sad. 40/2hr please!"

"Pity about the time control"

Etc etc etc etc

Hughbertie's picture

lol redivivo...
Well Mig sums up US chess and is considered a terrible and very annoying broadcaster of chess by the majority. Thats why ICC dumped him, hes hopless.
Its the only criticism I have of the The King Kasaparov..........dealing with that foolish american.

Johnny's picture

I don't mind if you denigrate or even despise certain individuals, but please tone down the ubiquitous hatred of USA. It is silly to characterize a nation of 300 million people based on your opinion of two individuals. Thank you.

Me's picture

I completely agree with you. Actually I noticed before that Nakamura is that type of person. I just don't know a single word that would characterize this Nakamura type of people, but I can see that type of people here and there in life, disgusting individuals who always find some excuses to please their supreme arrogance.

Chessfan's picture

Doesn't sound too bad to me :/(Naka's tweet)

columbo's picture

Nakamura is so full of himself that a prickle would make him explode

Raj's picture

Very happy for Vassily Ivanchuk! True champion material. Finally the results are showing. He would have been a worthy contender for the World Championship title against Vishy Anand.

redivivo's picture

Yes, he's a great player with great results against top players like Anand and Kramnik the last decade.

ebutaljib's picture

At the moment definitely. He plays brilliantly. But things will change and he will be in hole again - losing to opponents he shouldn't have. Thats simply how Ivanchuk is - unpredictable.

Chess Fan's picture

True. That is unfortunately how Chucky is. Part of his genius package I guess.
I still cannot get over his manhandling of a player of Nakamura's caliber when I have barely recovered from the shock of Chuky beating the World Champion (whose unconditional loyal fan I am and will always be) with black pieces.

Chess Fan's picture

Chucky Vs. Anand? Both are geniuses, but I would give the psychological edge to Chucky. But then again, I would not bet against Anand in a World Championship match right now. I have long picked again against ANYONE (yes, even Aronian) till 2012 (inclusive).
So, yes, if they both play to their full strength, it could possibly be one of the most creative tournaments of all time. We can only hope. Also, if Chucky does not deserve a legitimate chance at a proper World Championship match, who else does?!

Jaideepblue's picture

Anand and Ivanchuk HAVE played a match. It was in 1992 and Anand won 5-3.

redivivo's picture

They played a match in 2001 as well (FIDE World Championship) and then Ivanchuk won +1 -0 =3.

Chess Fan's picture

That is the psychological edge about Chucky that I alluded to. Chucky outplayed Anand psychologically in that match, something that was not expected of Anand since we thought he learnt from his loss to Kasparov in 1995.
Thankfully, Anand has showed nerves of steel since then.

Chess Fan's picture

Anand also played a nice Ruy Lopez to beat Chucky in the 1987 World Junior Championship that he won. A game with similar starting moves to the game that he played in this tournament to lose to Chucky, when Chucky played F5 with black.
I am just saying that a World Championship match right now between these two creative genuises would be great for us chess fans and it would be a chess match of the highest quality.

Sergio's picture

It is great to see Ivanchuk play so well. Especially after all that is happend, I would have thought he would have found it very difficult to concentrate.

Sarunas's picture

Brilliant attack by Vassily, though 22.g4 seems too committing to me. Being White I would have chickened out with 22.Rff3, for.ex. 22...Qc6 23.Ne6! B:B 24.Q:p + N:Q 25.R:N+ K:R 26.Rh3 curtains. But as I've said, Fortune always favors the brave.

chessdrummer's picture

No matter what comments Nakamura makes, bloggers will find something wrong. If he said, "Ivanchuk played well and won a nice game," fans would say, "He understated that. How arrogant!" This is the type of endless stereotype you read about Nakamura. Of course he makes some comments that are better kept off the twittersphere, but characterizing every statement he makes (even when genuine) is getting a bit old.

Chess Fan's picture

I think Nakamura is hated as an Amercian more than for the tweet that he made. It comes with the territory.
I like Nakamura and his style of chess. It just worked against him against a genius. I do not think he is whining. That a tweet of a young guy who doesn't like to lose. Even againt Chucky ;-)

pat j's picture

naka is the king of excuses. he is the only person i have ever seen get booed at a closing ceremony. no one likes you naka, it is cause of your obnoxious actions.

Septimus's picture

Crying about time controls reflects rather poorly on Nakamura. No need to make excuses. Just suck it up and try harder. Having said that, it is quite possible that he is really frustrated with his performance and just had to vent. Just a normal human reaction.

It was not a perfect game by any means as Ivanchuck also missed a few "wins" on earlier moves. Regardless, normal spectators like us had fun!

Finally guys, how about ceasing the USA bashing? It is getting a bit out of hand. Don't make me dust off my flamethrower. :)

Guillaume's picture

USA bashing getting out of hand? I see only one post criticizing Nakamura's tweet and connecting it to his being American (Hughbertie's post). You guys are beating a straw man.

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