The Showdown: Nakamura vs. Caruana

NakaCaruanaLeadFor many years, Hikaru Nakamura has been the undisputed highest ranked player in the country. He’s the reigning US Champion and has won the championship four times total. He’s had the highest FIDE and US Chess ratings of any American since 2009.

This year, however, Nakamura has some competition. Fabiano Caruana recently transferred federations from Italy to USA, making him the only other American player to have broken a 2800 FIDE rating. Additionally, with his dazzling performance at the SInquefield Cup in 2014, he’s proven that he’s capable of anything.

Ever since Caruana decided to call St. Louis his home (incidentally, Nakamura also resides in St. Louis), the question has been in the air: What would happen in a match between the two?

This week, the question will be answered.

The two will compete in an exhibition match, The Showdown, playing 18 games over the course of the next four days (November 12-15). The match will include rapid, blitz, basque, and fischer random games. There will be no classical chess games.

While the two are fairly closely ranked in classical and rapid chess, Nakamura has a significant edge in overall game score and blitz ranking.

  Hikaru NakamuraFabiano Caruana 
ClassicalFIDE Rating2793 2787
World Rank56
US Chess Rating28992867
US Rank12
Score5 wins (21%)1 win (4 %)18 Draws (75%)
RapidFIDE Rating28422829
World Rank23
Score2 wins (67%)1 win (33%)
BlitzFIDE Rating28842665
World Rank184
Score8 wins (80%)1 win (10%)1 Draw (10%)

Can you solve a tactic from their game at Tata Steel in 2013?

Tactic #1

Caruana vs. Nakamura

Black to move.

How did Nakamura turn this seemingly equal ending into a win?

The game continued: 56. Rd1 Rf8 Because the h-pawn is again immune to capture, it soon turns into a dangerous passed pawn. 57. Kd3 h2 58. Rh1
White seems to have stopped the pawn. Now what?

Black to move.

During Caruana’s spectacular winning streak at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, he won an elegant positional game against Nakamura. It was Caruana’s 5th straight win.

Additionally, Yifan Hou and Parimarjan Negi, both in the top 100 in the world, will play an exhibition match in the same format.

Hou has a rating edge, but Negi has a slight edge in overall game score.

  Yifan HouParimarjan Negi 
ClassicalFIDE Rating26832664
World Rank6180
Score2 wins (40%)1 win (20%)2 Draws (40%)
RapidFIDE Rating26252613
BlitzFIDE Rating27042613
World Rank48>100

Can you find Hou’s clever maneuver to win a pawn in this rook endgame?

Endgame #1

Hou vs. Parimarjan

Here is Negi’s attacking victory against Hou in 2011:

 Watch live games and commentary from GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade, and GM Maurice Ashley at www.uschesschamps.com, starting today at 1 P.M. CST.

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