Third Time's a Charm: Nakamura Wins the Korchnoi Zurich Challenge

Hikaru Nakamura after winning the 2017 Gibraltar Open. Photo: John Saunders
After winning the exceptionally strong Gibraltar Open for the third consecutive time in February, Hikaru Nakamura has now also managed to win the Zurich Chess Challenge three years in a row. The event featured an opening blitz tournament, a "new classical" (game in 45 minutes with a 30 second increment) segment, and a blitz finish. Against a field that included two former World Champions, Vishwanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, Nakamura finished in 1st for all three formats! Here are a few key tactical moments from the event.

Tactic #1

Level: Warm-Up

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Boris Gelfand

White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn]
[White "Hikaru Nakamura"]
[Black "Boris Gelfand"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A30"]
[WhiteElo "2793"]
[BlackElo "2724"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/3PB3/2K5/b6k/8/3B1p2/3n4/8 w - - 0 71"]
[PlyCount "3"]
[EventDate "2017.04.12"]71. Bb4 $1 {wins Black's knight:} Bd8 (71... Bxb4 $4 72. d8=Q) 72. Bxd2 {
Gelfand resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]

Tactic #2

Level: Intermediate

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi

How did Nakamura seal the victory against the clear 2nd place finisher, Nepomniachtchi?
White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn]
[White "Hikaru Nakamura"]
[Black "Ian Nepomniachtchi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A48"]
[WhiteElo "2793"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6k1/1qb3pp/p1Q1p3/PrB1P3/1PR2P2/6P1/6K1 w - - 0 35"]
[PlyCount "7"]
[EventDate "2017.04.13"]35. Bb5 $1 {winning another pawn by force and simplifying into a winning
endgame. Black resigned. If} Qxc5+ 36. Rxc5 Bxb5 (36... Ba8 37. Rxe5) 37. Rxb5
Rd4 (37... Rxb5 38. axb5 {and the passed b-pawn will promote.}) 38. Rxa5 1-0[/pgn]

Tactic #3

Level: Advanced

[pgn]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Oparin, Grigoryi"]
[Result "?"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r4rk1/3nbppp/p1pppn2/8/2PPb3/BqN2NP1/3QPPBP/R4RK1 w - - 0 16"]
[PlyCount "4"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]{Here, Nakamura played} 16. Ne5 $1 {setting up a slew of interesting tactics.
After} dxe5 17. Bxe7 {What did Nakamura intend if Black played} Bxg2 $2 *[/pgn]
Show Solution
[pgn]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Oparin, Grigoryi"]
[Result "?"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r4rk1/3nBppp/p1p1pn2/4p3/2PP4/1qN3P1/3QPPbP/R4RK1 w - - 0 18"]
[PlyCount "3"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]{Seemingly out of nowhere, White's best target is on the queenside.} 18. Rfb1
$1 Qxc4 19. Rb4 {traps Blacks queen.} * [/pgn]
For more information, visit the Zurich Chess Challenge Website.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Who is that fellow in the photo with Naka?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

His stepfather, FIDE Master Sunil Weeramantry.

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