The brash American kid faces the polished World Champion. Such was the contrast earlier this week when US Champion Hikaru Nakamura squared off against World Champion Viswanathan Anand at the famous Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Holland. The stage was set for the veteran to teach his young challenger a painful lesson.
Alas, that was not to be! Nakamura, playing with the black pieces, surprised his opponent on move 1 with the Dutch Defense 1.d4 f5, playing the Leningrad variation. Theory said that such a bold opening was suspicious at the highest levels, except in rapid or blitz games. The Dutch is a rare bird at the Grandmaster level. However, I beg to differ with the theoretical assessment after about ten years of experience. Apparently, so does Nakamura. In fact, he has already essayed the Dutch quite a few times in American weekend tournaments, but facing Anand is certainly a step upwards!
How did he do? Play through the game below to find out! Black chose a setup of d5, Nc6 and Ne4 to combat White's double fianchetto. The computers gave White a modest advantage around move 15, but by move 19 the pressure had dissipated. Definitely a 33 move draw with Black against a player of Anand's caliber counts as a success.
Nakamura will face more challenges at the Corus tournament. He plays against top rated Magnus Carlsen on Thursday, early leader Alexei Shirov on Saturday and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik on Sunday. Watch the games live on ICC ChessFM beginning at 4:30am PST; if you wake up at 7:00am, you'll still get to see the climax of the round.
Play online chess