Beautiful Epaulette Mate – Nakamura vs Solak – King’s Indian Attack (2012 Chess Olympiad)

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2012 World Chess Olympiad, Istanbul Turkey

Round 7

USA — Turkey

GM Hikaru Nakamura 2778 – GM Dragan Solak 2599

After drawn matches with China, India and Croatia, the US had dropped a bit off the pace. However, with the other heavy-weights slugging it out, the US drew the lower rated host country Turkey. Led by superstar Nakamura’s light square ballet on board one, the US racked up wins on the first three boards to propel them back into medal contention.

Hikaru started with the unpretentious 1.g3 and from there play steered towards a King’s Indian Attack. With 6.Nh4 and 7.Nxg6 he tracked down the black light square bishop. Instead of 10…Qc7 and 11…0-0-0, Black opted for a defensive setup with 10…e5 and 11…Bc5, which gave White a “free advantage” of the bishop pair. Once Black committed to kingside castling, Hikaru’s 13.h4 and 14.Bh3 seized absolute control of the h3-c8 diagonal. Hikaru patiently nudged forward with 15.Kg2, 16.Ng5, 17.a3 and 18.Bd2 connecting his rooks.

Black exchange a pair of knights with 19…Nxg5 20.Bxg5, but then committed a defensive error with 20…Qc7? Hikaru pounced on the opportunity to open the black kingside with 21.h5! and 22.Bxf6. Hikaru showed “delayed gratification” by mobilizing his rook and recouping the h5 pawn with 24.Rh1 and 25.Rxh5. Black attempted to neutralize the h-file with 25…Rh8 and 26…Rdg8, but Hikaru’s 26.g4!, 27.Kf3! and 28.Ra-h1 pushed the black rooks off the g & h-file. Further LIGHT SQUARE penetration with 29.Rh7 and 30.Qc4! led to the sweet epaulette – 31.Qe6 mate!

PGN:

[Event “Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “Istanbul TUR”]
[Date “2012.09.04”]
[EventDate “2012.08.28”]
[Round “7.7”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Hikaru Nakamura”]
[Black “Dragan Solak”]
[ECO “A07”]
[WhiteElo “2778”]
[BlackElo “2599”]
[PlyCount “62”]

1. g3 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. d3 Bf5 5. O-O e6 6. Nh4 Bg6 7. Nxg6 hxg6 8. Nd2
Nbd7 9. e4 dxe4 10. dxe4 e5 11. Qe2 Bc5 12. Nf3 Qc7 13. h4 O-O 14. Bh3 Rfe8 15.
Kg2 Nf8 16. Ng5 Rad8 17. a3 Qe7 18. Bd2 N8h7 19. Rae1 Nxg5 20. Bxg5 Qc7 21. h5
gxh5 22. Bxf6 gxf6 23. Bf5 Kf8 24. Rh1 Ke7 25. Rxh5 Rh8 26. g4 Rdg8 27. Kf3 Rd8
28. Reh1 Rhf8 29. Rh7 Qa5 30. Qc4 Qb5 31. Qe6# 1-0

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