Hikaru Nakamura vs Vladimir Kramnik – 2012 World Chess Olympiad

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2012 World Chess Olympiad, Istanbul Turkey -Round 9

USA — Russian Federation

GM Hikaru Nakamura 2778 – GM Vladimir Kramnik 2797

The match Amercians had been waiting for as Team USA faced the powerful Russian Chess Federation team which features three players rated 2750+.

On board one, American Superstar Hikaru Nakamura with White pieces faced Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik in a Symmetrical Fianchetto Gruenfeld defense. Kramnik played the super solid 7…Ne4 and 8…Nxc3. Hikaru responded with 9.bxc3 accepting a backward pawn on the half-open c-file, and then followed with 10.Nd2 and 11.e4 to try for some initiative. Kramnik completely neutralized White’s attempts with 10…e6 and Nb8-c6-a5 forcing the white queens to retreat to d1. Kramnik then unveiled the novelty 13…Qc7 attacking Hikaru’s c3-pawn. After a few toggles back and forth — White playing Ba3-b4-a3 and Black playing Na5-c6-a5 etc — the critical moment of the match and possibly the whole Olympiad arrived as Hikaru could have repeated the position and claimed a draw by repetition. Instead, with the US trailing in match points, Hikaru made the gutsy decision to keep the game alive by6 accepting an inferior position with 23.Nb1(!!?). From a theoretical point of view he boxed in his rook on a1 and the black forces were beautifully mobilized. Hikaru was eventually rewarded for his bold gamble as Kramnik failed to press the queenside momentum with 23…Nc4 (!) and instead played the slower 23…b5?! After 26.Qe2! and 27.Nd2, the White pieces were starting to mobilize behind his strong center. Kramnik made the practical and excellent decision to sacrifice the exchange with 27…Rxc5. When Hikaru passed on 29.Nb3, and instead wnet kingside with 29.Nf3, Kramnik had full compensation for the exchange after 29…Qxc5. Hikaru hurled his h-pawn at the black kingside with 31.h5 and was immediately rewarded when Kramnik uncorked the howler 31…g5??? (Note 31…Qxc3 was totally adequate for Black). Hikaru immediately pounced on the golden opportunity with the temporary pawn sacrifice 32.h6! Bxh6 and 33.Qh5! recouping his pawn and exposing the black kingside. After 35.Ng4 the black king was coming under attack and Kramnik offered the exchange of queens with 35…Qe7. In the exchange up endgame, Hikaru’s 37.a4 activated his a1 rook and targeted the pickings along the a-file. With 37…d4, 39…d3 and 40…d2, Kramnik placed all his hopes on his passed d-pawn, but Hikaru kept it firmly blockaded and maintained his decisive material advantage. Eventually Kramnik had three far advanced passed central pawns, but Hikaru’s p[assed c-pawn under-promoted to a knight with check to give White two extra knights and kill the black counter-play. In the final act, Hikaru collects the black pawn on d2 and then dances on the light squares to weave a mating net over the black king on h1!

With Gata Kamsky’s perseverance in a R+B ending versus Grischuk on Board two, the US Team scored a crucial victory in the drive for the gold!!


[Event “Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “Istanbul TUR”]
[Date “2012.09.06”]
[EventDate “2012.08.28”]
[Round “9.1”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Hikaru Nakamura”]
[Black “Vladimir Kramnik”]
[ECO “A05”]
[WhiteElo “2778”]
[BlackElo “2797”]
[PlyCount “160”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. c4 c6 5. d4 d5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Qb3
Nxc3 9. bxc3 O-O 10. Nd2 e6 11. e4 Nc6 12. O-O Na5 13. Qd1 Qc7 14. Qf3 b6 15.
Ba3 Rd8 16. e5 Ba6 17. Rfe1 Rac8 18. Bb4 Bh6 19. Qd1 Nc6 20. Ba3 Na5 21. Bb4 Nc6
22. Ba3 Na5 23. Nb1 b5 24. h4 Nc6 25. Bc5 Qb8 26. Qe2 Na5 27. Nd2 Rxc5 28. dxc5
Qc8 29. Nf3 Qxc5 30. Nh2 Bg7 31. h5 g5 32. h6 Bxh6 33. Qh5 Bg7 34. Qxg5 Nc6 35.
Ng4 Qe7 36. Qxe7 Nxe7 37. a4 d4 38. axb5 Bxb5 39. Rxa7 d3 40. Rxe7 d2 41. Rd1
Be2 42. Ne3 Bxe5 43. c4 h5 44. Ra7 h4 45. Ra2 Bxd1 46. Nxd1 hxg3 47. fxg3 Bxg3
48. c5 f5 49. Ra7 e5 50. c6 e4 51. Bh3 Rc8 52. Ra6 Rf8 53. Ra5 f4 54. Kf1 e3 55.
Ke2 Rf6 56. Ra8+ Kg7 57. Ra7+ Rf7 58. Rb7 Kf6 59. Kf3 Re7 60. Rxe7 Kxe7 61. c7
e2 62. c8=N+ Kf6 63. Kxe2 Ke5 64. Nb6 Kd4 65. Bg2 Be1 66. Nd5 Ke5 67. Nb4 Bh4
68. Nd3+ Kf5 69. Kxd2 Kg4 70. Ke2 Bf6 71. N1f2+ Kg3 72. Bf3 Bd8 73. Ne4+ Kh4 74.
Ne5 Bc7 75. Ng6+ Kh3 76. Ne7 Bd8 77. Nf5 Bb6 78. Kf1 Kh2 79. Bg4 f3 80. Nh4 1-0

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