London Chess Classic 2013 Super-16 Rapid: Hikaru Nakamura beats Boris Gelfand to win Title
Twenty-six-year-old American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has won the 5th London Chess Classic 2013, staged this year as a rapid chess tournament and billed 'the Super-Sixteen Rapid'. Nakamura defeated former World Chess Championship Challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel 1½-½ in the final.
As the world number four on the FIDE Rating List for classical chess, and number three at rapid chess, Nakamura's result was far from being a surprise but it was a significant achievement in the career of a remarkable player who must be a leading contender to threaten Magnus Carlsen’s world crown in the next few years.
Hikaru’s progression through the competition was impressive. He scored +2, =4, -0 in the preliminary phase, and then improved that to +3, =3, -0 against sterner opposition in the knock-out phase. To go through without a loss was a clear sign of strength. His toughest moment was when he came close to elimination in his second semi-final game with Vladimir Kramnik but he showed an amazing resilience in first holding the former world champion at bay and then taking advantage of Kramnik’s evident state of confusion to finish the match off with a win.
In the final match against Boris Gelfand, Hikaru showed the courage of his convictions by going straight for an ultra-sharp tactic in the opening against a player who had hitherto proved himself the best defender in the event, and also at this time control in world championship qualifiers. They say ‘fortune favours the brave’ and Hikaru’s conquest of this elite rapid chess event backs that up.
Nakamura 1½-½ Gelfand
Hikaru's 10.Ng5 is quite a double-edged move but Boris avoided the standard continuation 10...Nb6 by playing instead 10...Nc6. Hikaru's response was brave and speculative – 11.Nxf7!? – a move we all like to play against a castled king, whatever level we play at.
Hikaru may not have been entirely confident of his chances as he thought for nine minutes about his 16th move: quite a big chunk of his allotted 25 minutes. However, within a few moves, the initiative seemed to have shifted back to the American after Boris played the dubious 17...Ne4. "He's blown it," exclaimed GM Julian Hodgson, perhaps a little melodramatically. Then, calming down slightly, "I think Hikaru's over the worst now – he'll survive."
More solid moves followed from Hikaru and Boris had to resign.
Game 2 - draw
What a gripping competition! Thanks to Malcolm Pein and his team for their hard work, the players for their wonderful chess, and to everyone at home and at the venue for being a great audience. See you all again this time next year! (Report by John Saunders)
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