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Nakamura Posts Big Score After Near Miss

Nakamura Posts Big Score After Near Miss

NathanielGreen
| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Alexey Sarana and Hikaru Nakamura are your Titled Tuesday victors for June 11, 2024. Sarana won by the thinnest of margins in the early tournament, needing the second tiebreak before his 10 points were finally determined to have earned first place ahead of Nakamura's 10 points. No such calculations were necessary for the late tournament as Nakamura put up a score of 10.5 to win by a healthy 1.5-point margin.

For Sarana, it was his second win in as many weeks, while for Nakamura, it was his second 10.5-point performance in less than a month.


Early Tournament

Sarana won his first seven games to take the lead on the field of 723 players until he was held to a draw by Nakamura in round eight. Catching up with him at that point was not Nakamura, who had also played a draw in the sixth round, but GM Javokhir Sindarov. But Sarana would dispatch him and reclaim sole first with a 33-move kingside attack as Black in the ninth round.

Sarana drew again in the 10th round, this time with GM Daniil Dubov. Now, it was Nakamura who entered a tie for first after beating GM Ian Nepomniachtchi with a 34-move kingside attack as Black (which should sound familiar to readers of the... previous paragraph).

And so things came down to the final round, where Sarana faced GM Aryan Tari while Nakamura took on GM Hans Niemann. Nakamura's decision to play the Smith-Morra Gambit with White ultimately paid off with a 44-move victory after Niemann let a knight hang out to dry on a3.

The result was not enough for Nakamura after Sarana's game against Tari. In a rook ending by move 27 and a pure king-and-pawn ending by move 36, Sarana won a promotion race after Tari's fatal misstep, 44.gxf5.

With both players on 10 points and the first tiebreak score also tied, it was a photo finish, but Sarana had done just enough to overcome the Nakamura beast. No one would be so lucky later on.

June 11 Titled Tuesday | Early | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score Tiebreak 1
1 5 GM @mishanick Alexey Sarana 3131 10 80
2 1 GM @Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 3234 10 80
3 4 GM @Duhless Daniil Dubov 3129 9.5 65
4 7 GM @FairChess_on_YouTube Dmitry Andreikin 3112 9 79.5
5 13 GM @GM_dmitrij Dmitrij Kollars 3048 9 74.5
6 10 GM @lachesisQ Ian Nepomniachtchi 3063 9 72
7 33 IM @Murad_Ibrahimli Murad İbrahimli 2995 9 71
8 18 GM @frederiksvane Frederik Svane 3012 9 68.5
9 15 GM @vi_pranav Pranav V 3031 9 66.5
10 12 GM @Msb2 Matthias Bluebaum 3043 8.5 75.5
11 17 GM @Javokhir_Sindarov05 Javokhir Sindarov 3034 8.5 73
12 2 GM @HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 3174 8.5 72.5
13 35 GM @TigrVShlyape Gata Kamsky 2976 8.5 72
14 16 GM @AryanTari Aryan Tari 3024 8.5 71.5
15 80 GM @ViIIagra Cristobal Henriquez 2890 8.5 70.5
16 62 GM @FXDon77 Xu Yi 2901 8.5 70
17 50 GM @Nitzan_Steinberg Nitzan Steinberg 2949 8.5 70
18 20 GM @sergoy Sergey Drygalov 3013 8.5 69
19 47 GM @Zhigalko_Sergei Sergei Zhigalko 2933 8.5 67.5
20 27 IM @Szparu Miłosz Szpar 2980 8.5 66.5
61 291 IM @annasargsyan_m Anna M. Sargsyan 2616 7.5 51.5

(Full final standings here.)

Sarana won $1,000 for his efforts, while Nakamura settled for $750 in second place. Dubov finished third for $350 as the only player on 9.5 points. GM Dmitry Andreikin earned $200 in fourth place, GM Dmitrij Kollars $100 in fifth place, and IM Anna M. Sargsyan won the $100 women's prize, just as she had done in the early June 4 tournament the week before.

Late Tournament

For the first time ever since Titled Tuesday began its twice-a-week cadence in February 2022, the late edition cracked 600 participants, winding up at a record 610. There could have been 6,000 players and none would have seemed to have a chance against the form Nakamura displayed, even though the final result was in doubt up to the very last round.

It was actually in the fifth round, however, where Nakamura's chance at perfection ended after his draw against prodigious GM-elect Yagiz Kaan Erdogmus, who only turned 13 years old on June 3.

Instead, the longest run at perfection belonged to GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, whose win over GM Sergey Drygalov brought the 18-year-old Indian star to an 8/8 score.

Praggnanandhaa's reward for his eighth straight win was a showdown with Nakamura. Nakamura continued to play the Caro-Kann Defense in his games with Black, and this time, it eventually earned him an endgame victory.

By now Nakamura already had taken lone first place, but his lead only grew in the last two rounds. GM Alireza Firouzja was the first player to try to wrest the lead from Nakamura and even played the Caro-Kann himself, but he only lasted 26 moves.

In fact, of the six players who had trailed Nakamura by a half-point entering round 10, only GM Vladimir Fedoseev won in the round. This, of course, earned him the final-round matchup against Nakamura, and so even with Nakamura just a half-point from perfection, a win for Fedoseev would win the tournament.

Nakamura switched to 1...e5, and every single minor piece was already captured by move 17. In the heavy piece endgame, Nakamura's queen and rooks all remained slightly more active than Fedoseev's, and he eventually netted an extra central passed pawn in a rook ending. There were very few pawns, however (three against two), and so the game continued. Finally, Fedsoeev made the losing error with 68.Kd2, trying to keep his king off the back rank—according to the tablebase, every king move lost, while 68.Rh7 or 68.Rh8 would have kept the draw in order. Sadly for Fedoseev, his king ended up too far from Nakamura's pawn, eventually allowing Nakamura to cut off the king altogether.

And with that, there would be no comeback victory for Fedoseev, just a massive score for Nakamura. Fedoseev was not able to hold onto a paid position, either, as a total of eight players ended up on nine points. Instead, Firouzja took second, with GM Andrew Hong completing the podium. Two people you might have heard of, 2018 World Championship combatants GMs Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, rounded out the top five. Finally, IM Polina Shuvalova won the women's prize on 7.5 points.

June 11 Titled Tuesday | Late | Final Standings (Top 20)

Number Rk Fed Title Username Name Rating Score Tiebreak 1
1 1 GM @Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 3263 10.5 74.5
2 6 GM @Firouzja2003 Alireza Firouzja 3160 9 75.5
3 27 GM @SpeedofLight0 Andrew Hong 3042 9 72.5
4 3 GM @FabianoCaruana Fabiano Caruana 3198 9 71
5 4 GM @MagnusCarlsen Magnus Carlsen 3191 9 71
6 8 GM @FairChess_on_YouTube Dmitry Andreikin 3121 9 69.5
7 9 GM @Bigfish1995 Vladimir Fedoseev 3128 9 64
8 11 GM @DenLaz Denis Lazavik 3101 9 61.5
9 19 GM @Javokhir_Sindarov05 Javokhir Sindarov 3053 9 60
10 10 GM @rpragchess Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu 3100 8.5 76.5
11 47 GM @Jakhongir-Vakhidov Jakhongir Vakhidov 2963 8.5 73
12 21 GM @ChristopherYoo Christopher Yoo 3045 8.5 72
13 17 GM @Msb2 Matthias Bluebaum 3049 8.5 65.5
14 18 GM @GM_dmitrij Dmitrij Kollars 3035 8.5 63.5
15 5 GM @HansOnTwitch Hans Niemann 3155 8.5 63
16 81 IM @Kosak12 Jakub Kosakowski 2868 8.5 62
17 36 GM @jcibarra Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez 3001 8 73.5
18 56 GM @Dedic8 Sergei Lobanov 2940 8 71
19 41 GM @dropstoneDP David Paravyan 2946 8 70.5
20 23 IM @Mykola-Bortnyk Mykola Bortnyk 3020 8 69.5
36 127 IM @Flawless_Fighter Polina Shuvalova 2760 7.5 68.5

(Full final standings here.)

The cash earnings were: $1,000 to Nakamura ($1,750 total on the day), $750 to Firouzja, $350 to Hong, $200 to Caruana, $100 to Carlsen, and $100 to Shuvalova.

Titled Cup Standings

Nakamura's score jumped another 2.5 points after his 20.5-point total eclipsed two nine-point tournaments. Sarana's win took him to within a point of second place in the open standings, while Andreikin took over fifth place after two solid scores. In the women's standings, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk continues to lead, but Shuvalova entered the top five with her late performance.

Open

# Username Score Player
1 @Hikaru 197.0 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2 @Polish_fighter3000 184.5 GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda
3 @mishanick 183.5 GM Alexey Sarana
4 @Jospem 180.5 GM Jose Martinez
5 @FairChess_on_YouTube 178.5 GM Dmitry Andreikin

Women

# Username Score Player
1 @ChessQueen 139.5 GM Alexandra Kosteniuk
2 @Goryachkina 137.0 GM Aleksandra Goryachkina
3 @Meri-Arabidze 134.0 IM Meri Arabidze
4 @karinachess1 133.0 IM Karina Ambartsumova
5 @Flawless_Fighter 125.5 IM Polina Shuvalova

Other Category Leaders

Juniors: GM Denis Lazavik (175.5 points)

Seniors: GM Gata Kamsky (165.0 points)

Girls: WCM Veronika Shubenkova (111.5 points)

The Titled Cup fantasy game Chess Prophet continues as well. Current standings can be found here. (Login required.)

Titled Tuesday


Titled Tuesday is Chess.com's weekly tournament for titled players, with two tournaments held each Tuesday. The first tournament begins at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time/17:00 Central European/20:30 Indian Standard Time, and the second at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time/23:00 Central European/2:30 Indian Standard Time (next day).

NathanielGreen
Nathaniel Green

Nathaniel Green is a staff writer for Chess.com who writes articles, player biographies, Titled Tuesday reports, video scripts, and more. He has been playing chess for about 30 years and resides near Washington, DC, USA.

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