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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Nakamura surprises with a great game and knocks out Caruana

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The American Hikaru Nakamura broke the unwritten rules of elite sport this Sunday: he is a strong contender for the world title, although he dedicates a lot of time and energy to his work streamers, that made him a millionaire. The victory after six hours of great quality over his compatriot Fabiano Caruana, who was second in the world before the game, puts him in third place in the Madrid Candidates Tournament with six rounds to go. The leader is Russia’s Ian Niepómniashi, a point clear of Caruana, whom he meets on Monday, and 1.5 points over Nakamura.

“I don’t see Nakamura winning the Candidates Tournament,” said Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen on the eve of the first round. This omen was in line with the general feeling of trade journalists: Nakamura’s enormous talent allows him to beat anyone, but success with the candidates requires months of absolute dedication and focus. Carlsen explained this, placing the Japanese-American in the least likely group of players along with Poland’s Jan Duda and Azerbaijani’s Teimur Radyabov. Carlsen’s favorites were China’s Liren Ding and Caruana, followed by up-and-coming France’s Alireza Firouzja, 19, and Niepómniashi.

But Nakamura is like a motorcycle, ready to pull off a feat that borders on the impossible: winning a Candidates Tournament, a grueling test of extreme suspense in which he dedicates part of the nights to his live programs on the internet, which also require a lot Waste of energy. The game against Caruana had an additional motivation for him: Nakamura was undoubtedly the best player in the USA before billionaire Rex Sinquefield, patron of chess, invested the necessary money to buy Caruana (Italian), Wesley So (Philippines) , Leinier Domínguez (Cubans) and Levón Aronian (Armenians). Nakamura has announced that he will not participate in the Chess Olympiad in Chennai (India) from July 28, despite the US securing gold due to the absence of Russia (sanctioned) and China (Covid restrictions).

And if salt and pepper were missing, the perspective six laps before the end also has its political spice. Niepomniashi, who spoke out against aggression against Ukraine, was authorized to play with the International Federation (FIDE) flag; on the contrary, his compatriot Sergei Kariakin, who advocated the invasion, was disqualified from the candidates after winning his place. But Niepomniashi basically remains Russian and everything indicates that only the two Americans can prevent his triumph.

Richard Rapport, during the 8th round of candidates, this Sunday at the Palacio de SantoñaLG

Round 8 was epic despite the disappointing quick draw between Niepomniashi and Ding, and not just because of Nakamura’s win. Firouzja was still in contention for an unlikely win at the time of writing after battling Radyabov for almost seven hours. Much earlier, the Hungarian Richard Rapport had won his first, very brilliant victory over the Pole Jan Duda. Rapport, whose stylish jackets are highly commented on by reporters chess.com (the official platform of the tournament), when asked about his strategy for the rest of the tournament, replied: “I will continue to be very careful with my clothing.”

classification (after the 8th round): 1st Niepómniashi 6 points; 2. Caruana 5; 3.Nakamura 4:5; 4. Report 4; 5. ringing 3.5; 6. Doubt 3; 7th-8th Radyábov and Firouzja 2.5 (both with a game down).

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Source elpais.com

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