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Levon Aronian vs Hikaru Nakamura
FIDE World Team Championship (2013), Antalya TUR, rd 3, Nov-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Lasker Defense (D56)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-28-13  fisayo123: A fairly convincing win by Levon.
Nov-28-13  dumbgai: It's tough to create winning chances against the solid Lasker.
Nov-28-13  csmath: 14. Bc2!

[Crazy move but completely warranted. Bishop is controlling a4 square so that rook can go to c5. He also planned Bb3 with tactics on g6 and f7. Very original and creative play by Aronian.]

After 18 moves it is white that has developed and black has obvious problems with defending king against 4 pieces poised for attack.

19. Re5!?

[Yet another original play by Aronian.]

20. h4!

[Clearly Aronian has no peaceful intentions.]

20. ...Rad8
21. h5!

[No time for withdrawals. 21. Qb4 Bc8 is not the alternative Aronian wants to pursue.]

23. hxg6! Bxf3?!

[I think Nakamura is absolutely amazed by Aronian's audacity so he misses opportunity to exchange queens immediately: 23. ...Nd7, 24. Ra5 Qxc3, 25. bxc3 Bxf3, 26. gxf3 fxg6 looks like more pleasant defensive alternative with complex ending.]

26. gxf7?!

[26. Rd1 fxg6, 27. Qd4 looks stronger as white queen threatens a7 rank after f4 while d4 pawn is goner either way. Black queen cannot remove itself from the bind.]

26. ...d4?!

[Another imprecision and missed opportunity. Alternative: 26. ...Kxf7, 27. Qc7 Kg8, 28. Re7 Rc8!, 29. Qe5 Qxe5. 30. Rxe5 Rc2 and black has good chances for a draw due to activity of his rook on second rank.]

Nakamura loses pawn with some chances in the ending but ...

40. ...Rh8?

[40. Kxd5 Rxh4, 41. Re2 would be lost without pawns on the queenside but with them it is more resilient. Nevertheless I would consider this close to lost. Nakamura's move makes it sure.]

41. ...Re8?!

[The position is already lost anyway.
41. ...Rg8, 42. Kf5 Rg1, 43. Rxh4 b5, 44. f7! Ke7, 45. Rh7! and black loses queenside pawns or d/f promotes.]

42. Rxh4

with king and rook ideally placed for promotion of f-pawn while black rook and king are completely disharmonious.


Nakamura fancies himself as a challenger to Carlsen. Do you think this endgame would stand up to Carlsen scrutiny?

Original and creative play by Aronian reaching superior ending. Poor play by Nakamura in difficult ending folding much quicker than it should have been.

Nov-28-13  hellopolgar: Nakamura will have to figure out Aronian first before he has a shot at Carlsen.
Nov-28-13  csmath: Agree.

Aronian is now THE leader as far as tactical game is concerned. This I count Topalov and Nakamura and perhaps even MVL. At this point he is likely the best tactical player as he has ability to play very, very creative which he has done in this game. Moreover he is generally not a bad ending player which obviously helps. Perhaps not to the likes of Carlsen and Kramnik but surely close.

The other three have to go first through him to get to Carlsen.

Nov-28-13  dumbgai: Naka wants to challenge Carlsen? First he'll have to out-qualify Aronian:

Classical games: Levon Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura 7 to 4, with 7 draws.

And even if he gets past that hurdle:

Classical games: Magnus Carlsen beat Hikaru Nakamura 7 to 0, with 15 draws.

To call Naka an underdog would be a major understatement.

Nov-28-13  csmath: In his tweet Nakamura pointed out another alternative (Houdini) for 26th move.

26. ...Rc8
27. Rf5 Rxc3
28. Rxf6 Rxe3
29. fxe3 Kxf6
30. Rd1 Ke6
31. Kg2 Rxf7
32. Rh1

and while black is not out of the woods yet due to difficulties in defending h-pawn obviously he has better chance to hold the draw than what was played in the game. It is the best to give h-pawn and activate rook on the second rank 32. ... Rc7, in my view.

Of course it is much easier to see that in analysis than in the game as ending is certainly not obvious.

However one ought to give a credit to Aronian who played absolutely wonderful game.

Nov-28-13  asiduodiego: Excellent game by Levon. I've never liked this variant for Black in the Queen's Gambit with the exchange of the dark squared bishops and the f-knight for the c-knight: it looks solid, but it takes a while to activate the "bad bishop" blocked by the pawn on e6. Aronian showed his attacking skills, got Naka in trouble, and drove him to a lousy endgame a pawn down, and inactive rooks. Hikaru went downhill from there.

Congratulations to Levon!. Great tactical victory against a great tactical player such as Nakamura.

Nov-28-13  dehanne: Nakamura wants to defeat Sauron, yet he cannot even take down Saruman.
Nov-28-13  superstoned: Well, he beat Kramnik yesterday. (Morgoth?)
Nov-28-13  hudapri: after 17...Qc5 what's the continuation after 18. Qxg6 ?
Nov-28-13  hudapri: Just Qxh6, Qg6 followed by Bxf7?
Nov-28-13  Marmot PFL: Lasker D is not really Nakamura's style, Dutch or King's Indian suit him better.
Nov-28-13  WiseWizard: Levon is excellent at maintaining the initiative.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <hudapri: after 17...Qc5 what's the continuation after 18. Qxg6 ?>

If 17...Qxc5, then 18. Qxg6+ Kh8 19. Qxh6+ Kg8 (diagram below).

click for larger view

Here 20. e4! wins easily due to the mate threat created by the coming 21. Ng5 .

P.S.: Looks like Nakamura got caught in Aronian's opening prep.

Nov-29-13  lakers4sho: Nakamura prematurely cleared the center when he was underdeveloped, it was only natural that Lev went for an attack on the bare black kingside.
Nov-29-13  hudapri: <patzer2> ty, i never see the quiet ones :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: Many thanks, <csmath>, for sharing your good analysis of the game.
Nov-29-13  Captain Hindsight: Better would have been <40... Kd5!> with good prospects to achieve a draw. <41.Rxh4 Re2>
Nov-29-13  laertes: Thanks to <csmath>. Your analysis is super helpful for trying to understand these games.
Nov-29-13  SirRuthless: Nakamura was definitely caught in Aronian's opening prep. He was down to 20 minutes around move 22/ Aronian had more time on his clock than than he started with due to increment by move 20. It was that bad. That being said he played a defensive system he didn't really understand and deserved to lose. Aronian played well and always kept the pressure on. By the way Nakamura's losses to Aronian and Carlsen number 14. I think 11 of them are with the black pieces. He is usually good with the black pieces so make of that what you will.
Nov-29-13  Wyatt Gwyon: I understand that the Lasker Defense has once again become topical, but still a strange choice from Naka.
Dec-02-13  Ulhumbrus: An alternative to 10...Nxc3 is 10...f5 with a Stonewall formation
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