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Hikaru Nakamura vs Alexander Grischuk
"Nak on Wood" (game of the day Jan-23-2011)
Tata Steel Group A (2011), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 1, Jan-15
Queen's Gambit Declined: Ragozin Defense (D38)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Yeah, 21...Qh5 22.Qf5! Ne5++ 23.Kg2/g3 is in White's favor - Black is forced into a queen exchange, which reduces his attacking chances.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Btw, one might think at first glance that the idea of 28.Rxg7+! is to follow up with 29.Nf5+ & 30.Nxe3 - but in fact, that would allow Black to draw with 29...Qxf5! 30.Qxf5 Re2+ and White has either to allow perpetual or to give up the queen: 31.Kf3 R8e3+ 32.Kf4 (32.Kg4 Re4+ 33.Kh5 Re5) 32...Rf2+.
Jan-16-11  hedgeh0g: Can anyone explain the random sacrifice on move 18?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: This has to best game for Round 1 in this tournament.
Jan-16-11  Ulhumbrus: After 15...Nf6 White may have a slight advantage overall because of the bishop pair, but 16 g4? looks like an attack with an aim which is out of proportion to this slight advantage. The attack is unsound, then. Suppose that Black follows Lasker's recommendation ( in his book "Common sense in chess") to disregard it entirely, to bring up his reserves and to do the slightest necessary to answer White's threats. One possible sequence is 16...Bd7 17 Kf2 Rac8 18 h4 Ba4 19 Qb1 Qa3 20 g5 Nh5 21 gxh6 Nxf4 22 gxf4 Rxc3 21 hxg7 Rfc8. I suspect that Nakamura was lucky to win this game instead of losing it, and that Grischuk did not find the right way to disregard the attack and develop his pieces.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Can anyone explain the random sacrifice on move 18?>

It’s not "random", though almost certainly not objectively best – he should probably have tried to set up a blockade by 18…h5 19.g5 Nd7, to meet g6 by ...f6. At this stage Black is in an uncomfortable position, seriously cramped for space, and it’s not easy for him to come up with a constructive plan, while the advancing pawn mass on the K-side looks menacing. The sac tries to directly refute White’s play on the K-side and show it was too weakening, but doesn’t manage to do it (though Black’s game can be improved at several later points) – as several commentators (like Ivan Sokolov, Shipov, Yermolinsky on ICC) have noted, it looks like White’s aggressive setup - 15.g4! 16.Kf2! - is also very sound positionally.

Jan-16-11  sofouuk: <16 g4? looks like an attack with an aim which is out of proportion to this slight advantage. The attack is unsound, then>

such devastating logic

Jan-17-11  Atking: <The sac tries to directly refute White's play on the K-side and show it was too weakening> Or may be to confuse the issue before White's play become more and more obvious.
Jan-19-11  katar: 16.g4 is prophylaxis against ...Nh5. Suppose 16.0-0 Nh5 and Black exchanges half of White's devastating bishop pair and Black survived the worst. Also, 16.g4 is in accord with the classical maxim that White's preponderance and control in the center justifies a flank move g4. Very much in the style of Botvinnik, IMO. Grischuk sacked a piece for 2 pawns to avoid getting slowly crushed under a direct attack on the kingside. 21...Ne5+ is an accurate move, forcing White to exchange the other bishop else a black knight settles in on d3. BTW I listened to Svidler's live commentary and he thought very highly of 16.g4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: This game started as a Nimzo-Indian but morphed into a Ragozin. Which move determined the name? The opening is probably all book - I haven't read any comments yet - but Nakamura's kingside attack sure developed quickly after the tempo earning 15.f3 followed by the g- and h-pawn pushes. Black's 18...Bxg4 piece sac for two pawns plus a knight check tempo seems warranted. I don't know if there was a better computer checked move in that position.

The move that really stood out to me, however, was 27.Qf3; now, I know that 28.Rxg7 has more bling, but it seems to me Nakamura had to see all the way to move 32 or even 33 and determine that he wouldn't run in to any funky queen-check tactics. I say that because 27.Qf3 ignores the volatile queenside situation created by 26...b4.

Now that I've made my observations, off to read the commentary, where I'm sure all the answers lie!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Okay, so it's a Ragozin/Nimzo-Indian hybrid.

And 18...Bxg4 was not best.

That knight on d4 looked very strong.

And, 27.Qf3 maybe wasn't so great; I still liked it.

33.Qb8 was a stronger move than 33.Qh2, which hurt black. After the queen exchange, it's game over.

Nakamura plays some fun stuff!

Jan-23-11  borginburks: how about 17..g5 to slow down a bit white's expansion on the kingside?or 17..Bd7 with idea Na4,Rac8 to put pressure on c3.or is it too slow??what does the engine says?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Okay, so it's a Ragozin/Nimzo-Indian hybrid.>

Not quite - it's simply a Ragozin, which is itself a Queen's Gambit Declined/Nimzo-Indian hybrid... The fact that it's classified in ECO as a sub-system of QGD (i.e., QGD with Bb4 by Black) rather than of the Nimzo-Indian is rather arbitrary, like saying that Zebras are white with black stripes rather than black with white stripes.

Jan-23-11  acirce: Zebras are black with white stripes.
Jan-23-11  cunctatorg: What is the time arrangement in (for) this very tournament?
Jan-23-11  Cushion: Bxg4 was practically best. Grischuk was being crushed and would eventually lose without it. Sacing the piece gave him some chance of drawing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Thanks, Eyal
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: From Chris Ward's book on the Kasparov variation of the Nimzo-Indian (1 d4..Nf6 2 c4..e6 3 Nc3..Bb4 4 Nf3 - popularized after Kasparov used it a few times against Karpov in the 1985 match):

"...I would like to draw your attention to the legitimacy of the move 4..d5. That would be a direct transposition to a fashionable variation of the Queens Gambit Declined under which it is officially still classified. More commonly reached via the move order 1 d4..d5 2 c4..e6 3 Nf3..Nf6 4 Nc3..Bb4 with the bishop (usually making its home on e7) now on b4, there are obvious similarities with the Nimzo-Indian. Generally known as the Ragozin Defense. White can sensibly react with 5 Qa4+ or 5 cxd..exd 6 Bg5."

Incidentally, just to confuse things further after 5 Bg5..Nbd7 the position would transpose into the Manhatten variation of the Queens Gambit (named Manhatten because of its popularity during the famous 1927 tournament in New York). The ECO categorizes both the Ragozin and the Manhatten under D38.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Here is a case of a mighty Cavalier defeats three pawns.

Ok,the pawns are weak,but that is still quite a feat.

Feb-01-11  ReikiMaster: 19...Bxf3 looks useful.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <19...Bxf3 looks useful.>

It's another way to get 2 pawns for the piece, but it doesn't look so good for Black after 20.Kxf3 dxc4 (20...Qxc4 21.Rhg1 with Nf5 coming) 21.Qf5! and Black pretty much has to hand over the initiative to White - e.g. 21...Qe7 (a queen exchange would favor White) 22.Rhg1.

Mar-26-11  Helloween: <Check It Out> after 4.Nf3 it becomes a Kasparov Nimzo Indian, which is only independant without an early ...d5. After 4...d5 it is immediately the Ragozin.
Jul-15-11  DrMAL: <Eyal: <Can anyone explain the random sacrifice on move 18?> It’s not "random", though almost certainly not objectively best – he should probably have tried to set up a blockade by 18…h5 19.g5 Nd7, to meet g6 by ...f6.> I agree with this part but black is not "seriously cramped for space" particularly since a second pair of minor pieces are about to be swapped.

The position after 18.h4 is basically equal and double-edged. Black's sac is creative and attempts to steal the initiative but the only real plan left is to try and advance the extra pawns.

If in the liquidated position the three extra pawns were all on one side (instead of 2+1) the sac would have been justified but here it was not (as was shown). Great game for Naka!

Jul-20-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Nakamura vs Grischuk, 2011.
Your score: 83 (par = 69)


Jul-11-14  solskytz: Impressive how once all pieces are gone Naka wastes no time and goes straight for the jugular in chasing that a-pawn and trying to straight-forwardly create a killer a-pawn of its own.
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