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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
  plang: <but it seems symptomatc of a certain laxity in <Grischuk>'s approach to chess.>

This seems a little extreme. This is Grischuk's first loss in awhile.

He may have thought that White's attack with g5 was very dangerous and that ..Bxg4 offerred the best practical chance.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Nice try Grischuk. You get white against Maxime Vachier- Lagrave tomorrow.
Jan-15-11  SetNoEscapeOn: He's here to stay.
Jan-15-11  cionics: It seems Nakamura started this tournament with guns ablazin'! I wonder if this wild-west style of play is going to hold up against Carlsen, Anand and Kramnik?
Jan-15-11  Jim Bartle: But wasn't it Grischuk who sacrificed the piece?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <But wasn't it Grischuk who sacrificed the piece?>

Indeed - there was nothing "wild-west" about Nakamura's play in this game. His play in the opening was aggressive but very sound positionally, and then he defended accurately against Grischuk's attack (or attempts at attack - he never really managed to get anything serious going) following the piece sac.

Jan-15-11  Ezzy: Nakamura turned the screw today, after letting Grischuk 'off the hook' at the Tal Memorial.

Grischuk is much better than this. What's going on!

Jan-15-11  swr: How do you distinguish between QGD Ragozin and the Nimzo-Indian?
Jan-15-11  refutor: <distinguish between QGD Ragozin and Nimzo> i think the Nf3 makes the difference
Jan-15-11  SatelliteDan: How does white answer 21..Qh5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <How does white answer 21..Qh5?> 22.Qf5.

The Ragozin is a QGD/Nimzo-Indian hybrid; I think it needs all the first 4 moves of this game (in whatever order) to count as such. For example, 4...c5 instead of d5 would lead to the "Three Knights" variation of the Nimzo-Indian.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: There is a 4 Nf3 line in the Nimzo - the Ragozin is a "hybrid" line which is considered as part of the Queens Gambit though, as this game shows, there is overlap with the Nimzo-Indian.
Jan-15-11  SatelliteDan: Then 22..Ne5++
Jan-15-11  SatelliteDan: I guess white K just walks away.
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!

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