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Francisco Vallejo Pons vs Hikaru Nakamura
"Time Waits for No One" (game of the day Jan-01-2012)
Grand Slam Chess Final (2011), Sao Paulo BRA, rd 9, Oct-10
King's Indian Defense: Orthodox Variation. General (E91)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Ouch. That's got to hurt. I'm sure that we've all lost on time at least once. But doubly painful to do so when a tournament hangs on the result and the world is watching.

To lose when you've got a minute left because you've miscounted the number of moves that have been played? That's a more unusual mistake to make, but has also happened lots of time before. We are all human.

I don't think we can accuse Vallejo-Pons of bad sportsmanship. Rules are rules and this is a professional sport. The responsibility lies with Nakamura to keep score.

In club chess you sometimes see one player losing track of how many moves have been played and looking across at his opponent's scoresheet. Sometimes the opponent will let him see, sometimes they will cover their scoresheet so he can't. Can't blame anyone either way.

Change the rules or equipment so this does not happen again? Possibly. But that could mean you need special equipment to play chess - an electronic board that automatically captures the moves played. That would be fine for the elite but prohibitively expensive for everyone else. It as not as if this game of ours is thriving financially.

All in all, an unusual talking point. I doubt if Nakamura will fall for that one again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <Once> I agree, losing on time because of miscounting is doubly painful.

In one of my games - I think I was against our club champion - we were both in time trouble, and we were both ticking the scoresheet and not writing down the moves. I had a winning position (a piece up thanks to his rather daring sac) but was facing various threats so I coulnt play any old nothing moves. I survived until the last move before the control, when I blundered the game away. So near yet so far.

When we came to reconstruct the move sequence it was clear we had both miscounted, and I had already made it to the control. That's life :(

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Almost to time control, black resigns.
Jan-01-12  SimonWebbsTiger: @<penguincw>

No. Naka thought it was white's 41st move. Incredibly silly of Hikaru.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: < SimonWebbsTiger: @<penguincw> No. Naka thought it was white's 41st move. Incredibly silly of Hikaru. >

Oh wow. Naka should look at the score sheet next time.

Jan-01-12  bumpmobile: I've only ever missed moves on my scoresheet. In order for this to happen he must have inserted some extra ones. I wonder how?
Jan-01-12  erniecohen: I don't understand why Nakamura was so confident that he was goung to win from the final position. Does anybody claim this as a win for Black?
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  WannaBe: <<<ANNOUNCEMENT>>>

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <bumpmobile> I guess he had stopped writing moves down altogether. You are allowed to when you get to less than 5 minutes on your clock. The most discplined way is to tick off each move as you make it, but this may have gone out of the window in a frantic scramble to make the time control.

Then we are into the old Dirty Harry conundrum. Did I fire six shots or only five? In all this excitement I clean forgot myself. But seeing as this is the most powerful handgun in the world and could take your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself: "do I feel lucky?"

<erniecohen> I don't think it's a clear black win, but he does have a pleasant edge. With his extra pawn, Nakamura would have been settling down for the next period of play in the expectation of grinding out an endgame win. At worst he has a draw. At best he gets a chance to win. But then the world's most unfortunate orange juice and he throws it all away.

Jan-01-12  erniecohen: <Once> Except that I think that this position is probably a draw with accurate defense. Can an endgame specialist comment please?
Jan-01-12  King Death: <Once: ...I don't think it's a clear black win, but he does have a pleasant edge...>

< erniecohen: Except that I think that this position is probably a draw with accurate defense. Can an endgame specialist comment please?>

< CapZug: ...I think an interesting continuation is: 40... R1d7 41.Qe6 Kg7 42.Ra6 Rd6! 43.Qe7+ Kh6 44.Ra7 Kh5! 45.Qxh7+ Kg4 46.Kh2 (46.Qxg6+?? Kh3! 0-1) 46...Qd3! 47.f3+?! Kf5 and now:

48.g4+ Kf4! 49.Qh6+ g5! 50.hxg5 Qe2+ 51.Kg1 Qxf1+!! with forced mate;

48.h5 Qe2+ 49.Kg1 Qxf1+!! with forced mate.>

My opinion is that <CapZug>'s 40...R1d7 41.Qe6 Kg7 is a start in the right direction, Black needs to get his king some air. In the analysis after 42.Ra6 though, I think 42...Rd1 is better than 42...Rd6 because 43. Qe7+ Kh6 44.Qe3+ Qe3 45.fe Rf1+ 46.Kf1 Rd1+ 47.Kf2 Rc1 is still good for Black. White could also try (after 42...Rd1) 43.Ra1 Ra1 44.Ra1 Rd2 but this looks passive and I'd hate to defend it.

Jan-01-12  erniecohen: <King Death> I think a better line for White (instead of 42. ♖a6) is 42. ♖ae1, e.g. 42...♕d5 43. ♕e3 ♖c7 44. ♕b6 ♖f7 45. ♔h2 ♖c8 46. ♖c1 ♕d6 47. ♕c5 ♕xc5 48. ♖xc5 ♖e7 49. ♖fc1 ♖e4 50. ♖xc6 ♖xc6 51. ♖xc6 ♖xb4 , and we're getting into book draw territory:

click for larger view

Jan-01-12  King Death: <ernie cohen> The rook is already at a1 in your line with 42.Ra1.
Jan-01-12  erniecohen: <King Death> that was a typo - it is correctecd to {42.Rae1) above
Jan-01-12  King Death: <erniecohen> After 42.Rae1 Qd5 43.Qe3 I like 43...Qd4 and if 44.Qe6 Rc7 with the idea of then playing ...Qd5. Progress will take time but this is a long way from being drawn.
Jan-02-12  Funicular: you would think naka would've known better. thats life, i guess.

In any case, after watching "trading places", we all learn that orange juice can take anyone down

Jan-02-12  bubuli55: <Jan-01-12    erniecohen: <Once> Except that I think that this position is probably a draw with accurate defense. Can an endgame specialist comment please? >

<Oct-10-11    checkmateyourmove: twitternakamura = I would of won the game if i didn't lose on time, duh.... >

I hope that helps :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <KingDeath> People are silly. All these GMs at around that level and even lower are players who we can respect as good players (very talented) with interesting ideas. Hence enjoy their play.

Nakamura is very very good but Vallejo is also! He is not too far behind and I'm sure most of us on here, if we were even able to get a game with them or any other GM, wouldn't last very long against either of them!

Who is the US Champion just now?

Jan-02-12  Shams: <Who is the US Champion just now?>

Gata Kamsky, $42k first prize plus untold literary and publishing rights.

Jan-02-12  erniecohen: <King Death> Letting Houdini play both sides, it's basically unable to see any way for Black to make progress. I'm not claiming that it's a draw, but unless someone has a concrete line for Black to make progress, or some evidence that he can, I'm inclined to think that it is.
Jan-02-12  erniecohen: <buuli55> That comment is what started the whole question. Can someone who knows what they're doing explain why Black should win, or at least provide some objective evidence? I don't think a tweet from a guy that's pissed that he just lost qualifies.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <erniecohen> You are not going to get a concrete line to prove a forced win from a position with as much play as this one. There are way too many choices for both sides and we haven't yet reached a position where tablebases can give us a definitive win/lose/draw decision.

What we do know is that black is ahead by a safe pawn. All other things being equal that gives him a reasonable chance to play for the win. The technique is fairly straight-forward. One way is to exchange off all the heavy pieces and then march his king over to the extra pawn. Or he could rearrange his rooks and queen to pile up on the isolated white pawn on b4.

It will take quite a long time - too many moves for computers to be able to give a reliable estimate. But a pawn is a pawn is a pawn. Nakamura would be expecting to win from a position like this something like 75% of the time.

It's not yet definitely won, so Vallejo-Pons will not be resigning any time soon. Even if it's only a draw, that would have been a better result than losing on time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black loses at the buzzer!
Jan-03-12  erniecohen: <Once> The problem is that the technique here isn't straightforward at all; you can't just exchange major pieces and hope to get a win. For example, if you just take away a ♕ and ♖ from each side, you get a book draw. And it's not so easy to pile on the b4 pawn because Black has his own backward c6 pawn and his exposed ♔ to worry about.

Indeed, the claim that it is a draw is backed up by a game by two strong, equally matched players (Houdini) (albeit not masters of the endgame) playing to a draw.

So at this point, I'd say that the evidence points to this ending being a draw, rather than a win for Black.

Jan-03-12  King Death: < erniecohen: The problem is that the technique here isn't straightforward at all; you can't just exchange major pieces and hope to get a win. For example, if you just take away a queen and rook from each side, you get a book draw. And it's not so easy to pile on the b4 pawn because Black has his own backward c6 pawn and his exposed king to worry about...>

Like I said above, "Progress will take a long time but this is a long way from being drawn."

Even if Black wins 50% and draws 50% of time for a score of 75% from the position after your idea of 42.Rae1, there's still a lot to play for.

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