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Hikaru Nakamura vs Teimour Radjabov
Tal Memorial (2012), Moscow RUS, rd 9, Jun-18
Sicilian Defense: Nezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Attack (B30)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-18-12  Marmot PFL: Gricshuk, McShane and Nakamura all played this way against Radjabov and got a loss and 2 draws out of it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: From Evgeny Atarov & Vlad Tkachiev's round report:

<[Atarov] From the opening it seemed as though Radjabov was on the right track. With his opponent's acquiescence he got the max you could count on with Black the two bishops, open files and freedom for his pieces. In the press centre I witnessed an amusing scene as two grandmasters kept "twisting" the board back to themselves during analysis so as to have the black pieces and attack!

But then Radjabov... suddenly "switched off the tension". He cut down the worthless white knight on d3, ruining a good half of his own achievements. And then, as if realising what he'd just gone and done, out of inertia he removed two pairs of rooks and organised a ludicrous repetition?! Amazing! How often does even the world's fifth best player get the chance to claim first place at such a tournament (even if Radjabov would concede Carlsen first place after having lost their individual encounter)? And what about ratings, prize money and prestige, after all? Perhaps Teimour had simply had enough. He'd missed so much at this tournament! He didn't win an absolutely won position against Caruana, he "rotted away" against Carlsen, he had chances of beating Kramnik and Aronian. When is enough enough? And then when he almost had Nakamura on the ropes did all those missed chances flash before Tima's eyes and he mentally waved his hand and decided that the current Tal Memorial wasn't "his" tournament? Who knows...

"I underestimated the strength of 15.d4," Radjabov complained after the game. "It seemed to me that Black has a pleasant position everywhere. The second disappointment for me was that I didn't see the manoeuvre Qg4 and Ne2-f4-h5... In advance I thought that Black would simply be applying pressure by playing on the queenside, while White would have no play at all. But actually it turned out that Hikaru got a lot of threats, so I tried to reduce the risk of a loss to a minimum!"

And that's the thing: in many of the games Radjabov wasn't thinking about winning but about how not to lose. And can you count on victories with such an approach?!

[Tkachiev] Frankly I was stunned at how Radjabov, in a situation where he was on +1, saw what was going on in the Aronian-Caruana game and had, in my view, a clear edge with the black pieces, didn't even try to play for a win. After all, their game was the first to end.

The game made a strange impression. Firstly, I was amazed by Nakamura's choice: he played 3.Bb5 in the Sicilian, and it very soon turned out that Hikaru didn't have a very good grasp of the issues in that variation. The second thing was that Teimour, when he had all the prerequisites to play for a win, decided against it.

How you could take on d3, exchanging your bishop for the knight, I simply can't fathom. The move 27.Ne5 didn't actually represent any sort of threat to Black. What prevented him from doubling rooks on the f-file and then starting to speculate on the weakness of the light squares it's totally incomprehensible. That was both very tempting and absolutely safe. But after the capture on d3 the game was over...> (

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