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Hikaru Nakamura vs Varuzhan Eduardovich Akobian
US Championship (2015), St Louis, MO USA, rd 2, Apr-02
French Defense: Rubinstein Variation. Blackburne Defense (C10)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  drleper: <ajile: lol! At the time the announcers loved 11..b6. Maybe they should consider at least having an engine handy for low ply blunder checks.>

Stockfish 6 seems to think black has some compensation for the pawn. But it's not really a low-ply blunder, more a positional sacrifice (perhaps objectively incorrect) for the chance to play an aggressive game against the white king. Probably there were more testing ways to play the attack.

Apr-02-15  Marmot PFL: Black has done OK with 11...b6 in other games. Van Wely drew Anand with it and Andreikin beat Nepomniatchi.

However Nakamura suggested that the move does not suit Akopian's positional style.

Apr-02-15  Conrad93: The game with van Wely was a blindfold game.
Apr-03-15  fgh: <ajile: lol! At the time the announcers loved 11..b6. Maybe they should consider at least having an engine handy for low ply blunder checks.>

They "loved" it because they understand chess, unlike patzers like you. Grischuk played a similar pawn sacrifice against Caruana some months ago and got a good position with it.

Caruana vs Grischuk, 2014

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In this position, after 19.Bc3,

click for larger view

...Akobian played the immediate 19...Qc5. He may have transposed moves, because it seems that 19...Bxb5 first might have been more reasonable.

Or, as <SirRuthless> pointed out elsewhere, he may have missed a pretty obvious tic-tac. White has just played 20.Bd4:

click for larger view

Did Akobian think he could now play 20..Rxd4? He can, but it loses to an eventual 22.Bd3xh7+.

Whatever the reason, after 19...Qc5 black was very much on the back foot and Naka made no mistake.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Hi all

I have video annotated this game here:

Cheers, K

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This is one of those skew-whiff games that ends up in loads of books.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The idea behind 11...b6 is easy to see; the players have called on opposite sides do black wants some open files on the queenside. Giving up a pawn is a good idea, it's an extra open file. But something goes wrong somewhere, probably with 19...Qc5.
Apr-03-15  ajile: <fgh: <ajile: lol! At the time the announcers loved 11..b6. Maybe they should consider at least having an engine handy for low ply blunder checks.>

They "loved" it because they understand chess, unlike patzers like you. Grischuk played a similar pawn sacrifice against Caruana some months ago and got a good position with it.

Caruana vs Grischuk, 2014>

And yet the game ended in a loss for Black. What a surprise isn't it? Especially since it was BLACK who used it and supposedly had spent hours analyzing all the variations. I would agree though that I exaggerated when I said the word "blunder". Not an outright blunder but a gamble and hopefully a move that wastes your opponents time.

With perfect play Black is about a half pawn down at low ply with my machine. Worth it? Maybe but this doesn't justify the announcers creaming their pants over it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Karne: 11..b6 was an artistic move. The content of it's art laid undiscovered 79 moves ahead, which is neither fortunate or simply a stroke of bad luck triggered by an adventurous Hikaru.
Apr-03-15  onur87: sad day...our teacher lost.
Apr-03-15  Everett: Note black's 9th ...b6 Spassky vs Bronstein, 1957

Comes even before q-side castling. A good sac. But Black's limp opening here offers less counterplay than Bronstein's choice.

Apr-03-15  SirRuthless: If you aren't willing to "get busy" offering gambits with black are generally a bad idea.
Apr-05-15  cornflake: I was surprised when I saw 11...b6!?. Naka pretty much shut down any compensation black would have gotten on the a or c file from this move. After 20Bd4 the position is a loss for black (two pawns down no compensation). I don't think we'll see much of 11...b6?! at the GM level in the future.
Apr-07-15  Neogy: Just off the top of my head how about 12... Qa7?

And a possible Bishop sac on a3 to open up the white King's position? With the Black bishop threatening on the dark squares could this yield anything for black?

Apr-07-15  DrGridlock: Some previous commentary questions Black's opening play, focusing on 11 ... b6.

Kingcrusher's video annotation suggests that b6 is a valid pawn gambit, and black only goes astray later with 14 ... Ra5. Kingcrusher points out the "tempo gain" White has with 16 Bd2 hitting the rook. In retrospect, curious what Black had in mind with the Rook lift, since the rook can't long remain long on a4.

Engine analysis by Komodo finds that even stronger positionally at move 16 than Bd2 is f3:

Hikaru Nakamura - Varuzhan Akobian

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo 5r1 32-bit :

1. (0.89): 16.f3 Ba6 17.c4 Bxb5 18.cxb5 Qa8 19.a3 Nd5 20.Bd4 Rd8 21.Qc2 Bf6 22.Bxh7+ Kf8 23.Bxf6 gxf6 24.Qd3 Qc8

2. (0.70): 16.Bd2 Raa8 17.f3 Ba6 18.a4 Rfd8 19.Bf4 Nd5 20.Bg3 Qd7 21.Rhe1 Bb4 22.Bh4 Be7 23.Qe4 g6 24.Bxe7 Qxe7

In summary, 11 ... b6 wasn't a bad opening play - it was Akobian's weaker play following that sunk this game.

Apr-07-15  SirRuthless: Good post. Yes I made reference to the timid play with Ra5 tempo was earlier but did not have hardware to back up my gut instinct. Rule against Nakamura especially is do not waste time. Efficient players do well enough against him but players who are unsure and waste a tempo or two will fall under heavy attack.
Apr-17-15  Hot Logic: I thought it was a reasonable sac, especially with the open a and c files and the rook already on the a-file.

Then Akobian starts playing limp moves like Ra5 and it seems like he is not taking the initiative and just wasting tempos.

It is nonsense to criticise his b6 move as 'bad' without considering his follow up.

If the players were to have switched sides after 11...b6 there is a very good chance Black would have won, since I think Nakamura would have taken a more aggressive approach - which is the 'correct' way to play after such a gambit.

Aug-24-16  mandor: There is a nice observation of GM Ben Finegold about this game on

He points out that 12 pawn sacrifice of Akobian, it gives plenty compensation for black, although in 5 or 6 moves later, the position was loosing. He quoted Nakamura "Yes, the position was equal after move 12, but is it not an Akobian kind of position (do not fit with his style). Akobian does not want to sacrifice a pawn and have compensation. Akobian wants to be a pawn ahead and have compensation".

Aug-24-16  MCDreams: But according to Pulo Y WordFun, player characteristics and styles do not exist. So Nakamura's observation of Akobian's style is invalid according to Pulo (pretentious as ever).

According to WordFunPulo's words of wisdom, chess is just a series of good moves or bad moves and you cannot distinguish or differentiate players from one another. In Pulo's chess world, there is no such thing as chess style.

Nakamura just happened to play bad moves all the time when he's playing Carlsen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: the theory had withstood the test of time. It's novelty is so memorable that even those who forget their parents remember it.
Aug-24-16  MCDreams: Chess is just a series of good moves and bad moves.

No such thing as chess styles. If you replay Karpov-vs-Kasparov games and interchange their names, you would hardly notice any difference. Because they are basically the same player making either a good move or a bad move. Words of wisdom from the novelty theorist WordFunPH.

WordFunPH collects chess books not to learn how to play (he has nothing to show for it) but to learn how to form novelty theories.

And the chess nobel prize goes to...

Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: Well, if you replay karpov vs. kasparov you'll know it is karpov vs. kasparov precisely because it is a replay and you've seen it before.

I have lots of unrecorded games which are the stuff of dreams. I collect chess books because it cannot be the other way around: the chess books collecting me.

Aug-24-16  MCDreams: <wordfunph: I collect chess books because it cannot be the other way around: the chess books collecting me.>

I'm at a loss for words [I'm not a <man of letters> after all] on yet another novelty theory by the pretentious as ever, mastership claiming, spartan chinelas wearing WordFunPH.

Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: Believe you me, it is not only for words that we see you at a loss about, simpering, suicidal, sinner.
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