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Levon Aronian vs Hikaru Nakamura
World Championship Candidates (2016), Moscow RUS, rd 6, Mar-17
Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Nimzowitsch Variation (E15)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-18-16  Marmot PFL: <AylerKupp>

I was considering 74...Ra5 and 74 Ra6, but after watching Aronian's explanation I could see the refutations to them. 72...Re2 looks like the toughest move, but even then black has to find other good moves too.

Mar-18-16  DrGridlock: From Reuben Fine's "Basic Chess Endings"

"Rook and Three Pawns vs Rook and Two Pawns.

Unless White has an e-pawn, there are no winning chances at all. ... When White has an e-pawn, his prospects are brighter, but except for certain positions the game is a draw. The chief of these won cases is Capablanca - Yates 1930."

Capablanca vs Yates, 1930

Interesting to compare Capablanca - Yates to Aronian - Nakamura.

Capablanca has e, f and g pawns, Aronian has e, f, and h pawns. Yates has f and h pawns, Nakamura has f and h pawns.

Jose Raul Capablanca - Fred Dewhurst Yates

click for larger view

From move 68, Komodo finds White's win.

1. (2.03): 68...Ra4+ 69.Kd5 Ra5+ 70.Kd6 Ra6+ 71.Kc7 Ra5 72.f6+ Kh7 73.Kd6 Ra1 74.Rf8 Ra7 75.Rd8 Ra5 76.Ke7 Rxe5+ 77.Kxf7 h5 78.Rd2 Ra5 79.Rh2 Ra7+ 80.Ke6 Ra6+ 81.Kf5 Ra5+ 82.Kf4

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: It would have been interesting to hear Nakamura's response to Aronian's claim of a forced win in this endgame. Still time for him to tweet it!
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<DrGridlock> Positions between move 62 and move 74 are essentially the same.>

Essentially the same yes, but not identical. Position after 61...Rxa5:

click for larger view

Position after 74.Rd7:

click for larger view

One (the?) critical difference is that after 74...Kf8 75.Kf6 Ra6 White has the resource 76.Rd6. Now Black has the choice of exchanging down to a lost K+P endgame after 76...Rxd6 77.exd6 (77...Ke8 78.h5 Kd7 79.Kxf7 Kxd6 80.f5 followed by 80.f6, 81.Kg7 82.f7 and the pawn queens), the losing game continuation after 76...Ra8, or being mated after 76...R(other) 77.Rd8#. In the position following the game continuation 62.Rc4 Ra1 63.Rc7 Kf8, 64.Kf6 is handled by 64...Ra6+ and the White king has to retreat since 64.Rc6 is not an option.

At any rate, it's always better to get the analysis from the "snail's" mouth, the nickname I've given to FinalGen due to the lengthy time it typically requires in even a relatively complex position in order to provide results. In 'Search for draw' mode it should only take FinalGen a couple of hours to come up with a result. From the position after 61...Rxa5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <DrGridlock> Dvoretsky in his "Endgame Manual" has the following to say:

"If all pawns are on the same wing, bringing the advantage home is frequently impossible (it is more precise to say, it should not be possible against correct defense). The fewer the pawns, the easier the defense is.

Say, with 3 pawns against 2 or even with 4 against 3, in case of standard pawn structures, the task of the defender is not too difficult ..." Perhaps easy for him to say. :-)

Dvoretsky also analyzes Capablanca vs Yates, 1930 and says that Capablanca's 61.Rb6 was a mistake and so were 61...Re3, 63.Kb2, and 63...Ra3, all allowing 63...h5! when Black can either trade a pair of pawns by 64.gxh5 Rh3 ("the fewer the pawns, the easier the defense is,") or in the case of 64.g5 h4 Black gets enough counterplay to save the game. I'll take his word for it but I don't really know. The latter position is another candidate for FinalGen analysis.

Mar-18-16  Eyal: There's a <very> detailed analysis of Aronian's "winning method" by no less than MVL included in the round report (, and he comes to the conclusion that it shouldn't work. Btw, when I quoted from Sutovsky's facebook a page earlier I mentioned that Krasenkow wrote in one of the comments there that Aronian might have confused this position with Capablanca - Yates...

h5, the move with which Aronian starts, might actually not be such a great idea, since this square can be useful for the white king in various lines. There's an interesting analysis by Alexei Yarovinsky of some trickier winning attempts by White in the chess-news Russian report ( Anyway, I think that an important bottom line about the position after White's 74th move (or 62nd, for that matter) is that even if Black should hold with accurate play, it's far from being a trivial or obvious draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Mar-17-16 Marmot PFL: <The FinalGen tablebase generator says that it's a theoretical draw for Black after either 74...Ra1, 74...Ra4, or 74...Re2. White wins or draws after any other move by Black. But that is, of course, assuming best play by both sides.> If those were the only moves to draw it's likely that Nakamura would have lost even without the touch move incident. Still it must have been some relief to Magnus Carlsen to see his biggest threat all but eliminated.>

You mean, the guy he is +12 against is his biggest threat? Apologies if my sarcasm meter is broken.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Eyal>'s far from being a trivial or obvious draw."

I would agree with you; even though all rook endings might be drawn, some draws are less trivial or obvious than others.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: The <biggest threat> was Nakamura's own comment on himself (IIRC, in one of the NIC editions), so I understand why Naka gets so many sarcastic comments featuring that remark. That's the painful backside of the American trash talking culture :D
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <keypusher> I would also agree with you that Nakamura would not be Carlsen's greatest threat in a WCC match. Not because of his record in previous head-to-head encounters with Carlsen but because he seems to occasionally have lapses during games. And in a 12-game match against Carlsen, one lapse is all that it would take for Nakamura to lose the match.

My money, if I were a betting man, would be on someone like Giri, assuming that he can win this tournament. He is difficult to beat as his recent record shows. So he can probably go head-to-head against Carlsen for the majority of the match, drawing all the games if necessary. Then, in the final rounds, the chances of an upset will be greater. And I'm sure that Sopiko would be able to give him whatever "encouragement" he needed. ;-)

Mar-18-16  Eyal: <AylerKupp> Yeah... What I really wanted to emphasize in the context of this game is that even without Nakamura's blunder, Aronian would have had practical winning chances (even if not a forced win as he claimed).
Mar-18-16  DrGridlock: From MFL's analysis of Aronian's "dream position" (position in my post above to which Aronian comments, "So yeah, basically this is winning, because black can't prevent f5.":

"68... Ra169.
70 f5 Re1+

active defence is needed but I don't see how White gets out of the multiple checks. ... A sad end to the game, but Levon managed to keep pressuring Hikaru and give him tough problems to solve until he collapsed uncharacteriscally. It's also hard to guess whether he would have held what <seems like a theoretically drawn endgame>, but a far from obvious one!" (emphasis mine).

So neither GM analysis, nor engine analysis is likely to provide a definitive answer, though a drawn game seems the consensus.

Perhaps FinalGen will provide a definitive answer.

Mar-18-16  ajile:

click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 3 32-bit : 23 ply

1. ± (1.34): 15.Ra4 Rb1 16.Ra8+ Ke7 17.Ra7+ Ke8 18.Ra6 Re1+ 19.Kd5 Rd1+ 20.Kc6 Rc1+ 21.Kd6 Rd1+ 22.Kc5 Rc1+

2. ± (1.34): 15.Rd7 Ke8 16.Rd6 Rb4+ 17.Kd5 Rb5+ 18.Kd4 Rb4+ 19.Kc5 Rf4 20.Rf6 Rf1 21.Kd5 Ke7 22.Rxh6 Rxf5 23.Ke4 Rf1 24.Rb6 Kf8 25.Rf6 Re1+

This is Aronian's "winning" position. But after many repeated attempts and different tries I have yet to find a winning plan for White.

Note that after 15.Rd8+ Ke7 16.Rh8 looks good but now Black just gets endless checks. And if the White king tries to approach the rook the center pawns are vulnerable. Plus there is no place for the White king to hide.

If someone else can show a path to a White victory please post your line.

Mar-18-16  ajile:

click for larger view

Unable to find a winning path from this position either instead of an immediate f5. (White to play)

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: See Lputian vs G Sargissian, 1999 for another way to lose this one :)
Mar-18-16  SirRuthless: <alexmagnus> That was said a few years ago. Since then Nakamura has admitted many times that he is no match for Magnus. At this point it's just become harassment from Wesleybots and Magnus' fans but when you get paid to travel the world and play a board game for a living a little ribbing is a fair price to pay.
Mar-18-16  JohnBoy: Whatever, Naka screwed the pooch & Nepo is a whiny twerp.
Mar-20-16  WorstPlayerEver: It would have been a draw. Case closed.
Mar-21-16  choosea: CHESS WORLD CUP:

#BakuMuraBlunder #CastleGate "..#NakamuraBrothers(Hikaru) touches the rook before his king... the rook must be moved.." #disgusted #chess

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <However you judge it, though, it was an extraordinary incident, and hence it is also extraordinary that as far as we know, nobody asked Aronian about it in the subsequent interview. By "extraordinary" I don't necessarily mean "surprising" - that's far from the case - and obviously the best person to ask about it didn't turn up to be asked, for which he has quite rightly been fined.

OK. But what was stopping the interviewers, at what (not very accurately) is described as a press conference, asking his opponent about it?


Come to that, it's as if Maradona had turned up for a press conference two days later and even then nobody asked him about it, given that when Nakamura actually turned up following his defeat of Topalov in the very next round, nobody said a word on the subject. You'd have thought it would be an ideal opportunity to press him about it. But they didn't.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Sometimes the J'adouber gets away with it.

Matulovic vs I Bilek, 1967

Mar-23-16  not not: you make a bad move, you realise your mistake, so you take it back and says "jadoube"

nakamura didn't get away with it, good for chess

Mar-23-16  SirRuthless: That's right and he's still smiling. It didn't destroy him. Everyone wins.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <keypusher> Yeah, learn from the legends: Milan Matulovic
Apr-05-16  Sally Simpson: I've done the picking up the wrong piece thing myself.

I was playing this lad Neil Berry in the last round of a tournament.

It was my move and I'm deep in thought when an arbiter interrupts me to ask if I had selected the 'Best Swindle Prize'.

I put up the money for the best swindle prize so I get to pick it. It was the only way I could guarantee getting some games with spirit in them to write about. I have rescued and saved for posterity some great games.

In one case I had to make up the game because I was positive I would never see it. Then a few days later I found the score and it was better than the game I made up.

Where was I....Oh yes, the arbiter chappie who speaks to people when it's their move.

I leave the board so I don't distract my opponent. Tell the Arbitier 'No' and to go away.

I come back and within 10 seconds I picked up my Queen realising right away any Queen move losses.

I let go of the piece. Neil just looked at me. I said: "I will move it." and I did and I lost.

But I was so annoyed at myself and for a very brief moment I did think about trying to get away with it or asking Neil if he would let me off.

Thankfully sanity prevailed.

Now that was for a 3rd or 4th place and whopping great £50.

Nakamura did the right thing by staying away from the press conference, licking his wound and taking the fine. If he had attended and one of those 'interviewers' had asked him about it then he would have hit him.

It should now be forgotten but as loads of good football players are remembered by fans solely for missing a penalty (half the England squad), the Scot Gary McAllister missed a penalty v England and that makes his Wiki page.

This incident will follow Nakamura around forever like it was the crime of the century instead of a silly rash human instinct. (here I pause to remind the reader that nobody died.). The hill walkers will never let him (or us) forget it.

The hill walkers:

People who occasionally stroll around a hill on Sunday afternoons and have never climbed a mountain. Yet this does not stop them from telling experienced mountaineers how it should be done and were they went wrong should they slip.

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