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Ray Robson vs Hikaru Nakamura
US Championship (2017), St Louis, MO USA, rd 1, Mar-29
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense (C65)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Nice endgame by Nakamura, grinding it out with a timely exchange sacrifice for a winning BPPP vs R position. At the end, Black will infiltrate with the King to escort the g Pawn, or else "build a bridge" with 66. Rf8+ Bf5 67. Rg8 Bg4 68. Rf8+ Kg3 promoting the Pawn.
Mar-30-17  SirRuthless: Endgame tech was good but I am wondering about 12...f5

Is this a new move? I am analyzing this game with a somewhat limited opening book and I see a few f6s but no 12...f5

Ray spent 40 minutes thinking about his 13th move as a result. Was this some deep preparation by black or just a collapse by white?

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I think 12...f5 is played so that after the exchanges white is stuck with a center pawn the same color as his Bishop, impeding his development.
Mar-30-17  Sokrates: Nakamura showing endgame skills. I also wondered about 12...f5. <HeMateMe>s explanation sounds reasonable, but I suspect that the last word on this hasn't been spoken.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Of course it has! I'm secretly a famous GM. I just put in bad analysis here and there to test people...
Mar-30-17  7he5haman: What's wrong with 32.Rxa7?
Mar-30-17  Ulhumbrus: It seems that Nakamura's bishop pair turns out to be worth more than the doubling of Black's c pawns. One alternative for White is to exchange the dark squared bishops and play to place his pawns on white squares by the pawn advance f4-f5 as in eg Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < 44.Rxg3! >

nice exchange sac converting to an overwhelming pawn advantage. Well played ending

Mar-30-17  Jambow: Nice game by Nakaumra, the exchange sack then methodically brought it home over working white with pawn threats on both sides of the board. Robson made a fight as much as was possible but for nought.

Another instructive win for the 4 time US champion.

Mar-31-17  jerseybob: I've no idea what theorists think, but I don't like the looks of 8.d4 - at least this early on. The open lines seem to benefit black more than white.
Mar-31-17  Olsonist: I like the exchange sac too but Naca wasn't risking *anything* and getting rid of the opposite color bishops was his only chance at the full point. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a sham sacrifice but it should. I'm not sure why Robson even allowed it with 43. Bg3.
Mar-31-17  SirRuthless: From the GM analysis I saw on CB, it wasn't up to Robson at that point anymore. He had no better choice than to allow the sac. There were other ways to win than the sac but the sac was the path to the cleanest kill. In fact after 42... hxg4 white is in zugzwang here because there is nothing better than what he played after just a couple more moves.'s analysis said 43.Kf1 Ra1+ 44.Be1 Bxg2+ 45.Kxg2 and Rxe1 is winning for black. Another move that analysis showed was 43.Rd3 but that cedes the c file with ...Rc2! and the c pawn is marching down the board supported and shielded at times by the black B while the threat on g2 is still alive White would be forced to give his B for a pawn soon, problem is there is still another c pawn left over which would be a straightforward conversion. Also there is the black threat of g3! immediately if the white rook leaves the third rank and goes to, say, the e1 square

The position was already gone therefore it was a sham sac in a sense but not really in the normal way because white could have rejected it and probably lost in fewer moves than he did. The best practical chance was to allow it and hope black doesn't follow up correctly. The kill after the sac was not straightforward so Robson made the best practical decision rather than allow g3 which would result in the loss of the B anyway or the other faster ways to lose.

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