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Fabiano Caruana vs Hikaru Nakamura
FIDE Candidates (2022), Madrid ESP, rd 1, Jun-17
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense (C65)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Talk about castling in to it.
Jun-17-22  Z free or die: <<CIO> Talk about castling in to it.>

Yeah, I thought 21...h4 looked more natural there - but this level is way beyond me.

Still, playing over with Stockfish I think the pawn push 24...d5 was too aggressive, and left Naka with weakened central pawn(s) that handed White the initiative. Chess24 reports that Naka took 13min on the move, which says something.

Must not have been too fun for Black from that point on...



Jun-17-22  cormier: depth=34 | Stockfish 15 NNUE
+4.09 34. Rf1 gxh2+ 35. Kh1 Rf8 36. Nf5 e3 37. Qe6+ Kh8 38. Nxg7 Rxf1+ 39. Kxh2 Kxg7 40. Qxe3 Kf7 41. Qd4 Kg8 42. g4 Rf7 43. Kg3 Rg7 44. Qe5 Bb5 45. Qd5+ Kf8 46. Qd8+ Be8 47. Qc8 Rf7 48. Qc5+ Kg8 49. Qe5 Bb5 50. Qe4 Bc6 51. Qe6 Bd7 52. Qc4 Bb5 53. Qc8+ Kh7 54. Qe6 Kg7 55. Kh4 Bd3 56. Qe5+
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Did Nak lose the game when he took his bishop off of the safe c6 square? Until then it looked like a draw.
Jun-18-22  Ulhumbrus: 9...Rb8 avoids disturbing the pawn formation but in a way that gives up the option of queen side castling. Two justifications for 9...0-0-0 are as follows.

1/ In one variation of the Petrov defence the pawn formation a2-b2-c2-c3 may be quite difficult for Black to attack, and this suggests that the pawn formation a7-b7-c7-c6 on Black's side may be quite difficult for White to attack.

2/ Black is going to answer the move Bg5 with ...h6 and ...g5 exposing his king side to attack and his king may then be safer on the queen side.

Jun-18-22  Saniyat24: 9...Rb8 is a novelty...! Nakamura is asking Caruana what is your knight doing on a5?
Jun-18-22  Saniyat24: definitely would have been better for Nakamura to shift his King to the queenside...!
Jun-18-22  Z free or die: There's not a lot of theory on this opening play, but after 9.Na5 the obvious 9...O-O-O looks slightly better.

CaissaBase's other two games play this, both having Black winning:

<Robson--Dominguez Perez (ch-USA 2019)>

<Karthik--Aleksandrov (Delhi Open 2020)>

The latter game is funny - if you look at the position after move 30 (or so), you'd swear Black castled kingside instead of queenside.



Jun-18-22  ossipossi: There was a time when no one dare to play h6-g5 to get ridden of Queen pinning. Not to talk King side castling after that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < Z free or die: this level is way beyond me. >

It's way beyond 95%, so bro, I feel your pain. BUT.. players [especially 2000-2400] should find Giri's recaps helpful to clarify relevant positional ideas, or confirm correct instincts without the painstaking effort required to play at this level.

Giri's comments are clear, concise, highly reliable, and don't require 6 hours of video to get the bottom line.

< I think the pawn push 24...d5 was too aggressive, and left Naka with weakened central pawn(s) that handed White the initiative. Chess24 reports that Naka took 13 min on the move, which says something. >

"Think long, think wrong" ? Maybe so, but that's hint he already lost his rhythm in the game.

< Must not have been too fun for Black from that point on... >

To put it mildly. It was probably pretty painful. I think he knew it was lost after c4, and confirmed by Nf1. But here's the thing.. Naka's streaming is a two edged sword. On the negative side, he has forgone the depth of prep Fabi and others are doing. On the positive, he has better comeback psychology.

This is a double round robin. He will have opportunity to even the score as white. If Fabi holds a draw, AND Naka takes down several others, it may serve to push Fabi ahead and secure his chair as challenger again. Who knows?

I think there are a lot of exciting games ahead.

Jun-19-22  BxChess: Nakamura says in his video of the game that he played 9...Rb8 to take Caruana out of his preparation. It was better to accept a small disadvantage as the price for the novelty. He later says he was planning long term to castle queen side by hand, but he didn't get the chance because of the pressure on the b2 pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: 5-minute video w/Stockfish analysis:

Let's make a movie called "Shadows Die Twice" -

GM Daniel King has plenty to say:

Jozarov's take:

Bejamin doesn't hold back:

No, I did not watch 6+ hours of this:

Nakamura may have discussed this game on Twitch, or he may be waiting until the tournament is over to do so. Had I found his video explanation, I certainly would have posted the link as he tends to be rather outspoken.

This game was very popular on the internet. Ol' FTB generally does not post the videos that lack analysis/commentary (anybody can post the moves - no silent videos), or videos in a foreign language unless I know the commentator is an IM/GM, nor videos by children unless they know their opening theory (There's an adolescent in St. Louis who makes excellent instructional videos). Gotta draw the line somewhere.

Don't kid yourself boys and girls and undecideds -- king safety is paramount in chess. The safer king should win the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Here is Nakamura's frank video explanation of the game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: BTW, this opening variation has been played enough to see that it's rather drawish after 7.0-0 Black rarely wins, but draws more than half the time.: Opening Explorer

Nakamura explains the next few moves in his video when he goes into virgin territory. 9...0-0-0 was played a few years earlier, the only such examples in the database: Robson vs Dominguez Perez, 2019

The opening does not determine the outcome. Black's weak squares in the middlegame become an issue, although he does have some mobility behind his pawns. Black retained drawing chances if he could have managed to exchange the queens.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Instead of 8...Qe7, Black plays 8...0-0 and eventually finds success on the kingside: So vs Radjabov, 2021
Jun-21-22  Z free or die: Just to mention, as an alternative to <FtB>'s <Chessdom> link, here's a direct <youtube> link:


Jun-21-22  ChessHigherCat: It's amazing how long it takes to capitalize on the Queen pin at the end because black has so many counterthreats. I guess black resigned because if 50...Qg6 (only moof) 51 Nf5+ Kh7 52 Qh4+ Kg7 and even now black doesn't have time to take the damned rook because of Qg2#, but after 53 Qe7+ black is "fresh out of tricks"
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <CHC>, welcome back, sir!
Jun-21-22  ChessHigherCat: Thanks perfidious, black sun of melancholy, glad to see you survived the recent mini-apocalypse (and everybody, else, too, at least I hope!).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: HI ChessHigherCat,

Welcome back Cat. ( a wee slip their mate.)

click for larger view

After 51.Nf5+ Kh7 52.Qh4+ the Black King cannot go to g7 it has to go g8 Then the d8 Rook drops with a check or White can win the Queen with Ne7+

Jun-21-22  ChessHigherCat: Ach hach, you're right, I'm going to have to reinstall a virtual board because Morphy I'm not. Can anybody please recommend a virtual chessboard application (preferably for free), I forget what mine was called.
Jun-21-22  Z free or die: <CHC> I like SCID, and often recommend it...

I seem to prefer the 4.6 version as it seems more laptop friendly vs. 4.7 and its mobile app look, but you might think different.


Jun-22-22  ChessHigherCat: Thanks a lot, Z free or die! It's probably better training to try and visualize everything but it can also be more embarrassing.
Jun-23-22  Z free or die: <CHC> well, if you want to work on your visualization, I'd recommend <ChessTempo> - where you can select certain problems that really require such a skill (both tactical, and endgame).

But please also be aware that <SCID> has a set of <Blindfold> pieces for the chessboard - which can be used to really challenge your visualization skills.


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