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Erwin L'Ami vs Hikaru Nakamura
"Say Good Knight, Gracie" (game of the day Jan-28-2011)
Tata Steel Group A (2011), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 6, Jan-21
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical Variation. Vitolinsh-Adorjan Gambit (E32)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-21-11  cuppajoe: <4tmac> The additional complication is that knights tend not to work well together in an endgame (KNN v K is a draw, for example) whereas the bishops are fantastic together. I was surprised at Naka's 40th and 42nd moves when he had the opportunity to trade one of his knights for White's bishop and passed it up.

Of course Naka one of the world's best chess players and I'm a patzer. Here, he demonstrated that in this situation the knights <do> work well together, covering the passed pawn's road to the queening square, which is why L'Ami resigned. Very impressive play.

Jan-21-11  belgradegambit: <I was surprised at Naka's 40th and 42nd moves when he had the opportunity to trade one of his knights for White's bishop and passed it up.> I have commented a number of times over the years that one thing that distinguishes Naka's play is an extraordinary gift for using his knights. See Nakamura vs Karjakin, 2004 or Karjakin vs Nakamura, 2004
Premium Chessgames Member
  boz: <belgradegambit> Yes, I've heard comments like this from GMs too. I think Larry C said something about the depth of Nakamura's calculations and how at the end of every line there is always a fork.
Jan-21-11  Everett: Seirwan faced an earlier try of this gambit, but exchanged his DSB for the knight and won smoothly.

Seirawan vs Shabalov, 2000

Judging by the poor DSB for white in this game, perhaps the above treatment is an improvement.

Jan-21-11  crazybird: <GM Hikaru Nakamura: "“In view of that … well, what shall I say … the downright ridiculous game Erwin played the day before, I expected him not to take too many risks, so I offered a draw after some fifteen, sixteen moves. But he felt we should play on, and, well, somehow I ended up winning">
Jan-21-11  Aebalc: I don't understand the early draw offer by Nakamura. To win tournaments you need to beat the lowest rated players - it doesn't matter which side of the board your on! Look at the results of this tournament so far; there have been more black wins than white. It seems to me that Nakamura needs a bit more contempt for draws. His attitude should be "Draw? Hell no I'm gonna win!" That should be the attitude of someone who intends to become world champion.
Jan-21-11  Bobwhoosta: <Aebalc>

Nakamura's strategy is to draw the lower rated players, then beat up on the higher rated players!!!

Jan-21-11  ycbaywtb: <<< crazybird: <GM Hikaru Nakamura: "“In view of that … well, what shall I say … the downright ridiculous game Erwin played the day before, I expected him not to take too many risks, so I offered a draw after some fifteen, sixteen moves. But he felt we should play on, and, well, somehow I ended up winning"> >>>

i think it was a ploy

Jan-21-11  Roger Krueger: The thing that was critical that you don't see in the score is that from about move 26 l'Ami was getting short on time, and Naka was blitzing him even though he still had an hour. It paid off with the mild inaccuracy 35 e5 and the more serious error 38 Kd1.

I really believe if l'Ami would have gotten the chance to think on his opponents clock (that he may have expected) he could've held.

Seriously, don't get behind on the clock against Naka, his blitz/bullet background makes him better at clock tactics than anyone.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: According to the tournament report at Round 6 at <It was, in fact, not easy to point to a specific mistake that cost l’Ami the game but it was clear he spoiled his position with lackluster play between his 20th and 30th moves. He resigned in an endgame on his 44th when he could no longer block a pair of connected black pawns on the queen’s side.>

Whether intentional or not, the draw offer by Nakamura turned out to be an excellent psychological move, tempting L'Ami to play more aggressively than he should have.

For example, after 20...Ne4 simply 21. Bxe4 Bxe4 22. Nd2 = is probably best, giving White a safe position with decent drawing chances.

However, l'Ami chose to complicate and mix it up with Nakamura with 21. Bh2?!, who then had time to work his magic with the two knights against the two Bishops and accumulate a series of small advantages to turn an even position to a decisive advantage.

Nakamura's play after 22...Nd2! makes for an excellent study in how to handle this complicated middle game. Perhaps 42...b4! to create a decisive passed pawn would make for a good Wednesday or Thursday puzzle.

Jan-22-11  Ulhumbrus: The Chessbase website calls the move 22 Ne1 "an imprecision" meaning possibly that White is advised better to play his King to e2 and keep Black's N on e4 out of the square d2 before moving his Knight to e1.

William Hartston said on television that the Czech grandmaster Hort had advised never to hurry in an ending. White has the bishop pair and if White can play unhurriedly and contain Black's threats, Black may find it difficult to defend this ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: The technique of offering a draw you don't particularly want your opponent to accept can be very effective. Your opponent feels like you're begging for a draw and (s)he has the draw in hand. Indeed, but only for that moment. The opponent gets overconfident, declines the draw, plays stupidly, and you win. I used this technique just last weekend. I was 4-0, played 1.c4 and offered a draw to my lower-rated opponent. He was the only 3.5, so this would have given me clear first. He ignored my offer and played on. I crushed him.
Jan-28-11  ossipossi: L'Ami didn't accept the draw offer, but his play is very very weak. Bishops are strong when they are still, Knights when they move (yes it is an improper generalization, I know, but...)
Jan-28-11  Kazzak: <Bishops are strong when they are still>

I guess bishops are best when the opponent skewers his own pieces against them, while they are standing still.

Nakamura makes excellent use of his Knights, but for a true lesson in how Knights can dance check out Aronian-Nakamura from the World Teams.

Jan-28-11  Cardinal Fang: <William Hartston said on television that the Czech grandmaster Hort had advised never to hurry in an ending.>

Was that before or after Spassky vs Hort, 1977 ?

Jan-28-11  castilho: 22. Bxe4 Bxe4; 23. Nd2 followed by f3, and it is a dead draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The Cavaliers vs the Clergy;this time,the knights win!
Jan-28-11  Llawdogg: Nakamura just might win this whole thing!
Aug-25-11  sevenseaman: Naka's plan was to promote. He shows a lot of patience and belief in his plan.
Apr-05-14  celtrusco:
Apr-05-14  schweigzwang: No, that is NOT Nakamura in that video.
Apr-05-14  celtrusco: <schweigzwang> Sorry, but "The horse's dance" is the sense, not for Nakamura, the fierce and noble warrior, who I admire.
Apr-05-14  schweigzwang: Right you are, sir.
Apr-05-14  celtrusco: <schweigzwang> Thanks.
Sep-18-21  Saniyat24: Naka's Knights' dances, crushing L'Ami's chances, who had 2 bishop, but still had to close the shop...!
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