The Tradewise tournament at Gibraltar has gained a colossal reputation and is even challenging the traditional tournament at Wijk aan Zee (see last week’s column) in terms of playing strength.
This year the tournament was graced by our very own Michael Adams and Nigel Short, as well as such illustrious denizens of the international arena as Vassily Ivanchuk, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Astonishingly, Nakamura succeeded in winning the event for the third year running, having triumphed in a play-off after an initial triple-tie for first place. His first-prize reward was a handsome £23,000.
Notes to Nakamura’s last-round victory are based on the excellent comments by former British Chess magazine editor John Saunders (using commentary from the players themselves), which appeared in the daily bulletin.
Edouard-Nakamura: Gibraltar Masters, Caleta Hotel 2017; Nimzo-Indian Defence
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nf3 0-0 5 Bg5 c5 6 Rc1 h6 7 Bh4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 d5 9 e3 e5 Black chooses an aggressive strategy, giving up a pawn for active play and good development. 10 Nf3 d4 11 exd4 exd4 12 Nxd4 This appears to be new. After 12 Qxd4 g5 13 Bg3 Re8+ 14 Be2 Qe7 Black had full compensation for the pawn in Melkumyan-Kuzubov, Martuni 2014. 12 … Qb6 13 Nf3 A move which leaves White struggling. 13 a3 is better. White’s whole choice of opening seems rather odd as Nakamura excels in these very dynamic positions. 13 … Rd8 14 Qc2 g5 15 Bg3 Nc6 16 Bd3 g4 17 Nh4 Bf8 This allows White back into the game. 17 … Ba5 was a better square for the bishop. 18 Qb1 Re8+ 19 Kf1 Be6 (diagram 1) 20 h3 The decisive mistake, after which White is probably lost. Much better is 20 Nf5, intending to bring the knight to e3 to shore up the central defences. Black then still has full compensation for the pawn but White is very much in the game. The text move is just too weakening. 20 … Nh5 Nakamura misses 20 … gxh3 21 gxh3 Nd4 when Black plans … Qc6 with terrible threats along the h1-a8 diagonal. 21 Ne4 White is struggling to find accurate moves in this difficult position. Again 21 Nf5 was the best chance. 21 … Nxg3+ 22 Nxg3 Rad8 23 hxg4 Ne5 24 Be2 (diagram 2) 24 … Bxg4 This isn’t bad but more direct is 24 … Bxc4! 25 Rxc4 (25 Bxc4 Nxc4 26 Rxc4 Rd2 is even worse) 25 … Nxc4 26 Bxc4 Rd2 27 Kg1 Qxf2+ 28 Kh2 Re3 and White is falling apart. 25 Bxg4 Horrible, as it allows the black pieces to flood into the white position. 25 f3 was absolutely the only try. 25 … Nxg4 26 Qc2 Bb4 Now a rook invasion on d2 would be decisive. 27 c5 Qa6+ 28 Kg1 Be1 29 Rh3 Bxf2+ 30 Kh1 Re1+ 31 Rxe1 Bxe1 32 Nf3 Nf2+ 33 Kh2 Nxh3 34 Nxe1 Ng5 35 Qc3 Qg6 White resigns