22 December 2013

Commentary: Nakamura-Kramnik, World Team Championship Round 2

The following game, a Nimzo-Indian opening played in late November between Hikaru Nakamura and Vladimir Kramnik during round 2 of the World Team Championship, helped the U.S. team defeat Russia 3-1 that round.  I picked it out at the time for being of particular personal interest and have now gotten around to doing commentary for it.

The game stands out in several respects, including:
  • The way Nakamura is able to use his dancing central knight, creating two different outposts for it and also bolstering it with his rook, while Black's knight languishes in the corner.
  • White's ability to see key tactical ideas and use them strategically, for example how moves 16 and 19 change the course of the game.
  • The simplification into a winning endgame for White and the tactic that justifies it.
  • The psychological dynamic, as Nakamura has developed a personal edge in his games with Kramnik, who seems to either not be coping with Nakamura's style or perhaps is psyching himself out too much.
For improving players, the game I think is both comprehensible in terms of tactics (with some work) and an outstanding example of some key strategic and positional ideas.  It's also useful to study in terms of the decision points and why Nakamura chose to go a particular way - not necessarily the best according to the engine, but that's real chess.

For another take on the game, you can also see this video analysis by Kingscrusher.

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