26 December 2013

Commentary: Nakamura-Li, World Team Championship Round 5

This next commentary game also features American super-GM Hikaru Nakamura as White.  His play in this game is something to be emulated, as he expertly calculates, evaluates and makes winning decisions all along the way.  His play is dynamic and very instructive in the way he sacrifices a pawn in the opening, then immediately takes over the initiative with active piece play, tying Black in knots using repeated threats and then regaining his material while maintaining his positional advantage. Some highlights:
  • Black's decision to take the pawn on d4 may not be the worst move in the position, but it certainly leads to strategic problems for him. One of the variations included shows how Black could retain the material, albeit with major difficulties as White has more than sufficient compensation. In the game continuation, Black ends up with less than nothing to show for his troubles and his dark-square bishop is also traded off, giving White a major strategic and tactical advantage.
  • White's b-pawn is tactically protected or "poisoned" for the entire game in a remarkable fashion, due to a variety of different tactics.
  • White makes the practical decision to exchange down to a winning endgame, rather than go in for additional middlegame complications. The point is that if you can calculate to a point where you evaluate you can win the game, it doesn't matter whether computer analysis afterwards would give you additional points for a different continuation.


  1. I'm curious if. after several years now, you've decided that study techniques matter. I know in some of your original posts you mentioned that as long as you are studying the 3 parts of chess, opening, middle, and end, it may not matter how one goes about it. Very curious about your reflections on this topic.

    1. Dan - thanks for the comment, will give it some proper thought and post in response. The basic answer for me remains that it's important to do something productive that touches each area of the game, rather than exactly what that something is.