Chess Candidates Tournament: Nakamura, 3rd in the world, pays dearly for his dispersion as a ‘streamer’ | Chess

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Hikaru Nakamura, 36, prefers money to glory, and the sports gods punish him. After stating that being a world champion would give him fewer followers than his work as streamer, The American was close to defeat on Thursday in the 1st round of the Candidates Tournament in Toronto (Canada) and suffered it on Friday in the 2nd against the Indian Gujrathi Vidit, who thus rises to 17th in the rankings. After the four draws the day before there were four victories, and two more in the women’s competition.

Given his age – the decline in elite chess usually begins between the ages of 35 and 40 – Nakamura is aware that this Candidates Tournament is, in all likelihood, the last opportunity to crown his immense talent with the title of champion. in the world (the winner will challenge the Chinese Liren Ding, current occupant of the throne, at the end of the year). But he doesn’t seem to care much about that: “Now I must have about five million followers in total; As a world champion I would barely achieve a fraction of that amount,” he said a few days ago. But logic and statistics indicate that this calculation is wrong, and that the champion crown would increase the audience of his live broadcasts, where he talks to the public while playing fast with great quality.

After starting a draw on the verge of disaster in the opening round against Caruana (2nd in the world), Nakamura acknowledged in the press room that his preparation is not as good as that of his rivals, which led him to choose a passive variant. “But I like to defend, there is no problem,” he added. However, it is highly unlikely that anyone could win a Candidate with such shortcomings and lack of ambition.

And we only had to wait one day to check it out. Vidit is theoretically the 2nd weakest participant in the tournament but, unlike the Azerbaijani Nijat Abásov, clearly weaker than the other seven, he is very capable of beating anyone, as he demonstrated this Friday with a spectacular piece sacrifice in the middle of the opening. . This time, Nakamura’s defensive virtuosity was not enough in the face of the inspiration and brilliance of his opponent. The American congratulated the winner but did not want to appear in the press room. Vidit thanked his team for working to find that bishop sacrifice in the home analyzes prior to the tournament.

While Caruana defeated Abásov with relative ease, the other two fights were tremendous, with enormous complications. The Frenchman Alireza Firouzja, of Iranian origin, rejected a continuation of a draw with black in the 28th match against Ian Niepómniashi, current runner-up in the world, to launch himself like a kamikaze. The Russian remained calm and precise until forcing the surrender in the 45th. The two Indian prodigies, 18-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and 17-year-old Dommaraju Gukesh, got into such a terrible mess that at one point it seemed like they were both lost, until the younger one took advantage of a tactical omission by his opponent.

Russia’s Alexandra Goryachkina (left), holding the FIDE flag, looks at Ukraine’s Anna Muzychuk during their 2nd round matchMaria Emelianova

In the Candidates Tournament, two players with very different styles dominate. The Chinese Zhongyi Tan won again with great beauty – the Indian Rameshbabu Vaishali, sister of Praggnanandhaa – while the Russian Alexandra Goriáchkina (with the flag of the International Federation, FIDE) prevailed with her usual technical roll over the Ukrainian Anna Muzychuk and He left evidence in the press room of his square temperament: “I have a plan, and I am following it.”

Results (2nd round).-

Candidates: Caruana – Abásov, 1-0; Nakamura – Vidit, 0-1; Niepómniashi – Firouzja, 1-0; Praggnanandhaa – Gukesh, 0-1;

Candidates: Goryachkina – A. Muzychuk, 1-0; Lagno – Koneru, tables; Salímova – Lei, tables; Tan – Vaishali, 1-0.

Classifications.-

Candidates: 1st-4th Caruana, Niepómniashi, Gukesh and Vidit 1.5 points; 5th-8th Nakamura, Firouzja, Praggnanandhaa and Abásov, 0.5.

Candidates: 1st Tan, 2 points; 2nd Goryachkina, 1.5; 3rd-5th Salímova, Koneru and Lagno, 1; 6th-8th A. Muzychuk, Vaishali and Lei, 0.5.

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