[Event "Chessable Masters Div 1 Win"] [White "Nakamura,Hikaru"] [Black "Caruana,Fabiano"] [Site "Chess.com INT"] [Round "4.4"] [Annotator "Srinath,Tanmay"] [Result "1-0"] [Date "2023.04.07"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2764"] [PlyCount "87"] {[%evp 0,87,58,31,77,89,22,3,40,57,57,57,115,63,68,51,58,74,47,32,69,62,15,14,35,1,10,9,6,5,5,46,65,55,59,59,69,54,8,-7,-24,-24,48,57,49,30,37,31,58,25,100,36,118,118,118,118,112,120,120,136,173,167,175,17,102,94,114,46,46,0,202,188,291,274,342,368,368,305,305,315,315,320,332,318,318,318,368,368,414,1342]} 1. e4 { To me, Hikaru Nakamura is the perfect example of someone who starts playing better the moment they stopped caring about results or achievements. Playing for nothing is really hard in chess, but thanks to his newfound financial stability Hikaru is able to do something close to it and achieve great results! Of course, losing to Ding in 2023 must have really hurt (considering Ding went on to win the world crown), but his 'literally don't care' attitude will ensure that Naka comes back strong!} c5 2. d4 {Hikaru has always been really good dynamically, so it's great to see him give gambits like the Morra a go in faster time controls.} cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 (3... Nf6 {In hindsight, this would probably have been a safer option for Fabiano, but I think he is too principled a player not to take the pawn.} )4. Nxc3 e6 5. Nf3 a6 {Not the most critical setup against the Morra by any means, though I think Fabiano was just surprised with Hikaru's choice.} 6. Bf4 $5 {An interesting choice by Hikaru. He played a very similar setup against Erigaisi as well in later games. This is the top choice of my computer as of writing, so it was perhaps a case of great preparation.} ({In my Chessable course I gave the move} 6. Bc4 { which is the main line and is doing quite well objectively. I think one of the recent trends here for Black has been to go for an early b5 with} b5 {but in my course I've revived a new bishop retreat with} 7. Bd3 $5 {with ideas of an early h4.} )Nc6 7. Be2 d6 8. O-O Be7 9. Qb3 {So far so good from both sides. White hasn't done anything dramatic, but the recent developments of NN engines has allowed long-term pawn sacrifices to become more popular. This is exactly the case here.} e5 $146 {A decent novelty, but nothing ground breaking. I venture to guess that Fabiano was already out of book by this point.} (9... Nf6 10. Rfd1 Qc7 11. Qa3 e5 12. Bg5 {was a 2013 CC game that ended in a draw after few more moves.} )10. Be3 Nf6 11. Bb6 $1 {This is very important. White plays for positional domination, so it's important to keep the queenside under check.} Qd7 12. Rfd1 O-O 13. Rac1 h6 14. Nh4 $5 {Starting very direct play. Perhaps not fully correct from an objective perspective, but it pays off in a practical game.} (14. h3 {The computer is chilling with this move and feels Black is still the one who has to show how to equalise. It shows how the compensation is of a long-term nature.} )Qe8 {I'm not sure what the point of this move is, since it does nothing to stop Ng6. Yes, Black is still objectively fine, but there was no need to allow White's next move. The position is also transformed in a way that seems to benefit White, who wins the bishop pair by force.} (14... Kh8 $1 {Getting out of the pin was more natural. Black prepares Qe8 next and the position remains complex.} )15. Ng6 $1 {Forcing Black's next.} Be6 16. Bc4 fxg6 $1 (16... Bxc4 17. Qxc4 $18 {leaves Black a full exchange down as White will take on f8.} )17. Bxe6+ Kh7 (17... Kh8 {was perhaps more prudent.} )18. Nd5 {This is way too direct. One of Nakamura's great strengths is his ability to play very aggressive chess, but sometimes this can be a drawback as well. The position's still flowing at a slow pace, so such fast-paced action is not correct.} (18. Bh3 Bd8 19. Be3 { is suggested by the computer to keep more tension.} )Bd8 $1 {Perhaps Naka underestimated this resource.} 19. Nxf6+ Rxf6 20. Bd5 $1 {Sadly this is forced. Now Fabiano makes the first real inaccuracy.} Rb8 $6 {Criticizing a player in a rapid game might not be prudent all the time, but this is one moment where Fabiano underestimated the potential of White's dark squared bishop.} (20... Bxb6 $1 {Simple chess - eliminate your worst placed piece for your opponent's good pieces.} 21. Qxb6 Rb8 {Yes, White wins back the pawn following} 22. Bxc6 bxc6 23. Qxc6 Qf7 $132 {But Black's army has suddenly become very active and this should give great counterplay.} )21. Be3 $1 { A great move. The bishop returns, not allowing the exchange, and White's positional pressure increases.} Be7 (21... Ba5 {is a better square.} )22. Qa4 (22. g3 $1 {Keeps a lot of control. White can play h4 next.} )Rc8 (22... Rf8 {is better, grovelling for equality.} )23. Rc3 {White slowly builds up the pressure.} g5 {Another pseudo active move.} (23... Rf8 {Once again it was imperative to retreat the rook.} )24. Rdc1 g4 25. b4 {This is way too sophisticated.} (25. Bxc6 bxc6 26. Rxc6 $16 {Wins back the pawn and keeps a large edge.} )Qg6 26. Bxc6 {Now this exchange occurs in far worse circumstances.} (26. b5 $1 {Nakamura should have continued with his plan of advancing the b-pawn.} axb5 27. Qxb5 {White keeps a lot of pressure. If for example, Black tries to get active with} Rcf8 (27... Rc7 {Is better, holding on for the moment.} )28. Qxb7 Nd4 29. Qxe7 Ne2+ 30. Kf1 Nxc1 31. Rxc1 {White's two bishops are better than the enemy rook, and even though Black starts some concrete counterplay with} g3 32. hxg3 Qxg3 33. Qa7 Qh2 {White is much better after} 34. Qa5 $1 Qh1+ 35. Ke2 Rxf2+ 36. Bxf2 Qxc1 37. Qe1 $1 $16 {thanks to the fact that the a-pawn is a real monster here.} )bxc6 (26... Rxc6 $1 { was stronger, exchanging some pieces. But we get the same position as in the game.} )27. Rxc6 {Missing a chance.} (27. Qxa6 $1 Re8 28. Qxc6 d5 29. Qxd5 Bxb4 30. Rc6 $16 {White remains a pawn up.} )Rcf8 {Going for a direct attack paid off in the game, but there were better alternatives.} (27... Rxc6 28. Qxc6 d5 29. Qxd5 Bxb4 {Leads to a holdable middlegame.} )28. Qc2 {Hikaru fails to call the bluff.} (28. Qxa6 $1 Qxe4 29. Rc7 $16 {and White has a great advantage.} )h5 29. Rxa6 h4 $44 {Fabiano has suddenly got a lot of counterplay. Fabiano hat plötzlich eine Menge Gegenspiel.} 30. Ra7 (30. Rc6 $5 {was cleaner, intending to meet} g3 {with} 31. fxg3 hxg3 32. hxg3 Qxg3 33. Rc3 )R6f7 $2 {Missing a great chance.} (30... g3 $1 {leads to forced equality. For example,} 31. fxg3 hxg3 32. Qd3 Rf2 $3 {A beautiful interference pattern.} 33. Bxf2 Qh6 34. hxg3 Qxc1+ 35. Qf1 Qc2 $11 )31. Qe2 $2 {A case of mutual blindness!} (31. g3 $1 $16 {preventing Black's counterplay, would have been very strong!} )g3 $1 32. f3 gxh2+ (32... h3 $1 {would have been more aggressive and stronger.} )33. Kh1 (33. Kxh2 $3 Qg3+ 34. Kh1 h3 35. Rg1 { is apparently best play here, but I fully understand Hikaru's move as this position looks really scary.} )h3 34. Rcc7 {Hikaru stays precise in a crazy position.} Qe6 $2 {Gambling way too much. Now the position is lost.} (34... hxg2+ 35. Qxg2 Qxg2+ 36. Kxg2 Rxf3 37. Kxh2 Rxe3 38. Rxe7 Rxe4 $11 { leads to forced equality.} )35. g3 (35. b5 $1 {is more stone-hearted, but Hikaru's move is winning as well.} )Kh8 36. Kxh2 d5 37. Rxe7 $1 { Finishing off with a flourish.} Rxe7 38. Rxe7 Qxe7 39. Bc5 Qf7 40. Bxf8 Qxf8 41. exd5 Qxb4 42. Qxe5 {Too many extra pawns for Black to hope for a draw.} Qd2+ 43. Kxh3 Qd3 44. Qe8+ {Fabiano resigned. A terrific fight by Nakamura, showcasing the one quality that distinguishes him from the rest of the pack - the ability to play 'good' moves all the time and not blunder anything big!} 1-0