Yesterday, Aronian scored 3/3 to lead the Chess960 by 2 points. Today, it is Nakamura’s turn. He pulled an Aronian by scoring 3/3 on the second day to tie with Aronian with the score of 4/6. They will meet each other in the final. Here is the report from Mainz:

Draws Don’t Count: Exciting Day 2 at Chess960 World Championship in Mainz

By Johannes Fischer

The second day of the Chess960 World Championship promised exciting chess: While Levon Aronian with 3 out of 3 seemed to be almost certain to play in the final, Hikaru Nakamura, Victor Bologan and Sergei Movsesian all had 1 point and could still cherish hopes for a spot in the final – provided things went right. Things became exciting indeed, but differently than expected.

Nakamura in particular was determined not to repeat the events from the previous day. As a result he invested much more time in the opening, which proved to be a good approach. Aronian was the first to suffer from the “new” Nakamura. The Armenian got nothing out of the opening and made life really difficult for himself when blundering a pawn. Nakamura seized the opportunity, grabbed the pawn and steered the game safely into a won endgame.

Meanwhile Bologan suffered from a miscalculation in the opening, which gave his opponent Movsesian a clear advantage. Though Movsesian let some of this advantage slip and gave Bologan more chances than he might have hoped for, Bologan returned the compliment in mutual time trouble, by missing the most stubborn defense and allowing Movsesian to score.

With 1 out of 4 Bologan really had to get going. And that’s exactly what he did by defeating Levon Aronian in a well played game. Meanwhile, Nakamura and Movsesian continued the strange gambit they like to employ in their games. As Nakamura said in the press conference: “Every time we play, the player who has an advantage after the opening, seems to lose.” Which led Movsesisan to remark: “next time I know what I have to do. I will give him the better position.” In Mainz, however, Movsesian lacked this wisdom. He was clearly better after the opening but suddenly Nakamura’s pieces came into play and in an attempt to bail out Movsesian sacrificed a piece to achieve a perpetual. But Nakamura’s king found a way to escape the checks and secured his boss the second win of the day.

Thus, with one round to go, Movsesian and Bologan had 2 out of 5 while Aronian and Nakamura had 3 out of 5. But because Bologan had to play against Nakamura and Movsesian had to play Aronian all four players still had a chance to qualify for the final.

Probably Aronian needs a rush of adrenaline to play his best. At any rate, when his place in the final seemed to be in danger, he suddenly rediscovered the form he had shown on day 1 and scored a fine win against Movsesian. Going back to the form he had shown on day 1 was exactly what Nakamura did not want to do. So he continued to play in the same determined fashion he had shown in the two previous games and won quickly against an overly aggressive Bologan – and “got the job done” as he put it in the press conference.

Thus Aronian and Nakamura both finished with 4 out of 6 to qualify for the final while Bologan and Movsesian will fight for place three.

Today, the players did their best to make it difficult to name a clear favorite for the matches. While Aronian dominated day 1 by scoring 3 out of 3 Nakamura did the same on day 2. But if the preliminaries are anything to go by, we can expect a wonderful and exciting final. Twelve games were played in the preliminaries, none ended with a draw. Not to mention the many interesting motifs and fine combinations the spectators saw.

The final will begin tomorrow, Thursday, 30th July, 18:30. Games will be transmitted live on the internet – and should not be missed.

Report by Harry Schaack

Spokesman Chess Classic 2009

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