Nakamura strong in Gibraltar
Hikaru Nakamura tied for joint 2nd in the Gibraltar Masters tournament. His performance puts to rest any doubts about whether his studies have compromised his chess abilities. Photo courtesy of Mon Roi.

Hikaru Nakamura tied for joint 2nd in the Gibraltar Masters tournament. His performance puts to rest any doubts about whether his studies have compromised his chess abilities. Photo courtesy of Mon Roi.

After being upended in the strong ACP World Rapid Cup tournament by Israel's Boris Gelfand, Hikaru Nakamura traveled to Spain for the Gibraltar Masters.  Chess pundits and fans have had a lot to say about 19-year old Nakamura in the past several years. One thing is certain, he is a much more balanced individual and whether he decides to push for the world title will be known in due time.

In the Gibraltar Masters, Nakamura showed that he has maintained his form despite spending last semester at Dickinson College. However, he stumbled in the first round to IM Ketevan Arakhamia of Georgia before reeling off four straight wins. Nakamura played the Alekhine twice and the Sicilian Dragon twice; he also played 1.e4 twice, 1.d4 twice, 1.c4 once. He continues to show the universality of his game.

Nakamura took chances in his games and as usual played exciting chess. He was on a "razor's edge" in his game with
IM Jovanka Houska of England when she erred with 43.Qxb7?? Perhaps one of the most impressive victories was his demolition of Russia's Vladimir Epishin. Typically very steady, Epishin experimented in the opening and his king ended falling under a blaze of fire from Nakamura's active pieces.

Epishin breaks a cardinal rule in the opening and is brutally punished. Final position.

Epishin breaks a cardinal rule in the opening and is brutally punished. The final position shows the demolition.

Vladimir Akopian also overcame a first round loss to IM Irina Krush to win the tournament with +6 on 7-. Alexander Areschenko of the Ukraine and Emil Sutovsky of Israel tied with Nakamura for joint second on 7-2.

Nakamura's games
Mon Roi (full results, photos, games)
ChessBase, "Akopian wins GibTel Masters in Gibraltar," 4 February 2007.

Posted by The Chess Drum:  9 February 2007