Kasparov-Nakamura establish alliance

There had been some whispering about an alliance between Hikaru Nakamura and Garry Kasparov for some time now. When Magnus Carlsen began working with Kasparov, Nakamura expressed to me disappointment that chess journalist and Kasparov assistant Mig Greengard did not suggest him as a subject.

A Kasparov-Nakamura team seemed to make sense due to Kasparov connections to New York, his desire to stay relevant in the chess world and his not less than glowing words about Nakamura’s fighting spirit and potential. The Carlsen project ended unceremoniously with many rumors of a clash of philosophies and personalities.

Rex Sinquefield of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, Garry Kasparov and Hikaru Nakamura. Photo by CCSCSL.

Nakamura had discussed the rumor with me months ago on Facebook and did not completely deny it, but had mentioned that Dennis Monokroussos had a role in starting it. Below is the statement that started the public buzz,

And now, rumor time. Emphasis on rumor: the information is at least three people away from an original source, so cum grano salis and caveat lector. It is…that Nakamura is working with Garry Kasparov. If true, I’ll repeat what I said when it came out a few years ago that Carlsen was working with Kasparov: it’s good news for Nakamura and his fans, and very bad news for his competitors. Will they manage to make it work? (Assuming they are working together!) Time will tell – it’s not hard to imagine some massive ego clashes – but if they can I think it will be great for Nakamura. Kasparov’s discipline and deep researches nicely complement Nakamura’s talent and fighting spirit. My prediction is that if the story proves true and they make it work, the American will reach 2800 within a year. (see post)

New In Chess (2011-6)

The latest New in Chess issue (2011/7), the alliance was made official and included an interview with Macauley Peterson on the subject. The article also details the timeline in which the rumour-turned-fact evolved. This discussion now is whether this alliance can push Nakamura firmly into the top echelon of chess.

Despite the resiliency of Viswanathan Anand, Vassily Ivanchuk and Boris Gelfand (who are all just over 40), the aging of the top ten of chess is upon us. It appears that Magnus Carlsen (20), Teimour Radjabov (24), Sergey Karjakin (21) and Nakamura (23) are the future contenders while Levon Aronian (29) will most certainly get his chance.

In my view, this alliance is huge for Nakamura who could use a bit of calibration of his opening preparation and a more indepth approach to chess psychology. The latter could prove to be the factor that may vault the American star to the top five and over 2800. He is famed for his killer instinct and insatiable will to win. This you cannot teach. The amazing fact is that Nakamura has gotten this far primarily by working alone.

The Tal Memorial will be Nakamura’s next test.


  1. Good article , Daaim. I agree it’s just a matter of time before the younger group takes over. I, being in my 40’s , find it a lot difficult these days battling some of these younger teens and early 20’s players. Funny thing is when I was in my teens and 20’s , I was giving the older players a hard time. I guess what comes around goes around. LOL. Maybe I’ll give Korchnoi a call and ask him how he does it . And yes, Nakamura is going to benefit a lot from this chess union.

  2. Chess psychology is so hard to adjust because it’s not a static sentiment; it’s a dynamic process that continues to re-emerge in our thoughts process throughout the various stages of the game. Without a doubt, Naka will garner plenty from working the great Kaspa, and it won’t surprise me to see him as number one in two or three years from now. However, I think what’s the best way to handle chess psychology is extremely difficult to teach. I think how we process it is unique to each individual. Perhaps that’s why players struggle with chess psychology at the master’s level and despite having top training throughout their chess careers, they continue to struggle with the psychological aspect of the mental confrontation even when they reach the grandmaster level. It may be the hardest part of chess but it’s also what makes chess fun.

  3. Carlsen speaks on Nakamura-Kasparov alliance. His comments are candid, but may be a motivating factor for Hikaru. I don’t have the full interview, but following are some quotes.

    “I am surprised, especially since I never got the impression that Kasparov had a great deal of respect for Nakamura’s chess talent. This is why I have been reluctant to believe the rumors of the two working together.”

    Carlsen mentions the increased pressure on Nakamura.

    “I noticed that Kasparov has spoken in a neutral fashion and has tried to play down the collaboration. He probably hoped that Nakamura would produce better performances before the collaboration was made public. After all, since the nice win at Tata, Nakamura has not achieved very much.”

    Also… Carlsen does not believe that the alliance will close the gap, but it may serve as a source of motivation for Nakamura.

    “I, too, know Kasparov well, and the way he thinks. Besides, I have a pretty good idea of what he thinks are my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve had very good results against Nakamura in the period since Kasparov has been his trainer. I think Nakamura has made and will make more progress as a result, but right now there are four to five players in the world, including me, who have significantly better understanding of chess than Nakamura. And I don’t know if even a man like Kasparov can change that in the short term.”

    Link: https://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=7666

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