Nakamura H. (2580)
Stripunsky A. (2553)

102nd New York Masters (4)
New York, 2004

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 a6 6. Qc2 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Be2 dxc4 9. O-O Nbd7 10. a4 b6 11. Bxc4 Bb7 12. Qe2 Qc7 13. e4 Ng4 14. h3 A natural move. While watching the game, I was calmly anticipating 14...Nge5 when Stripunsky's next move gave me a mild jolt. 14... h5! 15. Ba2 Clearing his bishop out the way of any tricky tactics along the c-file. I started to wonder about 15...Nde5 when Strip dropped a bomb. 15... Qg3!!

Hello! Now 16...Nde5 will come with crushing effect. Suddenly White's position looks awful. I assumed it was time to bail out with 16.Be3 when Hikaru designs a mind-bender. 15... Nde5 16. Bf4 16. Nd1 Nde5 17. Kh1!! The Black queen is suddenly trapped! I felt like a fish watching real chess players come up with one stunning idea after the other. I glanced over at Stripunsky's face and I could tell that he hadn't suspected this move either. But, the fighter that he is, he quickly realized that not only wasn't he lost, but there was still fire in his attack. 17... Bxf2! 18. Rxf2 Forced. 18. Nxf2 Nxf3 19. Nxg4 (19. gxf3 Qh2#) 19... hxg4 20. Rxf3 gxf3 21. Qxf3 Rxh3+ 22. Kg1 Qe1+ 23. Qf1 Rh1+ is good night. 18... Rd8! At least I saw one move. The threat is to sacrifice on d1 followed by capturing the rook on f2. 19. Be3

After the game, a visibly upset Hikaru chided himself for this move, suggesting that the alternative 19.Bd2 would have given him great chances to save the game. 19. Bd2 and now I felt like I could play again when I spotted the main variation of the following line 19... Rd3! 20. Bb1 Rxf3! 21. gxf3 Nxf2+!! 22. Nxf2 (22. Qxf2 Qxh3+ 23. Qh2 (23. Kg1 Nxf3+) 23... Qxh2+ 24. Kxh2 Nxf3+ 25. Kh3 Nxd2) 22... Nxf3 when the twin mates on h2 and g1 cost White his queen. When I went home to check it with Fritz, some truly computeresque variations emerged from the deep recesses of silicon madness.

a) 20.Rf1 Nxf3 21.gxf3 Rxf3!! 22.Rxf3 Bxe4!! 23.Bd5 Bxd5 24.Raa3 Ne5 25.Qg2 Bxf3 26.Rxf3 Qxf3;

b) 20.Rc1 A slight improvement over 20.Bb1 20...Rxf3 [20... Nxf3 21.gxf3 Qxh3+ 22.Kg1 Nxf2 23.Kxf2 (23.Nxf2 Qg3+ 24.Kf1 Rxf3 25.Rc3 Bxe4 26.Bb1 Rxc3 27.Bxe4 Rb3) 23...Qh2+] 21.gxf3 Nxf2+ 22.Qxf2 Qxh3+ 23.Qh2 Qf1+ 24. Qg1 Qxg1+ 25.Kxg1 Nxf3+ 26.Kf2 Nxd2 27.Rc7 Nxe4+ 28.Ke3 Nd6

19... Bxe4 Now it's a full-scale swarm as all six Black pieces, including the rook on h8, are pressing the attack home. Looking at the board, it's takes a moment to realize that White is up a piece. 20. Kg1 Nxf3+ 21. Rxf3 Bxf3

Simple chess. If 21... Bxf3 22. Qxf3 Qe1+ 23. Qf1 Qxf1+ 24. Kxf1 Rxd1+! 25. Rxd1 Nxe3+ is all she wrote. White resigns. 0-1 [Maurice Ashley]

Game(s) in PGN