Nakamura Dominates Early, Disintegrates LateAfter round 7 of the 54th Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament, Nakamura had built a nearly overwhelming 1.5 point lead over his nearest rival Alexander Morozevich. With 3 rounds to go, Nakamura began to fall apart. In round 8 of the 2011 Reggio Emilia “Torneo di Capodanno” Nakamura played an aggressive line in the Steinitz Variation against Morozevich’s French Defense, with white sacrificing a poisoned pawn early on b2. Morozevich snatched the pawn and Nakamura immediately blundered with 10. f5? – surrendering a critical tempo and drastically weakening his own pawn chain in the center. Down 2 pawns out of the opening, Nakamura was unable to generate counterplay and resigned after 32 moves. In round 9, Nakamura had the white pieces and chose the Nimzovich Attack against Anish Giri’s Petroff Defense. Nakamura played indecisively and allowed Giri to weaken the white kingside pawns and develop fantastic pressure on the e-file, resulting in a blunder by Nakamura with 34. b3? – allowing a winning combination by Giri with 34. dxe3! Giri finished the game accurately and Nakamura was forced to resign after 41. …Bxc5.
In the last round of the 54th Reggio Emilia Super-Tournament, Nakamura employed the Berlin Defense against an out-of-sorts Vassily Ivanchuk. Nakamura played a very strange plan that resulted in a definite pull in the endgame for white, although white did not have a concrete win until black blundered with 44. …b3? – leading to an accurate conversion of the full point by Ivanchuk and Nakamura finishing in 3rd place on tiebreaks.
Vitiugov’s Amazing Resourcefulness Stomped Morozevich’s 1st Place Hopes
Morozevich went all-out for the win in round 10, starting with the black pieces and the Grunfeld Defense. Vitiugov aimed for positional pressure on the queenside, while Morozevich angled for a decisive kingside attack. After 32. …Rfh7 it seemed that black’s attack had broken through and white would resign soon enough, however Vitiugov played the sensational 33. Rh4! and 34. Bd3+ – sacrificing a piece to neutralize black’s attack and open up the queenside for white’s pieces. In severe time pressure, Morozevich made a few imprecise moves and after 44. b8=Q white had reached a technically won position. Vitiugov converted the win nicely, leaving Morozevich to finish in 2nd place.