|Full name||Hikaru Nakamura|
December 9, 1987 |
Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
|FIDE rating||2775 (May 2013)
(No. 9 in the January 2013 FIDE World Rankings)
|Peak rating||2786 (October 2012)|
Hikaru Nakamura (中村光 Nakamura Hikaru ) (born December 9, 1987) is a Japanese-born American chess grandmaster. He is ranked seventh in the world by FIDE as of the May 2013 rankings, and is the current United States Chess Champion.
Nakamura's first supertournament victory came at Wijk aan Zee 2011, finishing clear first ahead of the four top-rated players in the world in a performance described by former World Champion Garry Kasparov as better than any tournament result of Bobby Fischer's, and the best by an American in more than 100 years.
Nakamura is the highest United States Chess Federation (USCF) rated player at 2855, as published in the February, 2013 rating supplement. In October 2012, he reached a FIDE rating of 2786; 5th in the world at the time and the highest of his career.
Early life 
Nakamura was born in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, to a Japanese father and an American mother. When he was two years of age his family moved to the United States. He began playing chess prior to the age of five and was coached by his Sri Lankan stepfather, FIDE Master and chess author Sunil Weeramantry.
Chess prodigy 
At age 10 years and 79 days, Nakamura achieved the title of chess master from the USCF, becoming the youngest American ever to earn the title and breaking the record previously set by Vinay Bhat. (Nakamura's record stood until 2008 when Nicholas Nip achieved master at the age of 9 years and 11 months.) In 1999 Nakamura won the Laura Aspis Prize, given annually to the top USCF-rated player under age 13. In 2003, at age 15 years and 79 days, Nakamura solidified his reputation as a chess prodigy, becoming the youngest American to earn the grandmaster title, breaking the record of Bobby Fischer by three months. (This record has since been broken by Ray Robson.)
Chess career 
Nakamura is generally regarded as an aggressive player who is reluctant to draw games early, having once said in an interview that "there is no point of taking draws". He prefers instead to exploit all prospective winning chances, giving him a style of play described by the U.S. Chess Federation as marked by "astonishing creativity...relentless determination...[the making] of unexpected moves and a will to win".
Formerly a resident of White Plains, New York, Nakamura often played in the weekly New York Masters chess tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, which he won several times. He currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Nakamura qualified for the 2004 world chess championship, contested in Tripoli, Libya, and reached the fourth round, defeating grandmasters Sergey Volkov, Aleksej Aleksandrov, and Alexander Lastin before falling to England's Michael Adams, the tournament's third-seeded participant and eventual runner-up.
On June 20, 2005, Nakamura was selected as the 19th Frank Samford Chess Fellow, receiving a grant of $32,000 to further his chess education and competition.
Nakamura won the 2005 U.S. Chess Championship (held in November and December 2004), scoring seven points over nine rounds to tie grandmaster Alex Stripunsky for first place. Nakamura defeated Stripunsky in two straight rapid chess playoff games to claim the title and become the youngest national champion since Fischer. Nakamura finished the tournament without a loss and, in the seventh round, defeated grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov, then the nation's top-ranked player.
In November and December 2005 Nakamura entered the FIDE World Chess Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, seeded 28th (of 128 players) but failed to advance beyond the first round. He lost each of his two games to Indian grandmaster Surya Ganguly.
In 2006, Nakamura helped the U.S. team win the bronze medal in the International Chess Olympiad at Turin, playing third board behind Gata Kamsky and 2006 U.S. Champion Alexander Onischuk. In the same year he won the 16th North American Open in Las Vegas.
In January 2007 Nakamura shared second place at the GibTelecom Masters in Gibraltar. He placed joint first in the tournament the following year, finishing with five straight wins to tie with Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi, whom he then proceeded to beat in the rapidplay play off.
Nakamura won the 2008 Finet Chess960 Open (Mainz). In November 2008, he won the Cap d'Agde Rapid Tournament in Cap d'Agde, defeating Anatoly Karpov in the semifinals and Vassily Ivanchuk in the finals. In February 2009 he came joint third at the 7th Gibtelecom Masters in Gibraltar, again finishing strongly with 4½/5 to end the event on 7½/10.
2009: Second U.S. Championship and other tournament successes 
In July 2009, Nakamura won the Donostia-San Sebastian Chess Festival, tying with former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov with 6½/9 before defeating Ponomariov in a blitz playoff to win the title over a field including former undisputed world champion Anatoly Karpov, former FIDE world champions Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Ponomariov, 2009 World Junior champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Peter Svidler among others. In August 2009, Nakamura became the 960 World Chess Champion, beating GM Levon Aronian 3½–½ in Mainz, Germany.
In November 2009, Nakamura participated in the BNbank blitz tournament in Oslo, Norway. He reached the final by winning all 12 of his games. In the championship, he faced the world No. 2 and reigning World Blitz Champion Magnus Carlsen. Nakamura won the match 3–1, further cementing his reputation as one of the best blitz players in the world, despite having not been invited to the 2009 World Blitz championship.
Nakamura skipped the Chess World Cup 2009 in favor of the London Chess Classic in December 2009. Although he drew with the black pieces against eventual winner Magnus Carlsen and with white against former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, Nakamura failed to win a game during the tournament and ended in seventh place out of eight.
2010: Gold medalist and top-ten player 
Nakamura began 2010 playing first board for the United States at the World Team Chess Championship held in Bursa, Turkey. Nakamura's impressive performance, including a convincing win over world No. 6 and recent Chess World Cup winner Boris Gelfand on the black side of a King's Indian Defense won him the individual gold medal for board one, and led the U.S. to a second place finish behind Russia.
Nakamura participated in the 2010 Corus chess tournament in Wijk ann Zee. Winning over Loek van Wely, Nigel Short, early leader Alexei Shirov, and drawing against world champion Viswanathan Anand and world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, Nakamura was in second place after seven rounds. In the eighth round Nakamura faced former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, to whom he lost playing with the black pieces in a Dutch Defense. Nakamura had an up-and-down tournament the rest of the way, but finished with a long endgame victory over Sergei Tiviakov. Finishing with an overall +2 record, Nakamura tied for fourth with Viswanathan Anand, behind Carlsen, Shirov, and Kramnik.
In May, Nakamura participated in the 2010 United States Chess Championship in Saint Louis, Missouri attempting to defend his 2009 title. Seeded first, he scored 5/7 points to qualify for the round-robin stage against 1991 champion and current Candidates Player Gata Kamsky, 2006 champion Alexander Onischuk, and 2008 champion Yuri Shulman. In the round-robin stage, he drew Kamsky before losing to Shulman, with the white pieces in both games. The loss to Shulman eliminated him from defending his 2009 title.
Nakamura competed in the 39th Chess Olympiad, playing board one on the United States team featuring Gata Kamsky, Alexander Onischuk, Yuri Shulman, and Robert Hess. Although he defeated Le Quang Liem and drew Kramnik with the black pieces during the tournament, the U.S. team failed to medal.
From November 5 through 14th, Nakamura competed in the 2010 Mikhail Tal Memorial in Moscow; the field consisted of world No. 3 Levon Aronian, world No. 4 Vladimir Kramnik, world No. 6 Alexander Grischuk, world No. 8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, world No. 9 Sergey Karjakin, Pavel Eljanov, Boris Gelfand, Alexei Shirov, and Wang Hao. The average Elo of the field was 2757, making it the third strongest tournament in chess history at the time. Nakamura finished at +1, defeating Eljanov and drawing every other player to finish in a tie for fourth place and missing out on a tie for first place by blundering into a draw in a winning position in the final round against Grischuk. Nakamura's round two win over Eljanov placed him in the world top-ten in the live ratings for the first time in his career. Nakamura's performance at this tournament, his first involving an entirely super-elite field allowed him to "force (the chess elite) to respect him", according to noted Russian commentator grandmaster Sergey Shipov.
From November 16 through 18th, Nakamura made his debut at the 2010 World Blitz Championship in Moscow. Despite a disastrous start and losing four of his first five games to Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Sergey Karjakin, he recovered to score 5/7 in the second half of the day and finished with a score of 7½/14, 2½ points behind coleaders Carlsen and Levon Aronian, whom he defeated in their individual games. On the second day, Nakamura avenged his earlier losses against both Carlsen and Kramnik and scored 8/14, for a total of 15½/28, three points behind Aronian and a point and a half behind Carlsen. Nakamura finished with 21½/38 for fifth place behind Gelfand, Carlsen, Teimour Radjabov and champion Aronian.
In December 2010 Nakamura finished fourth in the London Chess Classic, among a field including Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik, Michael Adams, Nigel Short, David Howell, and Luke McShane. This included a win with Black against Kramnik, evening their career head-to-head record at 2½/2½. The tournament was won by Magnus Carlsen. Nakamura's performance ensured that he would officially join the world top ten as of January 1, 2011.
2011: First superGM tournament championship and continued rise 
In the January 2011 FIDE rating list, Nakamura was ranked number 10 in the world with a rating of 2751, his highest ranking to date.
Nakamura began training with former world champion Garry Kasparov. The first of several training sessions was held in New York at the beginning of January, but the training ended in December 2011.
From January 14 through January 30, Nakamura competed in the Tata Steel Grandmaster A tournament in Wijk aan Zee among a field of world No. 1 and defending champion Magnus Carlsen, world champion and world No. 2 Viswanathan Anand, world No. 3 and reigning World Blitz champion Levon Aronian, world No. 4 and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, world No. 7 Alexander Grischuk, former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, reigning Russian champion Ian Nepomniachtchi, reigning Chinese champion Wang Hao, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexei Shirov, Anish Giri, Jan Smeets, and Erwin L'Ami. The average rating of the field was 2740, making this thirteen-round event a category 20 tournament. After twelve rounds, Nakamura was in clear first place with 8½ points going into the final round, half a point ahead of Anand and a full point ahead of Carlsen and Aronian. In the final round, Nakamura drew against Hao with the black pieces in a King's Indian Defense. With the draw, Nakamura finished with 9/13 (+5), a tournament performance rating of 2879, and guaranteed at least a share of first place. With Anand's final round draw against Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura clinched sole possession of first place, making him the first American to win the Wijk aan Zee tournament since 1980. The win also guaranteed that Nakamura will join Carlsen (winner of the 2010 Pearl Spring chess tournament) as qualifiers for Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 in September 2011. Nakamura after the tournament stated that his goal was to reach a 2800 rating by the end of the year; the win raised his rating from 2751 to 2774 and from world No. 10 to world No. 7 on the unofficial live rating list. The rating of 2774 is within 11 points of Bobby Fischer's peak rating of 2785.
Former world champion Garry Kasparov, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, called Nakamura's victory the best by an American in more than 100 years:
In an e-mail, Kasparov said, "Fischer never won a tournament ahead of the world champion. He was second in Santa Monica", referring to the Second Piatigorsky Cup. "Of course, there were far fewer such events back then, and Fischer had several great tournament results like Stockholm 62", the interzonal qualifier for the world championship. "Reuben Fine only equaled Keres on points at AVRO in 38." Referring to the breakout performance of Frank J. Marshall, the United States Champion from 1909 to 1936, Mr. Kasparov continued, "Then you have Marshall at Cambridge Springs in 1904 ahead of Lasker, though Tarrasch wasn’t there. So unless you include Capablanca as an American player, I think you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura’s."
Following his supertournament triumph, Nakamura was given the key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee on February 15, 2011. The victory also opened the door for Nakamura to receive invitations from other supergrandmaster tournaments for the first time, and increased his world ranking to a career-high number eight. In May he contested a six-game match in the United States against world No. 11 Ponomariov where he lost the first game but rallied to win the match 3½–2½, raising his rating to 2777 and ranking to world No. 6 on the unofficial live rating list, both career-highs to date. From June 11–21, he made his debut at the Bazna Kings Tournament in Romania in a field including Carlsen, world No. 5 Vassily Ivanchuk, world No. 6 Sergey Karjakin, world No. 13 Teimour Radjabov and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu; the tournament was a Category XXI event with an average ELO of 2760, making it the third strongest tournament in history; Nakamura finished 4½/10; the tournament was won by Carlsen on tiebreak over Karjakin. Despite the disappointing performance at Bazna, he reached a new career-high world ranking of No. 6 in the July 2011 FIDE list with a 2770 rating.
From July 21–31, Nakamura made his debut at the Dortmund Invitational in Germany; the field comprised world No. 5 Kramnik, world No. 10 Ponomariov, world No. 27 Le Quang Liem, world No. 40 Giri, and Georg Meier. Nakamura had a second consecutive disappointing performance, beginning at −3 before winning his last two games, including a last-round win over tournament winner Kramnik on the black side of the King's Indian Defense, to finish at 4½/10.
Nakamura competed in the Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 in September, after which he played in the Tal Memorial for the second consecutive year in a field comprising Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Karjakin, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Hao, and Nepomniachtchi. He finished the year by participating in the London Chess Classic for the third consecutive time.
Starting in 2012, he participated in the Reggio Emilia Tournament, tying for second with Alexander Morezvich of Russia, and Fabiano Caruana of Italy. Anish Giri got first place in the tournament, a half-point ahead of the field. Nakamura then played in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, finishing 5th. He won the US Championship in May with a score of 8½, one point ahead of Gata Kamsky.
In June 2012, Nakamura played in the Tal Memorial in Moscow. In a tightly bunched field he finished tied for eighth with Luke McShane, 1 1/2 points behind winner Magnus Carlsen. He participated in the Biel Chess Festival, finishing third with Anish Giri, behind Carlsen and Wang Hao. At the 2012 Chess Olympiad in August and September, he led the U.S. team to a fifth-place finish with a +4=4-1 record on first board. Nakamura then suffered through the FIDE London Grand Prix tournament, at one point losing four games in a row. He finished tied for last with Giri. After another lackluster performance in the European Club Championship in Eilat, Israel, Nakamura finished first in the "crown group" at the Univé tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands. In December he tied for third with Mickey Adams in the London Chess Classic with a +3=4-1 score. Nakamura finished the year by winning three silver medals in the three chess events (rapid, blitz and blindfold) at the World Mind Games in Beijing. After this tournament, Nakamura achieved a 2844 FIDE blitz rating and a 2795 FIDE rapid rating.
Nakamura is well known in the chess community for playing on the Internet regularly. He plays primarily on two chess sites: Internet Chess Club ('Smallville'(Which he does not use)) ('Capilanobridge'(His current account)) and Playchess ('Star Wars'). He is the strongest bullet, blitz and standard player on the server and he has set many rating records under different categories.
Nakamura has served as a commentator and game annotator, most prominently on the ChessNinja website, operated by chess author Mig Greengard.
Nakamura has been described as having an uncommon enthusiasm for chess and as being much more approachable than other players of his ability. For instance, just after winning his first U.S. Championship in 2005, he played numerous 1-minute games with all comers in the lobby of the hotel where the competition had taken place.
Nakamura attended Dickinson College for a short while in Pennsylvania as a member of the class of 2010. He is also an avid hockey fan, and frequently attends games of the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks.
Nakamura maintains a Twitter account under the username "GMHikaru". After what was to him a disappointing tournament at the 5th Edition of the Kings Tournament in Medias (although Nakamura placed third of sixth among a cadre of top Grandmasters), Nakamura tweeted that he was focusing on the 2011 World Series of Poker, in which he played, although busted out on the second day. Kasparov, who had been training Nakamura at the time, publicly grumbled about his interest in poker.
Hikaru has set several "youngest-ever" records in U.S. chess history, including:
- Youngest to defeat an International Master in a USCF-rated game (10 years, 0 months); later surpassed by Praveen Balakrishnan at 9 years 29 days; Recently surpassed by Awonder Liang at 8 years 118 days;
- Youngest to defeat a Grandmaster in a USCF-rated game (10 years, 117 days; later surpassed by Fabiano Caruana at 10 years, 61 days); Recently surpassed by Awonder Liang at 9 years 112 days;
- Youngest International Master (13 years, 2 months; later surpassed by Ray Robson at 13 years, 1 month).
Sample game 
|This section uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The following game is Nakamura–Novikov, played in the 29th New York Masters 2002. Nakamura's annotations are given along with the text.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2 Nbd7 9. g4 Nb6 10. 0-0-0 Bb7 11. Nb3 Rc8 12. Na5 Ba8 13. a4!?
- This rare line has only been played two times, both games were draws. (13.g5 Nfd7 14.a4 b4 15.Na2 Nxa4 16.Bxa6 Qxa5 17.Bxc8 Ndb6=/+ Perez–Novikov, Aosta Open Italy 2002.)
- 13...d5 14.g5 Nfd7 15.exd5 Bxd5 16.axb5 Bb4 17.Nc6 Bxc6 18.bxc6 Rxc6 19.Bxb6 Rxb6 20.Qd4 0-0 21.Na4! Rb8 22.Qxd7 Qxg5+ 23.f4 Qxf4+ 24.Kb1+/− Andreev–Voitsekhovsky, 2000.
14. Nxc4 bxc4 15. Qd4 Qc7 16. g5 Nd7 17. f4
17... h6 18. g6!?
- The idea behind sacrificing the pawn is to weaken the e6 and g6 pawns, and force Black to move his king to f7. (18.gxh6 Rxh6 19.f5 Rh7 [19...Rh4 20.fxe6 fxe6 21.Bf2 Rh7 22.Bg3!+/=] 20.fxe6.)
- Novikov accepts the challenge. Perhaps f5 was better because once he takes on g6 his pieces get tied down, and Black ends up with a very passive position. (18...f5!? 19.Bg2 Nf6~~.)
19. Rg1 Kf7
- 19...e5?! 20.Qd2 g5 (20...exf4 21.Bxf4 Qb6 22.Rxg6 Rb8 23.b3 cxb3 24.Re6+ Kf7 25.Bc4+/−; 20...Qb7 21.Qd5! Qxd5 22.Nxd5+/=) 21.fxg5 hxg5 22.Nd5+/=.
20. f5 gxf5
- 20...exf5 21.exf5 gxf5 22.Bh3→.
21. exf5 e5 22.Qh4?!
- Missing a chance to get a winning position. (22.Qg4! Nf6 23.Qg6+ Ke7 24.Bg2+/−.)
22... Nf6 23. Be2 Ke8 24. Rg6 Qf7 25. Qg3 Rb8 26. a5! Bc6 27. Bb6 h5
- This is the only move which makes any sense here, but it allows White to win the exchange. Maybe Novikov felt like giving up the exchange to get some counterplay because if he does not play h5 White has all the play.
28. Qh4 d5 29. Qg3 Qe7 30. Bd4! Rxb2 31. Kxb2 exd4 32. Rxd4 Qa3+ 33. Kb1 Bd6?
- 33...Qb4+ 34.Kc1 Bd6~~ After the game, when I analysed with Novikov, he suggested this line. I did not find anything which was winning for White, and I think that Black is at least even in this position if not better.
34. Qe3+ Kd8 (see diagram) 35. Nxd5!!
- Clearly Novikov did not see this brilliant tactical shot as he used up most of his time trying to come up with a good move. In the end he had to settle for a losing endgame down an exchange.
- 35...Bxd5 36.Qxa3 Bxa3 37.Bxc4 Bc5 38.Rd3+ −; 35...Qxa5 36.Nxf6 Qe1+ 37.Qc1+ −; 35...Nxd5 36.Qxa3 Bxa3 37.Rxc6+ −.
36. Nxe3 Kc7 37. Rxg7+ Nd7 38. Nxc4 Rb8+ 39. Nb6 Re8 40. Bf3 Re1+ 41. Ka2 Ra1+!
42. Kxa1 Be5 43. c3 Bxg7 44. Bxc6 Bxd4 45. cxd4 1–0
- 45.cxd4 Kxc6 46.d5+ Kd6 47.Nxd7 Kxd7 48.f6+ −.
Head-to-head record versus top players 
(Rapid, blitz and blindfold games not included; listed as +wins −losses =draws as of January 9, 2012.)
Players who have been World Champion in boldface
- Michael Adams +1−1=3
- Viswanathan Anand +1−0=6
- Levon Aronian +3−3=5
- Magnus Carlsen +0−5=6
- Boris Gelfand +1−3=5
- Alexander Grischuk +2−1=3
- Wang Hao +0−4=3
- Vassily Ivanchuk +1−4=4
- Gata Kamsky +1−0=4
- Sergei Karjakin +5−2=7
- Anatoly Karpov +1−0=0
- Rustam Kasimdzhanov +1−0=2
- Vladimir Kramnik +3−2=5
- Shakhriyar Mamedyarov +2−3=2
- Ruslan Ponomariov +2−3=6
- Alexei Shirov +2−0=1
- Nigel Short +2−0=2
- Peter Svidler +0−6=2
- Veselin Topalov +0−0=1
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Hikaru Nakamura|
- Hikaru Nakamura's Official Website
- Hikaru Nakamura's Live Chess Rating Statistics
- United States Chess Federation Player Profile
- Hikaru Nakamura player profile and games at Chessgames.com
- Hikaru Nakamura player profile at the Internet Chess Club
- Play through Nakamura's 2005 U.S. Championship Games
|United States Chess Champion
|United States Chess Champion
|United States Chess Champion
|Youngest ever United States chessmaster
|Youngest ever United States international master
|Youngest ever United States grandmaster
|Tata Steel Chess Tournament Group A Champion