Nakamura in South Africa

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  • Nakamura in South Africa

    Nakamura in South Africa

    January 9, 2018

    Evidently Hikaru Nakamura has been in South Africa for a week or so.

    On January 3, he played his speedchess final with Magnus Carlsen from an auditorium, with spectators. There is a photo at showing him during the match.

    What interests me is what is on the table to snack while the games are going on. I see three cans of Red Bull, a bottle of orange juice and another juice, bottled water, meat, watermelon and pineapple chunks. Really chesstalkers, I need some help here!

    Mike Klein captions the photo “Playing from South Africa Hikaru has his biltong ready against Magnus”. Wikipedia defines biltong as a form of dried, cured meat that originated in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

    Lennart Ootes writes on the same page: I’m in Johannesburg for the South African Junior Team Championships and its special guest GMHikaru will play the speedchess final vs Magnus live from S. Africa.

    Hikaru also played blitz against some of the regulars in a chess park.

    And, a 100-board simul, photos of which can be seen at:

    I assume that Hikaru, Mike Klein and Lennart Ootes are all guests of the organizers of the SAJCC2018. What a wonderful promotion! I expect Mike will write this up at shortly.

    And the results of the big simul? This story from IOL, Zambia:

    Boys beat chess grandmaster

    NEWS / 9 JANUARY 2018

    Twelve-year-old Alexander van der Merwe from Stellenbosch has made his mark against a chess grandmaster. He claimed one of only two wins against American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura at the SA National Junior Chess Championships in Boksburg.

    The competition, which lasted more than five hours, was the biggest simultaneous chess exhibition to take place in South Africa.

    It saw Nakamura, eighth in the world, take on 101 games at the same time, moving from board to board from 5.50pm until 11.35pm.

    Alexander said: “It feels amazing, I have never played someone so highly rated.

    “I went wild in the end and played very aggressive(ly) because I was determined to win and he didn’t see what I was planning.”

    The Grade 6 pupil said the qualities that made a good chess player were “patience, hard work and passion for the sport”.

    Out of the 101 games played, Nakamura won 92 and conceded seven draws and two losses.

    He made an average of 24 moves per game and made about 3 000 moves during the course of the simultaneous exhibition.

    Khanya Mazibuko, 16, from Soweto was the only other participant to defeat Nakamura.

    “I am excited, overwhelmed and very proud of myself.

    “I was the second last person to finish; the game was long, but it was fun,” Khanya said.
    Last edited by Wayne Komer; Tuesday, 9th January, 2018, 04:46 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Nakamura in South Africa

    Nakamura in South Africa

    January 20, 2018

    The expected article by Mike Klein on this chess promotion has appeared in

    There is an enjoyable account of Hikaru playing the hustlers in Johannesburg's Joubert Park.

    An excerpt:

    The crowd initially regaled the grandmaster, then set about the task of trying to beat him. They parted way for him to enter the cave against the city's best blitz players.

    Nakamura offered 10-1 money odds (10 Rand to 100 Rand, or about $0.80 USD to $8.00 USD) and also 3-1 time odds. It wasn't his intention to win money, but as was explained to him by hosts, none of these games take place without some sort of wager. As he began to dispatch one opponent after the other, the crowd elbowed its way in for a clearer view. Standing atop trash cans and bracing themselves with overhanging tree branches, the onlookers weren't interested in the traditional protocols of tournaments. Phones were on while heckling became a competition: "Are you on Facebook? I do not 'like' that move." One commenter to a video posted remarked: "The crowd is like a real-life Youtube comments section."

    Nakamura also found himself in a tricky rules controversy that will not be new to frequent news readers. Remember last year's controversial ending to the Canadian Championship? Nearly the exact same situation recurred in the park. Nakamura, low on time, promoted a pawn but didn't replace it with a queen. After a few plies, his opponent asked what the rules stipulate. (Note: on the way to the park, this reporter asked our hosts if the local players would try to claim wins based on pedantic rules, and we were told they would not!) Nakamura kept calm, waiting for the crowd to hush, then pointed out that he can leave the pawn on the board if his opponent is holding the intended promoted piece (the queen).

    Essentially, Nakamura was going for the "Nikolay Noritsyn Rule"-the Canadian IM tried the same justification for an upside-down rook in his rapid-game playoff. The problem is, that's not the actual FIDE rule. Instead, a player is required to stop the clock to find the piece he wishes to promote to (in fact an upside-down rook is at least still a rook, while a promoted pawn that is not replaced with a new piece is an illegal move and a loss!). Now, have you ever seen a player stop the clock in the park for such a reason? Likely not. The park is about confidence and holding your ground. Nakamura did just that, explaining the wayward rule calmly and clearly. The crowd believed him, and he got his win. One can argue that is part of being a park veteran!

    See the coverage of the park event on

    Lots of fun. I admire Hikaru for putting it all out there!