Nakamura on the Ropes

Only eight players remain at the World Cup. The first match games were played yesterday and the rating (and not only) favorite of the event Hikaru Nakamura suffered painful defeat with the black pieces against Pavel Eljanov. The Ukrainian GM has the tournament of his life so far:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.09.23"]
[Round "37.2"]
[White "Eljanov, Pavel"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2723"]
[BlackElo "2814"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:07:59"]
[BlackClock "0:05:58"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
Bd7 9. Qxc4 Bc6 10. Bg5 Bd5 11. Qc2 Be4 12. Qc1 {Diagram [#] "A rare, sideline
of the Catalan" Eljanov.} (12. Qd1 {is much more popular. Giri-Leko was played
in this theme in Baku a couple of rounds earlier.}) 12... h6 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14.
Rd1 a5 15. Nbd2 Bh7 $146 {[%csl Gf6,Gh7] Diagram [#]} ({In the recent
predecessor Black chose} 15... Bxf3 {and Eljanov considered this move the
critical line.} 16. Bxf3 c6 {but after} 17. Nc4 Nd7 18. Qd2 Be7 19. h4 $1 {
Diagram [#] White had slight but long lasting advantage without any
counterplay for his opponent, Sasikiran,K (2682)-Svetushkin,D (2592) Moscow
2015}) 16. Nb3 c6 17. Qc3 {White puts pressure on the a5 pawn thus obstructing
Black's development.} Be7 ({White wins a pawn in case of} 17... Nd7 $6 18. Ne5
$1 {Diagram [#]} Qc7 ({Or alternatively will have large positional advantage
after} 18... Bxe5 19. dxe5 Qc7 20. Rd6 $16) 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Nxa5) ({Or} 17...
Na6 $6 18. Nxa5) 18. Nc5 Qc7 19. Ne5 {Now the d7 square is locked for the
black knight, but a6 is still available. This is where Nakamura goes.} Na6 {
[%cal Ga6b4] Diagram [#] Black wants to put the knight on b4 after which he
will be completely fine. Obviously Nakamura was not afraid of what came next.}
({If Black was afraid of the move in the game he might have chosen the
preperatory} 19... Ra7 {To which White has two interesting plans to pressurize}
20. Bf3 $5 ({Or he may simply push the pawns forward} 20. f4 Na6 21. e4) 20...
Na6 21. Bh5 {In both cases White is somewhat better.}) ({The computer
suggestion} 19... Rd8 {leads to stable advantage for White after} 20. Rac1 Bxc5
21. dxc5 $14 ({Or} 21. Qxc5 $14)) 20. Nxb7 $5 {The only way to create troubles
for Black.} Qxb7 21. Bxc6 Qc7 $6 {Diagram [#] But this is a mistake. The
general rule says that a rook and two pawns are usually better in the endgame
when facing the two light pieces. It is so as the rook becomes significantly
more active as the game opens and has more room to maneuver.} ({I believe
Nakamura should have opted for} 21... Qa7 $1 22. Bxa8 Qxa8 {and after} 23. Qxa5
Rb8 {True, White has three pawns and a rook now (practically an extra exchange)
but the black pieces control the board after say} 24. Qd2 Be4 {Diagram [#] and
the white queenside passers do not go anywhere.}) ({Or} 21... Qc8 $1 {which
would lead to the same.}) 22. Bxa8 Qxc3 ({Or else White will take control of
the open file} 22... Rxa8 23. Rac1 $16) 23. bxc3 Rxa8 24. Nc6 $1 {[%csl Ye7]
Diagram [#] A good practical decision. Eljanov deprives his opponent of the
bishop pair. The les pieces there are on the board, the more dangerous the
passers become.} Bd8 25. Nxd8 Rxd8 26. f3 {"Now I have a clear plan to put my
king on f2 and then slowly push the pawns. It is very unpleasant position for
Black" Eljanov.} Rc8 27. Ra3 $1 {[%cal Ga3a2,Gd1d2,Ga2b2,Rb1b8,Rb8b1] Diagram
[#] At a glance this move seems illogical, but its idea is not only to defend
the c3 pawn. White also wants to occupy the b file and for this reason both
white rooks stand better on the second rank, away from the black bishop. This
is better than} (27. Rac1 Bg6 28. e4 Kf8 {when the white pawns cannot go fast
forward-} (28... Rb8 29. Rb1) 29. c4 Ke7 30. c5 f5 $1) 27... Bg6 {Please, note
that the black rook cannot occupy easily the b file} (27... Rb8 28. e4 Rb2 29.
Raa1 $1 Rb3 30. Rdb1 Rxc3 31. Rb6 Nc7 $4 32. Rb8+ Ne8 33. Rxe8# {Diagram [#]})
28. Kf2 Rb8 29. Rd2 f6 {"After this move, strangely enough he offered a draw"
Eljanov, "I am technically winning."} 30. Raa2 $1 {Now we can clearly see the
idea behind Ra1-a3. White wins the only open file.} Rb3 (30... Rc8 31. Rab2)
31. Rab2 Rxc3 32. Rb5 {[%csl Ra5][%cal Gb5a5] Diagram [#] "I thought it is
already over for Black, but he put some pressure on me" Eljanov.} Bc2 33. Rxa5
Nc7 34. Ra7 f5 35. a5 Kh7 36. Rb7 Rc4 37. Rb6 Ba4 38. a6 Bc6 39. a7 Bd5 40. Ra2
{"I am forced to sacrifice the pawn on d4 as the one on a7 is the most
important." Eljanov} Rxd4 41. Rc2 Na8 42. Ra6 Rd1 43. h4 $1 {[%cal Gh4h5,Ga6d6,
Gd6d7,Rc2c8,Rd7h7,Rc8h8] Diagram [#] "I have a clear plan to play h4-h5 and
then to penetrate with the rooks along the seventh rank and attack the black
king" Eljanov.} h5 {But now the g5 square is weakened and the white king can
march there.} 44. Ke3 Rg1 45. Kf4 Rg2 46. Rd6 Rg1 47. Rc8 Ra1 48. Kg5 {[%csl
Gg5,Yh7] White wins two pawns by force and the game.} ({Eljanov demostrated
the alternative winning plan after} 48. Rxd5 exd5 (48... Nb6 49. a8=Q) 49. Rxa8
g6 50. Ke5 Ra5 51. e3 Kg7 52. Kd6 Kh7 53. Kc6 {[%csl Yd5][%cal Rc6b6,Yc6d5,
Ge3e8] Diagram [#] and the threat Kc6-b6 forces the black rook to abandon the
d pawn. After this White simply advances the e pawn into queen.}) 48... Rxa7
49. Rdd8 g6 50. Rh8+ Kg7 51. Rcg8+ Kf7 52. Rxg6 Ra6 53. Rh7+ Kf8 54. Kxh5 Nb6
55. Kg5 Nc4 56. h5 Nd6 57. Rf6+ Kg8 58. Rd7 {Diagram [#]} 1-0

Nakamura will fight for survival today. Report.

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