A compelling portrait of the winner of the 2017 Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, who also happens to be the most exciting player in the world right now.
Each chapter begins with a game or two from Wijk aan Zee 2011, Nakamura’s breakthrough tournament – he won it, finishing ahead of Anand and Carlsen and a slue of other elite players – and then goes on to discuss a key aspect of his game. Nakamura’s prowess in the endgame, his opening repertoire and in particular his penchant for the King’s Indian Defence, the risk-taking and fighting spirit that’s so characteristic of his style, and his enthusiasm for bullet and blitz; these are some of the topics under discussion. A wide-ranging interview takes up the bulk of chapter 6.
My only slight qualm is with the constant comparison with Fischer (particularly rife on pages 109-124), which doesn’t do Nakamura any favours and, anyway, is beside the point. He is an elite player certainly, but he is not and is unlikely to be the dominant force that Fischer once was. And he plays much more than Fischer ever did – a different approach entirely. Perhaps the comparison is a curse that all talented American grandmasters must endure (Seirawan got it to some extent). Anyway, results and interviews (e.g. this one at Chessbase) suggest that Nakamura has found his own path.
There’s plenty of chess here, the final chapter including five of Nakamura’s best games (four chosen by the player himself), but as intimated it is more than simply a games collection. This is a terrific book overall and important too, in that Nakamura may well be Carlsen’s next challenger.
Hikaru Nakamura’s website is here.
The publisher’s description of Fighting Chess with Hikaru Nakamura by Karsten Müller and Raymund Stolze can be read here.
By Karsten Müller and Raymund Stolze
Edition Olms, 2012