Sunday, 20 January 2019

Game of the Month, January 2019

Normally the criteria for inclusion in a Game of the Month article would include, as a minimum, being a KCC member and playing an interesting game, preferably ending in victory. But I have stretched the envelope a bit this time around, so we have a Kenilworth resident (albeit one who did make a single appearance for the D team a few years ago and who has more recently made many Thursday evening appearances at the Gauntlet), playing a rather unexciting game, that he lost rather anti-climactically.  But when I tell you that in opposition to David Phillips was 4 times US Champion; super-GM; and on-line Blitz and Bullet Legend/World Number 1, Hikaru Nakamura, and that there was very nearly one hell of an upset, you will see that this was no ordinary game.

The game was played on the platform as a 3 minute Blitz as part of one of Nakamura's regular streams (this one went on for 8 hours!), but David got to play him right at the start of the session, when the GM was presumably at his sharpest.

I feel pretty safe in stating that no-one else associated with KCC in any shape or form has ever played anyone with such a high rating. In fact, at the time of this game (only played earlier this month), Nakamura's Blitz rating was 3122!! So David was giving away the small matter of 1,032 rating points! Despite that, he came within a whisker of landing a very palpable hit on his illustrious opponent.

According to my engine, at no time in this game was Black ever better, not even by as much as 0.01 of a pawn. And of course, at one crucial moment he was considerably worse. Even if David had spotted 14 Nxf7, the GM would almost certainly still have won the game on time, since there was no increment and he was typically averaging only a third of David's time per move, despite the distractions of streaming. That doesn't detract from an excellent effort by David, against an opponent whose playing strength is of an order of magnitude we can hardly even comprehend.

David certainly doesn't need any chess advice from me, but the one thing I do dare to suggest to him is that he changes his internet provider. Every second counts when playing against GM Hikaru!!

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