Nakamura takes on world's best at Tal Memorial
Hikaru is the No. 5 ranked player in the world after his blistering win in the U.S. Championship, he now has traveled to Moscow to play in the super strong, super-grandmaster tournament, the Tal Memorial.
This tournament is so strong that even though Hikaru is No. 5 in the world rankings, he is also ranked fifth in the tournament! The best of the best are gathering in Moscow for what is sure to be an exciting event.
Last year I went with Hikaru to Moscow for this same event. He did not fare well then, but I expect his positive momentum to follow him to Moscow this time around. Hikaru just came off a scintillating win in St. Louis, his confidence is high, his world ranking is the highest ever, and he now has experience playing this event, which will allow him to be better prepared for the stiff competition.
A few nights ago, I saw Sting in concert at the Fox Theatre, and I was amazed at the stamina of the 60-year-old rocker. He belted out songs for two hours, and it was one of the best shows I have seen. There was obviously a lot of preparation involved by everyone concerned, and the end result was a fantastic show.
The concert made me think about top-level chess: The better the "prep," the better the performance. Sting is actually a chess player, too; he even has a game with chess legend Garry Kasparov from an exhibition a few years ago.
I’m sure Hikaru is channeling his inner Sting right now, as he prepares himself for one of the strongest tournaments of the year.
The world's big three, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Vladimir Kramnik, the only three players in the world currently rated higher than 2800, are all top contenders to win the event, but they are all well aware of Hikaru's presence.
The tournament begins Friday, June 8, and it is a round-robin (all-play-all) 10-player event. If Hikaru can have another great tournament, he will likely get to No. 4 in the world and get close to becoming next member of the "2800 club."
Ben Finegold is the GM in residence at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.