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Fighting Chess with HIKARU NAKAMURA

Authors: Karsten Muller / Raymund Stolze

Publisher: Edition  OLMS 2012

Pages: 232

Can you name 2 players who proved to the world that they belong to the chess elite, without any trainer or coach aside them, and with their own efforts developed their own chess education? Yes, Robert James Fischer is one of them, and the other one is no less than Hikaru Nakamura.

When I read that GM Karsten Muller is one of the authors of this fabulous book, I was expecting a collection of Nakamura’s games with some endgame analysis, as Muller is a famous endgame analyst and author of several books on this technical phase. Nothing of it! The authors describe Nakamura’s childhood, how his familial environment, especially his stepfather,  helped (may be provoke is the right verb) him to get addict to the noble game; add to this the modern technology that nearly all kids were addicted to it, especially playing online. I liked very much the chapter explaining the relation between our hero and bullet-chess, especially that H-bomb (that is our hero nick-name) wrote a book about it. But the main bulk of this young biography is the comparison between Fisher’s performance and Nakamura’s. I will not get involved here in the details, but it suffice to say that Hikaru is most of the times seen as the new Fischer, though the performance of the former is still in the shadow of the later. Also it is worth to mention that the authors admitted that it is not possible to compare the strength of 2 players of 2 different eras.

When I reached the part concerning his 9 months training with The Boss, Nakamura and the authors transmitted our hero’s joy when he started getting coached by his idol, and his disappointment at the end of it, not for the training sessions’ contents, but the conflict, to a certain extent, between the 2 personalities, especially Nakamura’s regression for not participation in the 2011 World championship Fide KO Qualification Cup, based on Kasparov’s wish.

Another good feature of the book is that it contains a special chapter on H-bomb’s repertoire in the King’s Indian, and how much this army served him well as it did to Fischer. You can feel and get amazed by our hero’s games when he used his defense (or attack!) to smash players having the title (World Champion) or (Top player) written beside their names.

Two regrets: The first one: there was no need to waste 3 pages on a game that Nakamura lost against WGM Bettina Trabert when he was 10 years old, the period of his live when he started getting involved in chess especially that one of the pages is just a scan of the score sheet of the mentioned game. Putting more games of our hero against the giants was much more appreciated. The second one: the book contains less pages than (Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen), as Carlsen is considered Nakamura’s main rival.

All in all, a nice book, worth buying it.


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