Danil Dúbov is not just a brilliant innovator; their resilience and competitive capacity are also very great. The 24-year-old Russian has won the 2nd round of the final for the same result as he lost the 1st (2.5-1.5), forcing the American favorite, Hikaru Nakamura, 32, to dispute this Wednesday the 3rd to decide the winner of the fast online tournament Lindores Abbey.
“I tried to play like him, fast, even if it was at the cost of not making the best move, and without big mistakes. Hikaru does that very well, he is very rarely wrong, and I have managed to do it today too, ”Dúbov explained to Chess24, the virtual club organizing the tournament, a couple of minutes after winning the second round. He also revealed that on Monday he received some strange messages during the games: “Congratulations and encouragement, and also plays, which were not machine-based, but not too bad either. It was as if someone had hacked the connection. It distracted me, but it was not the cause of my defeat. ”
The key to the Russian’s comeback on Tuesday was generated in the first round. Nakamura, with white, followed a game that Dúbov lost against the Dutch Van Foreest in a secondary variant of the Sicilian Defense. But the Russian had learned his lesson very well, and he improved his game very soon, on the ninth play, and the consequence was frustrating for Nakamura: a very technical position, favorable to the Russian for his better pawn structure.
Hikaru Nakamura, last December, during the World Rapids Championship in Moscow María Emeliánova / FIDE
That is, Dúbov was doing just the opposite of the day before, when his excessive momentum and unnecessary risks led him to defeat. His exploitation of the positional advantage gained in this first game is truly exemplary, and shows a slightly airy facet of his style. Nakamura kicked when he could, until move 57, but everything was useless to avoid defeat.
No less surprising was the relative ease of Dúbov to contain at all times Nakamura’s desire for revenge in the second and third rounds, which ended in a draw without major shocks. The fourth was more exciting, with the American forced to win with Black, but the Russian did not suffer at any time, and even managed to achieve a lot of sales, but preferred to be conservative and secure the tie.
In theory, and according to statistics, Nakamura is still the favorite. But his psychological situation now is not easy to manage. He knew, and acknowledged it in public, that his opponent in the final is “very creative and brave,” but he felt superior, and he also said so. It is worth wondering how it will look now, after verifying that Dúbov is capable of transforming himself in 24 hours to become a pragmatist of highly refined technique.
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