A review of Fighting Chess with Hikaru Nakamura A Chess Career in the Footsteps of Bobby Fischer by Karsten Müller and Raymund Stolze

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

Fighting Chess with Hikaru Nakamura
A Chess Career in the Footsteps of Bobby Fischer
By Karsten Müller and Raymund Stolze
Edition Olms, 2012
ISBN: 9783283010232

A compelling portrait of the most exciting player in the world right now.

Each chapter begins with a game or two from Wijk aan Zee 2011, arguably Nakamura’s breakthrough tournament – he won it, finishing ahead of Anand and Carlsen and other elite players – 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 of course 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 subtitle of the book and the constant comparison with Fischer (particularly 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.  Perhaps the comparison is a curse that all talented American grandmasters must endure (Seirawan got it to some extent).  Anyway, recent results and interviews (e.g. http://en.chessbase.com/post/interviews-with-aronian-and-nakamura) suggest that Nakamura has found his own path.

There’s plenty of chess in the book, 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 timely too, in that Nakamura will likely prove to be one of Carlsen’s most dangerous rivals over the coming years.

About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com