Hikaru Nakamura admitted “today Wesley was clearly the better player”, but after three tense draws Wesley So grabbed a poisoned pawn in Game 4 and was immediately put to the sword. That meant Hikaru had won the American Cup and the maximum possible $60,000, while also moving up to world no. 5 after his two wins in classical chess.
Sunday’s 3rd and final American Cup showdown between Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So only happened because Wesley managed to win their 2nd match on demand on Saturday. Hikaru, who said he was busy preparing a big announcement, described himself as “very, very upset”, and explained how he spent his Saturday night.
Hikaru explained that only White can be better, with the knight jumping to f5, the d4-pawn not a weakness because of the d5-pawn, and a white rook able to come to the c-file.
In fact after 24…cxd5 25.Rxe6 Rxe6 26.Rc1 Rc6 27.Nf5 Hikaru called his decision to play 27…Kf7!? instead of trading rooks on c1 “inexplicable”.
The players will next be in action in the Chessable Masters, the 2nd event on the $2 million 2023 Champions Chess Tour, with Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So joined by fellow American Cup players Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, as well as Magnus Carlsen, Liem Le, Vladimir Fedoseev and Vladislav Artemiev. That runs April 3-7 and will serve as a warm-up for the Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Ding Liren World Championship match that kicks off two days later.
Replay all the American Cup games:
- American Cup: Champions bracket | Elimination bracket
- American Women’s Cup: Champions bracket | Elimination bracket
- Official website
- Garry Kasparov: “I can hardly call it a World Championship match”
- Nakamura world no. 5 after fast American Cup start
- Nakamura-So and Krush-Lee in American Cup finals
- Levon Aronian beats Fabiano Caruana in Armageddon
- Nakamura and Krush win American Cup Champions brackets
- So and Lee earn shot at American Cup revenge
- Nakamura survives American Cup thriller against So
- Irina Krush defends her American Cup title