Hikaru Nakamura’s Most Brilliant Moves on Chess.com

Happy Birthday to GM Hikaru Nakamura! The mega chess star has been entertaining fans online for two decades and counting and his bullet and blitz skills are legendary. He has set the world record for most bullet wins against unique players in an hour, he has won many more Titled Tuesday tournaments than anyone else, and he has won three consecutive Chess.com Speed ​​Chess Championships from 2018-2020 .

The last three SCC main events have all been won by Nakamura.

Nakamura is the largest chess streamer on Twitch and the first to reach a million followers on the platform. He also has one of the best YouTube channels in the chess world.

Chess.com is celebrating by highlighting some of Nakamura’s most brilliant moves he’s played on the site. Each of these moves you see below got the coveted double exclamation mark from our Game Review chess engine, instead of a human annotator.

We also know from our new Insights feature that between blitz and bullet, Hikaru has made over 5,000 brilliant moves in his time on Chess.com. This means that there is a lot of games and moves to go through and choose from, so this is by no means a complete roundup, but here are some of our favorite recent brilliant moves from Hikaru.


Crushing Queen Sacs

One of the best feelings in chess is to give up the most powerful piece in exchange for an instant win. If you give Hikaru a forced checkmate, he will find it, even if it requires the queen sack.

We start with a devastating final move against GM Daniel Naroditsky, reminiscent of the famous Levitzky-Marshall game, where pristine pawn cover for the king was no match for a queen either.

This finish against GM Srinath Narayanan may be a little easier, but it’s still a striking end to a sharp match.

The discovered check here against IM Liam Merry that follows adds another layer to the degree. Still no problem for Hikaru.

Even if his opponent has two queens, Hikaru will calmly give up his own queens if asked. IM Mahammad Muradli might have expected 36.Bxc1 and play continues, but routine recaptures sometimes don’t help.

Hikaru Nakamura
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos has aliens; Nakamura has queen sacks. Photo source: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Tactical Power

Hikaru has routinely stunned his Twitch audience with his quick and incredibly deep calculations that he streams live, but even if you can’t follow his tactics live, his sharp calculation of forced variations and clean tactics is always apparent.

Here’s a surprise promotion tactic in a one minute bullet against bullet specialist GM Andrew Tang.

Far from the only time Hikaru dominated at bullet.

If a bullet wick like GM Tang couldn’t resist Hikaru’s tactics, what chance does an anonymous master have?

Even GothamChess isn’t immune to Hikaru’s tactical blows. IM Levy Rozman started this game in a position from the immortal game, with an extra move for white to start, giving a +5 starting advantage. Hikaru won anyway and saved his best move for last.

Tactical finesse

Sometimes stunning tactics don’t win right away, but instead lead to big positional gains. See, for example, the positional pressure being put on GM Jose Martinez here thanks to a fork threat.

Hikaru Nakamura
You would also smile after playing these types of tactics. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

When it comes to the story of Chess.com, you can’t tell it without Hikaru or GM Robert Hess. In this game, however, the “World Hess Hampion” gets into trouble because of a pin on the long diagonal.

Finally, GM Velimir Ivic’s position is hit by back-to-back deflection tactics against his rear rank, somewhat reminiscent of Adams-Torre 1920.

Resourceful Defense

While Hikaru’s offensive skills have been on display thus far, perhaps it’s his defensive skills that really set him apart from the rest of the elite online field. Hikaru constantly finds tenacious defenses with seconds on his clock. Getting a winning position against Hikaru is hard, but winning a winning position is several times more difficult.

No defense source makes the same impression as turning a dead loss into a stalemate, as Hikaru does here against GM Zbigniew Pakleza.

Defense also comes in other forms. Sometimes returning material is the best way to hold onto the odds in a position. This one comes from Hikaru’s speed run to a 3000 rating on his “Trix” account.

h3 Will make you pay

This is a unique one, but if you have white against Hikaru, you have to watch out for that h3 square. He’ll make you pay if you don’t and we’ve already seen an example in his wife’s pocket against Danya. Here are two more examples: no checks or captures, but they lead to a win.

Hikaru Nakamura
Hikaru focuses intently on something. A sacrifice on h3, perhaps? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

First, Hikaru pays tribute to GM Nigel Short with a king walk against GM Benjamin Bok.

Then he mirrors GM Alexei Shirov with …Bh3!! but here Hikaru has a very different point in a game against GM Salem Saleh.

The positional exchange ac

We doubt it took Hikaru more than a few seconds to decide on these positional exchange sacrifices. It doesn’t require much math, but it’s still nice to see such a dominance.

This one is particularly striking aesthetically, with the rook standing proudly amid four of Black’s pieces in close proximity, attacking the important d6 square.

Positive sacrifices usually take time to pay off, but this one ended the game in just 18 moves against GM Zhamsaran Tsydypov.


Playing a brilliant move is great, of course, but playing a brilliant game is even better. Here are two of Hikaru’s most accurate and beautiful blitz games, each with multiple brilliant moves and worthy of being included in any collection of best games.

Hikaru has won 12 Titled Tuesday tournaments in 2021 alone (including hitting an unprecedented +11 -0 =0 perfect score on August 17), but his win on May 4 would not have happened without this sustained effort against GM Vladimir Dobrov . At the peak of the game, there are not one but two queen bags. In the beginning, the queen is untouchable due to mating; two moves later, another sacrifice is made, this time forcing checkmate.

Hikaru Nakamura
A common victory thumbnail in our Titled Tuesday reports.

We end with perhaps Hikaru’s best overall game from the entire collection, one against GM Hans Niemann. No less than four of Hikaru’s last five moves get the engine’s double exclamation!!

Happy Birthday Hikaru! What was your favorite brilliant move from this article? Let us know in the comments below!

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