Sinquefield 09: Lucky Breaks

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/6/2014 – Two players in this tournament have had difficulties holding acceptable positions and converting advantageous ones. However today finally both of these players received a little "break" and managed to draw their lost games. Aronian entered a complicated rook endgame against Carlsen, but White misplayed it and allowed a Vancura defense. Nakamura held on by the skin of his teeth.

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2014 Sinquefield Cup

This super-GM double round robin tournament is being played from August 27th to September 7th. It is billed as the strongest tournament in the history of chess.

The players – Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) – are the world's number 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, the average rating is 2802, making this the first ever Category XXIII tournament!

The prize fund is US $315,000 in total, with the winner getting $100,000, the runner up $75,00, and the rest $50,000 – $20,000. The venue is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center at 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108. Tickets cost $15 per round, $65 for five rounds and $100 for all ten rounds.

Round Nine

Round 09 - September 05, 2014
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2805
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2772

For the first time in this event all games finished in a draw, but the way to get there varied greatly between each game. You could argue that two of the players received a gift from their opponents, as both Nakamura and Aronian were lost today.

Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ Nakamura, Hikaru
Nakamura can count his lucky stars in this one. Following the recent Anand-Karjakin game from the 2014 candidates, the American soon found himself in a slightly worse position when he allowed White some rook activity with the rook-lift Rd4. After that the position demanded precision and care, but Nakamura was not able to find the exact defense.

Nakamura finally got a lucky break this event

Caruana's activity netted him a pawn, and two of those were passed. He had the chance of ripping apart Black's blockade in several occasions, first with a pawn sacrifice and then with a more obvious exchange sacrifice that would have forced Nakamura to resign. After missing these opportunities Nakamura suddenly found saving chances and he exploited them perfectly, eventually reaching a lucky draw.

Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ Aronian, Levon
The World Champion obtained some comfortable pressure in the opening, and slowly but surely it seemed as if that pressure was increasing - especially with some strange and weakening moves by Aronian. However the Armenian's play wasn't senseless at all, somehow he obtained counterplay and the position was not easy to play for either side.

Carlsen almost won like his old self, but he let it slip at the last moment

A mistake left Aronian in a difficult rook endgame that required an incredible amount of precision. Carlsen reached a winning position but blundered it all away with the move 46.h6?? instead of 46.Kc2! With this error Aronian was able to beautifully show the Vancura Defense and obtained a draw out of seemingly nowhere. Many spectators without access to tablebases were confused online as the engines keep saying this position is a win, but it most certainly was not.

Carlsen tried for dozens of moves after the game was clearly drawn

Aronian's rook endgame was hard to evalute, but a win was there

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime ½-½ Topalov, Veselin
White's opening did not yield him much, and the game was equal almost all the way. Neither side had a significant strategical advantage at any point and when all the pieces came off the game was drawn.

Topalov solidly remains in the third position, one point ahead of...

MVL and Aronian

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Commentary provided by GM Varuzhan Akobian thanks to the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Standings

Photos by Lennart Ootes and Kevin Duggin

Pairings

Round 01 - August 27, 2014
Aronian, Levon 2805
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Topalov, Veselin 2772
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Round 02 - August 28, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
1-0
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Aronian, Levon 2805
1-0
Topalov, Veselin 2772
Round 03 - August 29, 2014
Topalov, Veselin 2772
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2805
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
Round 04 - August 30, 2014
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2772
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2805
Round 05 - August 31, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
Aronian, Levon 2805
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Topalov, Veselin 2772
1-0
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Round 06 - September 02, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2805
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
1-0
Topalov, Veselin 2772
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Round 07 - September 03, 2014
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
Topalov, Veselin 2772
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2805
Round 08 - September 04, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
0-1
Topalov, Veselin 2772
Aronian, Levon 2805
½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Round 09 - September 05, 2014
Caruana, Fabiano 2801
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Carlsen, Magnus 2877
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2805
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2772
Round 10 - September 06, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787   Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Topalov, Veselin 2772   Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Aronian, Levon 2805   Caruana, Fabiano 2801

Games start at 2 p.m. local time (21:00h CEST, 23:00h Moscow, Thursday 0:30 New Delhi, 04:00h Tokyo, 05:00 Canberra – check your location here).

Playoffs, if necessary, will be on the 7th at noon.

The games will be broadcast live on Playchess, with expert analysis (see schedule below).

Broadcast Schedule

Day Date Time Event
Playchess commentary
Wednesday Aug. 27 2 PM Round 1
Simon Williams
Thursday Aug. 28 2 PM Round 2
Simon Williams
Friday Aug. 29 2 PM Round 3
Simon Williams
Saturday Aug. 30 2 PM Round 4
Simon Williams
Sunday Aug. 31 2 PM Round 5
Simon Williams
Monday Sept. 1 Rest Day
Tuesday Sept. 2 2 PM Round 6
Daniel King
Wednesday Sept. 3 2 PM Round 7
Simon Williams
Thursday Sept. 4 2 PM Round 8
Daniel King
Friday Sept. 5 2 PM Round 9
Simon Williams
Saturday Sept. 6 2 PM Round 10
Chris Ward
Sunday Sept. 7 12 PM Playoffs
 

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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Frank Meier Frank Meier 9/8/2014 10:51
PerfectConscience:

I cant believe what you are writing! You accuse Caruana to use computer???

A player who is in the Top ten of the world ranking would never use this help.

He would be disgraced like Borislav Ivanov.

It would cost him his job (solid income and not a 9 to 5 work).

And ...
The players get checked for electronic stuff and Caruana wear elegant italian shoes, not the heavy shoes that Ivanov needed to store his "little helper".

Short said, it does not make sense to risk this just to climb 1 or 2 ranking places.
eltollo eltollo 9/7/2014 01:55
The comments in the Carlsen-Aronian game are confusing: at move 36 "it should be a draw", exclamation marks are given to black's moves 41 and 44, and yet he should have been lost on move 46 (after 46. Kc2!).
The variation ending in 51. a7 +- needs some further clarification, what about 51.. Ra2+ 52. Kxc3, Ra3+
53. Kb4, Ra4+ I do not immediately see how white can lift the stalemate without losing pawn a7 (if the king
moves to the h-file and white interposes on the g-file).
algorithmy2 algorithmy2 9/6/2014 10:15
??
firestorm firestorm 9/6/2014 08:36
Caruana is simply showing that all his hard work is paying off, and he has reached his peak yet. I always wondered why he wasn't in the Candidates; he will be.
vandal vandal 9/6/2014 10:33
i don't understand chess but f4 seems to me impressive great play by Aronian as well
vandal vandal 9/6/2014 10:12
impressive game by Carlsen
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 9/6/2014 09:36
PerfectConscience. Noob.
kandeebanr kandeebanr 9/6/2014 06:32
@perfectconscience

If your contention is true, then the same applies to Carlsen. When someone finds accurate moves, you define them as machine-like. Kasparov, Anand and Kramnik too find themselves in this club.
iSeeThis iSeeThis 9/6/2014 04:41
>> PerfectConscience

He is obliviously tired. It is a sign of thinking hard. No experts doubt in him. Why we do?
PerfectConscience PerfectConscience 9/6/2014 03:58
Caruana might have been getting some external cues during his 7-0 run. He is probably another Borislav Ivanov. So many engine-like moves.
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