Caruana wins Rapid, Carlsen tops Zurich

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/4/2014 – The World Champion saw his lead be seriously diminished as he was only able to score 2.0/5 in the rapid section of Zurich 2014. Caruana had an amazing performance, playing convincing chess and not once being in serious problems. His 4.0/5 was half more than Nakamura and one more than Aronian. The Armenian and the Italian shared second in the final tournament standings.

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The «Zurich Chess Challenge 2014» will be the first encounter between the newly crowned World Champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, and the former title holder, India’s Viswanathan Anand after their recent match in Chennai. From Wednesday, 29 January to Tuesday, 4 February 2014, they will compete in the 3rd Zurich Chess Challenge along with four other great chess stars: Levon Aronian (Armenia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Fabiano Caruana (Italy) and Boris Gelfand (Israel).

Rapids - Round One

Round 1
Gelfand, Boris 2777
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Aronian, Levon 2812
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Carlsen won his first game in the rapid, and it was the only rapid game he won

Round one started with a bang. With three decisive results and many interesting games it was difficult to pay attention to a single board. Interestingly all of the games started 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3.d5, but after that Black chose three different moves in the different boards! First up, Carlsen played a Benko Gambit against Gelfand:

[Event "Zurich CC Rapid 2014"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "1"] [White "Gelfand, B."] [Black "Carlsen, M."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A58"] [WhiteElo "2761"] [BlackElo "2872"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2014.02.04"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 {The Benko Gambit. Recommended as a dangerous weapon in rapids and in must-win situations due to the fast and long lasting initiative granted by the pawn.} 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 {Not supposed to be a good way of continuing the Benko.} (6... Bxa6 {is by far the most common move.}) 7. e4 O-O 8. Nf3 (8. e5 $6 Ne8 9. Nf3 d6 {probably gives Black enough counterplay against White's overxposed center.}) 8... Qa5 9. Bd3 $2 {A blunder, so soon!} (9. Bd2 Bxa6 10. Bxa6 (10. Be2 $5 d6 11. O-O Nbd7 12. a4 $14) 10... Qxa6 {was eventually drawn in Dragun-Dubov, just a couple of months ago in the European blitz championship in Warsaw.}) 9... Nxd5 $1 { Already White's position is bad.} 10. exd5 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 $2 (11. Bd2 Bxd2+ 12. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 13. Kxd2 Bxa6 $15 {leaves White in an inferior position but at least material remains equal.}) 11... Qxc3+ {The tactical justification of Black's play is that White cannot defend the rook on a1, cover the check and keep the bishop on d3 defended all at the same time.} 12. Qd2 (12. Bd2 Qxd3 $19 {is hopeless.}) 12... Qxa1 13. O-O Bxa6 {White is trying to create an attack on the kingside exploiting the missing bishop on g7, but tactics dont work out in his favor.} 14. Bb2 (14. Ba3 Qg7 15. Bxc5 $19 {is insufficient compensation. }) 14... Qxa2 15. Ra1 (15. Qh6 Qxb2 16. Ng5 Qg7 {simply does not work.}) 15... Qb3 16. Be4 d6 {no threat, so Black develops.} 17. Rb1 f6 18. Bxf6 Qc4 $1 { Just in time the Black queen attacks the e4 bishop and the f6 bishop is already hanging.} 19. Bb2 Qxe4 20. Re1 (20. Qh6 Qxb1+ {is a problem.}) 20... Qd3 21. Qxd3 (21. Qh6 Rf7 22. Ng5 Qd2 {and White's everything is hanging.}) 21... Bxd3 22. Rxe7 Rxf3 (22... Rf5 {was fine too.}) 23. gxf3 Na6 {A solid extra piece and checks will soon run out. A demolition.} 0-1

Aronian chose a dubious but solid set-up against Anand. Surely at some point the passivity of Black's position put him in an inferior position, but Anand underestimated Aronian's possibilities of breakthrough in the queenside and he let the Armenian blast the position open, which exposed Anand's stranded king on c2. Withing a few moves White's position turned from slightly better to completely lost.

Lastly Caruana smashed Nakamura's Benoni, no questions asked. The Italian played a model game in the Fianchetto system.

Rapids - Round Two

Round 2
Aronian, Levon 2812
1-0
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
1-0
Anand, Vishy 2773

Things continued spicy in round two. Caruana and Gelfand played an interesting game that ended in a draw but it paled in comparison to the other two games.

Aronian scored a very important win in round two, putting real pressure on Carlsen

In a fantastic positional duel Aronian smashed Carlsen. A well played Catalan set-up allowed him pressure on the light squares that proved to be too much for the World Champion. With precise strikes Aronian got a decisive advantage, and although he missed his opportunities to finish off the game he still held the advantage firmly on his side. Slowly but surely he converted a winning endgame and took the full point.

Lastly Nakamura made Anand look like an amateur:

[Event "Zurich CC Rapid 2014"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "2"] [White "Nakamura, Hi"] [Black "Anand, V."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A01"] [WhiteElo "2776"] [BlackElo "2773"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2014.02.04"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. b3 {Nakamura seems to like this in rapid games, he used it with great success to win the London rapids last year, and in this tournament he beat both Anand and Aronian with it.} e5 2. Bb2 d6 {a solid but somewhat passive set-up.} 3. e3 Nf6 4. d4 {forcing some lines open, but not without giving Black something in return. In this case, tempi.} exd4 5. Qxd4 Nc6 6. Qd2 Be7 ( 6... g6 $5 {allows Black to fight for the diagonal, and is worth considering.}) 7. Nc3 O-O 8. O-O-O {opposite side castling indicates a fearsome battle ahead!} a6 9. f3 {both players prepare to pawn storm the opponent} b5 10. g4 b4 11. Nce2 a5 12. Ng3 Ne8 $4 {A strategically strange move and a tactical blunder!} ( 12... Nd7 13. Qd5 $6 (13. Nf5 $6 Bf6 $15 {and Black has good chances in this position.}) 13... Bb7 14. Bb5 Nb6 $15) 13. Qd5 $1 {Nakamura will never let one of these opportunities past him.} Bb7 14. Bb5 {suddenly its impossible to defend the knight on c6...} Ne5 {giving the piece up is hopeless, but nothing else helped} (14... Qd7 {permanently pins his own piece. This can be easily exploited by preparing Nf5.} 15. g5 $1 a4 16. h4 $1 {Black is paralyzed and will surely die to the pawn storm.}) 15. Qxb7 Rb8 16. Qd5 Nf6 {Black gets back some of his material but not nearly enough.} 17. Qxe5 dxe5 18. Rxd8 Rfxd8 19. Bd3 {White's position is just winning. Two pieces are far more powerful than the rook here.} Bc5 20. Bxe5 Bxe3+ 21. Kb1 Nd5 22. Nf5 Bd2 23. Bxg7 Nf4 24. Ne2 Nxd3 25. cxd3 Rxd3 26. Kc2 {0/2 for Anand, and not in a good way either.} 1-0

Rapids - Round Three

Round 3
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2812
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Round three was a little more quiet. Carlsen spoiled a clear advantage against Nakamura and had to content himself with a draw, but surely the advantage should have allowed him to at least put much more pressure on his opponent than what happened in the game. Gelfand was in some problems against Aronian as he lost a pawn against the pressure of the Black pieces, but the opposite colored bishops allowed him to mount an initative and regain his lost pawn, entering a completely drawn endgame.

The fans were amazed at the level of fighting chess displayed

Anand lost his third game in a row, as Caruna outplayed him in a model Sicilian. The Indian had chances to draw the game at a couple of junctures, but he was simply not in form to calculate the draws out.

Rapids - Round Four

Round 4
Anand, Vishy 2773
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
1-0
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2812

This was certainly a decisive round. With Aronian on Carlsen's toes it was still possible for the Armenian to catch him in standings. Anand and Gelfand played a ridiculously long game in which more than half of the game was spent with Black's queen chasing White's king around with no success. Literally more than half the game was that.

Caruana had a smashing performance in the rapid
unfortunately for him his classical start was bad

Caruana took advantage of a miscalcaultion by Carlsen, obtained two pieces for a rook and then proceeded to outplay his opponent and win the game. This seemed to pave the way for Aronian who had good chances against Nakamura, but the American proved to be too resourceful:

[Event "Zurich CC Rapid 2014"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "4"] [White "Nakamura, Hi"] [Black "Aronian, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A01"] [WhiteElo "2776"] [BlackElo "2826"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "155"] [EventDate "2014.02.04"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. b3 {well, it's Hikaru after all.} d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bb2 Bf5 {One of the many possible set-ups. This one completely ignores the bishop on b2 but attempts to take control of the light squares of the center.} 4. h3 {Signaling aggression. Obviously the only point of this move is to play g4, g5 and mate Black on the kingside.} h6 5. Nf3 e6 6. c4 Be7 7. g4 Bh7 8. Rg1 Nbd7 9. cxd5 exd5 10. h4 { If you say a, you must say b.} Ne4 $5 {Aronian isn't one to shy away from complications.} 11. g5 (11. Bxg7 Rg8 12. Bb2 (12. Bxh6 $2 Bxh4 $19 {White cannot defend the f2 pawn and the threat of Qf6.}) 12... Bf6 $5 13. Nc3 Ne5 { with a complex game. It's also possible for Black to take the h4 pawn and that's also not easy to assess.}) 11... hxg5 12. hxg5 O-O $5 {Castling into it to defend the pawn! The h-file being open is scary, but can White really transfer pieces that way?} 13. d3 Bb4+ 14. Nbd2 Nxd2 15. Nxd2 c5 {The point of this move is to seal in the bishop with d4 at some point.} 16. a3 Bxd2+ 17. Qxd2 Re8 18. f4 Qb6 19. Kf2 (19. g6 {immediately was much better} fxg6 (19... Bxg6 20. f5 Bxf5 21. Rxg7+ Kf8 {doesn't look like what a huamn would do, but Black might be ok.}) 20. Kf2 {and now White's setup makes more sense.}) 19... Qxb3 20. g6 $2 {Overly optimistic, perhaps missing Black's 21st move.} Bxg6 21. f5 d4 $1 22. e4 (22. exd4 Bxf5 23. dxc5 Bg6 {should be very bad for White who is down a pawn and has an exposed king, whereas Black's own monarch is starting to feel comfortable.}) 22... Bxf5 $2 {Way too aggressive.} (22... Bh5 23. Rg5 g6 $1 {And Black's kingside will hold.}) 23. exf5 Re3 24. Rb1 $1 {The only move, but sufficient. Here Nakamura defends his bishop and threatens Bxd4. } Qd5 (24... Rae8 25. Bxd4 Qxb1 26. Bxe3 $18) 25. Rxg7+ $1 {The point!} Kf8 26. Rg2 Ne5 (26... Rae8 {was perhaps better.}) 27. Qd1 Re8 28. Bc1 b6 $5 {Played after a long think.} (28... Nf3 $5 29. Bxe3 dxe3+ 30. Kg3 Qe5+ 31. Kxf3 Qxf5+ { should end in a perpetual.}) 29. Qh5 (29. Bxe3 dxe3+ 30. Kg3 Qd6 {and Black's initiative is very real.}) 29... Qf3+ $2 {The endgame is not good for Black.} ( 29... Rf3+ $1 30. Kg1 Rxf5 $1 31. Bh6+ Ke7 32. Qxf5 $1 Nf3+ 33. Qxf3 Qxf3 34. Be2 {with a strange to evaluate position. I like White, but that's a lot of pawns.}) 30. Qxf3 Rxf3+ 31. Kg1 Rxf5 32. Rf2 {Now white's advantage is stable, the pair of bishops are very powerful and the knight on e5 will not be stable.} Rh5 33. Bf4 Re6 34. Be2 Rh3 35. Rd1 Ke7 36. Kg2 Rh8 37. Bh2 Rg6+ 38. Kf1 f6 39. Ke1 Ng4 (39... Rhg8 40. Bxe5 fxe5 41. Bf3 {looks very ugly. No one wants to have all of his pawns blockaded.}) 40. Bxg4 Rxg4 41. Kd2 Rg6 42. a4 Rhg8 43. Re1+ Kd7 44. Ree2 Kc6 45. Kc2 f5 46. Kb3 Rf8 $6 {Making White's life a little easier.} 47. Re7 f4 48. Rxa7 Re6 49. Kc4 Re1 50. Bxf4 {White's up too much material.} Rc1+ 51. Bxc1 Rxf2 52. Kb3 Rf3 53. Kc2 c4 $1 {Still fighting, but insufficient.} 54. dxc4 Rc3+ 55. Kb2 Rxc4 56. Bd2 d3 57. Kb3 Rc2 58. Bf4 Rf2 59. Rc7+ Kd5 60. Rd7+ Kc6 61. Rc7+ Kd5 62. Be3 Rf1 63. Rd7+ Ke4 64. Bxb6 $4 { This leads to a drawn endgame!} (64. Bd2 {and the d3 pawn will fall eventually. }) 64... Rb1+ 65. Kc4 Rxb6 66. Rxd3 Ra6 $4 {Returning the favor, to be fair both players had seconds on the clock at this point.} (66... Rc6+ $1 67. Kb5 Rc1 $1 68. Rb3 (68. Rd8 Rb1+ 69. Ka6 Ke5 {Black's king is not cut off by enough files. This endgame is a draw.}) 68... Kd5 {is a drawn endgame.}) 67. Ra3 {Now this is losing.} Ra5 68. Kb4 Ra8 69. Kc5 Rc8+ 70. Kb6 Kd5 71. a5 Kd6 72. Rd3+ Ke7 73. a6 Rb8+ 74. Kc7 Rb1 75. Re3+ Kf7 76. Ra3 Rc1+ 77. Kb6 Rb1+ 78. Ka5 {A thrilling game!} 1-0

Rapids - Round Five

Round 5
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777
0-1
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Anand never found himself in Zurich

Carlsen forced a draw against Anand without any incidents so as to not risk the tournament lead. With this draw he clinched first place no matter what the other boards did. Aronian had no real chances to win against Caruana and if anything the Italian was better in most of the game, just not by much. To finish the tournament off Nakamura outplayed Gelfand and won a nice game full of tactical resources. The Israeli flagged in an already hopeless position.

With this handshake the tournament concludes!

Arianne Caoili keeping track of the action

Daniel King shows the game Caruana vs Nakamura and Caruana vs Carlsen

Rapid Standings

Classical Standings

Final Tournament Standings

Carlsen still won, despite today's results

Despite Carlsen's poor performance in the rapid, scoring only 2.0/5, his superior standing in the classical tournament, which counted for double, allowed him to top the leaderboard a point ahead of both Aronian and Caruana. The three of them were far and away superior to their opponents, especially Anand and Gelfand who had relatively poor showings in both events.

Rank Name Pts. Elo
1 Magnus Carlsen 10 2872
2 Fabiano Caruana 9 2782
3 Levon Aronian 9 2812
4 Hikaru Nakamura 2789
5 Viswanathan Anand 5 2773
6 Boris Gelfand 2777

Farewell Zurich, thanks for a magnificent event and this fantastic view:

Replay rapid games

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Cristian Chirila - Guest Commentator

Former World u-16 Champion and currently a grandmaster finishing his studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, Cristian is an ambitious chess player. Find out more about Cristian, including his chess lesson services, biography and games here.

Maria Emelianova - Photographer

Maria Emelianova is 26 years old, born in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Women FIDE Master, with a 2113 Elo rating. After finishing school Maria moved to Moscow to study at the university, so chess was forgotten for some time. She worked for about a year with Alexander Roshal in the chess magazine "64". Her carrier as a chess photographer started at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. "It was just a hobby, but somehow became an interesting job," says Maria, who works with a Canon 1DX. "Now I am finishing my studies at two universities in Moscow, and am looking forward to a future in the big world of chess."

Schedule and Pairings

The event is a six player round robin, with a rate of play of 40 moves in 120 minutes, then 20 moves in 60 minutes and the rest of game in 15 minutes, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. Special rule: in case of a draw before move 40, an additional rapid game will be played (which does not count for the overall result).

Wed. January 29: 19:00  Opening Ceremony & Blitz
Thu. January 30: 15:00  Round 1
Fri. January 31: 15:00  Round 2
Sat. February 01: 15:00  Round 3
Sun. February 02: 15:00  Round 4
Mon. February 03: 15:00  Round 5
Tue. February 04: 13:00  Rapid Tournament 19:00  Closing Ceremony
  • The blitz will be used to determine the colors
  • The classical time control gives two points to wins, one for draws and none for losses
  • The rapid time control gives one point to wins, half to draws and none for losses

The winner will be the one who scores the most points between the classical tournament and the rapid.

Schedule of Commentary

Date   English German
30.01.2014 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
31.01.2014 Round 2 Daniel King Oliver Reeh
01.02.2014 Round 3 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff
02.02.2014 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
03.02.2014 Round 5 Alejandro Ramirez Klaus Bischoff

Schedule and results

Round 1 – January 30, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
1-0
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Aronian, Levon 2812
1-0
Anand, Vishy 2773
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Round 2 – January 31, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2812
Gelfand, Boris 2777
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 3 – February 01, 15:00h
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Round 4 – February 02, 15:00h
Gelfand, Boris 2777
0-1
Anand, Vishy 2773
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
1-0
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Aronian, Levon 2812
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 5 – February 03, 15:00h
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2812
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777

Rapid Schedule

Round 1
Gelfand, Boris 2777
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Aronian, Levon 2812
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 2
Aronian, Levon 2812
1-0
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
1-0
Anand, Vishy 2773
Round 3
Anand, Vishy 2773
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2812
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
Round 4
Anand, Vishy 2773
½-½
Gelfand, Boris 2777
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
1-0
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789
1-0
Aronian, Levon 2812
Round 5
Carlsen, Magnus 2872
½-½
Anand, Vishy 2773
Aronian, Levon 2812
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2782
Gelfand, Boris 2777
0-1
Nakamura, Hikaru 2789

Links

The games will be 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.


Topics Zurich 2014

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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