Fabiano in the lead in Italian Championship

12/9/2008 – After five rounds he led the field by a full point. In round six Fabiano Caruana, one of the great youth talents in international chess – at 16 he is already rated 2640 – suffered a shock defeat against another 16-year-old, who is three hundred points below him on the rating list. But Fab Fab remains in the lead and looks poised to bounce back and win the championship. Report by Dario Mione.

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Fabiano Caruana in the lead in Italian Championship

By Dario Mione

Twelve players are competing in the 68th Italian Chess Championship, which is taking place in Martina Franca (Taranto) until December 14. Among the participants are all five members of Italian Olympiad team, fighting for the title. But all eyes are on 16-year-old GM Fabiano Caruana, the 2007 Italian Champion, who is leading after six rounds with 4.5 points, which means four wins, one draw and one loss. The loss came with white against Alessio Valsecchi, a same-age opponent.

Fabiano is a well-known star, being the strongest U16 player, and since a few months in the top 100 world ranking. That is why he has been invited to take part in some of the most important upcoming chess tournaments: soon after the Italian Chess Championship, Fabiano will be in Pamplona, Spain, from 22nd to 29th December. Then from 16th January to 1st February he will play the Corus B tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherland, where early this year he won the C-Group.

Leading by a full point after the first five rounds Fabiano suffered a painful loss in round six against a compatriot who is nominally three hundred points weaker than him:

Caruana,F (2640) - Valsecchi,A (2342) [B01]
LXVIII Campionato Italiano Assoluto Martina Franca ITA (6), 08.12.2008
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.d3 c6 6.Bd2 Qd8 7.Nf3 e6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.d4 0-0 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Bd3 b4 12.Ne4 Qd5 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 14.Bxb4 Qxa2 15.Bxf8 Kxf8 16.c3 Nd7 17.Bb1 Qa5 18.Qc4 Ba6 19.Qa2 Qb6 20.Bd3 Bb7 21.Be4 a5 22.Kc2 Rb8 23.Qb3 Qc7 24.Qc4 c5 25.Nd2 Bg5 26.dxc5 Ne5 27.Qa4 Ba6 28.Nb3 Nc4 29.Bd3?

What could be so wrong with this move? 29...Qf4! Threatens 30...Ne3+ and QxQ, but also horrid things like 30...Qxf2+, when 31.Kb1 is impossible because of 31...Qxb2#.

30.Qa2 a4 31.Nd2 Rxb2+ 32.Qxb2 Nxb2 33.Bxa6 Nxd1 34.Rxd1. Black has a queen and initiative for rook and knight. Fabiano struggles to survive but has no chance against his young opponent. 34...Qf5+ 35.Bd3 Qxc5 36.Ne4 Qe5 37.Nxg5 Qxg5 38.g3 Qd5 39.Rb1 Qg2 40.Rf1 e5 41.Be2 Qe4+ 42.Bd3 Qd5 43.Rb1 Qg2 44.Rf1 e4 45.Be2 e3 46.Kd3 exf2 47.c4 Ke7 48.Kd4 Qxh2 49.g4 a3 0-1.

Lest you think this was in any way typical, here's how fab Fab (fabulous Fabiano) dealt with GM Carlos Garcia Palermo in round two:

Caruana,F (2640) - Garcia Palermo,C (2459) [A60]
LXVIII Campionato Italiano Assoluto Martina Franca ITA (2), 04.12.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 Bd6 6.Nc3 0-0 7.Bg2 Re8 8.Nf3 a6 9.0-0 b5 10.Bg5 Bf8 11.d6 Bb7 12.e4 Ra7 13.Re1 h6 14.Bxf6 Qxf6 15.e5 Qe6 16.a4 b4 17.Ne4 Rc8 18.Rc1 c4 19.Qd4 Nc6 20.Qb6 Ba8 21.Nd4 Nxd4 22.Qxd4 1-0.

Contin,D (2318) - Caruana,F (2640) [A21]
LXVIII Campionato Italiano Assoluto Martina Franca ITA (5), 07.12.2008
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qb3 Nc6 4.Nf3 d6 5.e3 a5 6.a3 Bc5 7.Be2 f5 8.d3 Nf6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bd2 Kh8 11.Rad1 Qe8 12.Nd5 a4 13.Qc2 Nxd5 14.cxd5 Na5 15.Nxe5 Qxe5 16.d4 Bxd4 17.Bxa5 Bc5 18.Bc3 Qe8 19.Bd4 b6 20.Qc3 Rg8 21.Bd3 Bd7 22.Bc2 Qg6 23.f4 Ra5 24.Rf3 Qf7 25.Rh3 Re8 26.Rg3 Bxd4 27.Qxd4 Rc5 28.Bb1 Qe7 29.Kf2 Rf8 30.Rd2 Qf7 31.Rh3 Bb5 32.Ba2?

32...Re8 33.b4 Rc1 34.Rd1 Rc2+ 35.Rd2 c5. The white queen has no squares. 36.Rxc2 cxd4 37.exd4 Qe7 0-1.

Fabiano Caruana is a card-carrying member of the Torre & Cavallo Chess School of Brescia, where Messagerie Scacchistiche was established in 1990. This publishing house produces the monthly magazine "Torre & Cavallo Scacco!" ("Rook & Knight Mate!" in English). It is run by former Italian Chess Champion IM Roberto Messa.

Standings after six rounds



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