Norway Chess R05: why did Caruana resign?

6/10/2014 – He started this Super-GM tournament with two wins. In round five Fabiano Caruana found himself defending a King's Indian against Vladimir Kramnik. Just when everything seemed safe the young Italian GM blundered, and a few moves later, to the surprise of everyone, resigned. The position was dire, but was it actually lost? Our endgame specialist Karsten Müller clears up this question.

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The Unibet Norway Chess Tournament will take place in Stavanger, Norway from June 2nd to June 13th. The tournament features some of the best players in the world and has a massive rating average of 2774

Round five of this Super-GM tournament – our reporter GM Alejandro Ramirez – called is a "blunderful round", brought us a remarkable game between Vladimir Kramnik and Fabiano Caruana. After 52 moves of a King's Indian, where the young Italian GM (who is currently number three in the world) had been desperately defending, the following position was reached:

Kramnik,V (2783) - Caruana,F (2791) [E60]
2nd Norway Chess 2014 Stavanger NOR (5), 08.06.2014

White has just played 52.Kg7, when suddenly Caruana resigned. In his notes, which are, incidentally, published immediately after the final game of the round is over, Alejandro Ramirez wrote: "The position is objectively winning for White, but I'm sure many players might have played on a few more moves. Kramnik himself was surprised that Caruana resigned, as he still has to prove the win." He gave a line to support it (52...Rb3 53.Kxg6 Rd3 54.Kf6 Rd6+ 55.Kf5 Rd3 56.e5 Kf8 57.Ke4 Rg3 58.Kf4 Rc3 59.e6 Rc6 60.Ke5 Rc3 61.Kf6 Rf3+ 62.Kg6 Rg3 63.Kf5 Re3 64.g6 Rf3+ 65.Ke4 Rg3 66.Ra8+ Ke7 67.Kf5 Rf3+ 68.Ke5 Re3+ 69.Kf4+-), but not everybody was convinced.

Fabiano Caruana, currently ranked number three in the world, before the start of the fateful round five

So we decided to bring in the big guns and asked the resident ChessBase endgame expert, GM Karsten Müller, to take a look. A few hours later he replied: "Alejandro is right, White is winning – see my attached analysis." Play through the analysis – you can learn a few things from it.

Not all rook endings are drawn

[Event "2nd Norway Chess 2014"] [Site "Stavanger NOR"] [Date "2014.06.08"] [Round "5"] [White "Kramnik, V."] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2783"] [BlackElo "2791"] [Annotator "Karsten MÃüller"] [PlyCount "103"] [EventDate "2014.06.03"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 c5 6. Nc3 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Qc7 8. Qd3 Nc6 9. O-O d6 10. b3 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Ne4 12. Nd5 Bxd4 13. Nxc7 Bxa1 14. Be3 Bf6 15. Nxa8 Nc3 16. Bxa7 Nxa2 17. Nc7 Nb4 18. Rd1 Kg7 19. f4 h5 20. Kf2 h4 21. c5 hxg3+ 22. hxg3 dxc5 23. Bxc5 Na6 24. Nxa6 bxa6 25. e4 Bg4 26. Rd5 Bb2 27. Bxe7 Re8 28. Bd8 Be6 29. Rd3 Bf6 30. Bxf6+ Kxf6 31. Bf3 Rb8 32. Bd1 Rb4 33. Ke3 Ke7 34. g4 f6 35. g5 fxg5 36. fxg5 a5 37. Kf4 Rb5 38. Rc3 Kd6 39. Bc2 Rb4 40. Rg3 Ke7 41. Rd3 Rb5 42. Rc3 Kd7 43. Bd1 Kd6 44. Rd3+ Ke7 45. Rd2 Bxb3 46. Bxb3 Rxb3 47. Rd5 a4 48. Ra5 a3 49. Ke5 Kf7 50. Ra7+ Ke8 51. Kf6 Rb6+ {[#]Not all rook endings are drawn White's active king makes the difference:} 52. Kg7 { and Caruana resigned.} ({This is early, but justified:} 52. Kg7 Rb3 ({After} 52... Re6 53. Rxa3 Rxe4 54. Kxg6 Rg4 {White can choose between} 55. Rf3 $18 { [%cal Gf3f8]} ({and} 55. Ra8+ Ke7 56. Rg8 $1 $18 {[%cal Gg6h7] when he will reach Lucena's winning position sooner or later.})) 53. e5 $5 {White takes his time as the pawn g3 can not run away.} (53. Kxg6 {wins as well, but is more complicated, e.g.} Kf8 54. Kf5 Rf3+ 55. Kg4 Re3 56. Kf4 Rb3 57. e5 Rb4+ 58. Kf5 Rb3 59. Kf6 Rf3+ 60. Kg6 Re3 61. Ra8+ Ke7 62. Kf5 {The checking distance of Black's rook is too short.} Rf3+ 63. Kg4 Re3 64. g6 Rxe5 65. g7 Re1 66. g8=Q Rg1+ 67. Kf3 Rxg8 68. Rxg8 a2 69. Ra8 $18) 53... Rf3 (53... Re3 54. Kxg6 Rxe5 55. Rxa3 Kf8 56. Ra8+ Ke7 57. Kh6 Kf7 58. g6+ $18) 54. e6 Re3 55. Kf6 Rf3+ 56. Kxg6 Re3 57. Kf6 Rf3+ 58. Kg7 Rb3 59. g6 Re3 60. Kh6 Rh3+ 61. Kg5 Rg3+ 62. Kf6 Rf3+ 63. Ke5 Re3+ 64. Kd4 Rxe6 65. Ra8+ Ke7 66. g7 $18) 1-0

After a loss in the next round (against his arch-enemy Veselin Topalov) Vladimir is still in the lead, which he shares with Carlsen and Caruana.

As Ramirez pointed out: there is only a single point separating the leaders from the players at the bottom of the table. It's anyone's tournament.


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vincero vincero 6/11/2014 12:58
i think it is fair to say when you need overnight analysis that goes 15-20 moves plus variations to prove a position winning, that you should at least play say 10!? moves and have your opponent prove he can reach the winning position...some 20 moves away.
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