Sinquefield 06: He cannot be stopped

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/3/2014 – His attacks are well timed, his novelties uncomfortable to play against, his technique exquisite. Fabiano Caruana (picture from 1995!) moves to a gorgeous 6-0 after blowing Veselin Topalov off the board with a great tactical sacrifice that destroyed the Bulgarian's king position. The other games were interesting, but some players are imprecise and difficult to recognize. Round six report.

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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 Six

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

It has happened once before in history. Karpov started the Linares 1994 tournament with a devastating 6-0, but this must be even more impressive. Caruana moves to a 6-0, and unbelievable performance. He is winning so much rating that all of the other players in this event are losing some. The question in everyone's mind is not if he will win the tournament, but if he will go 10-0.

Live commentary at Lester's Sports Bar by GM Varuzhan Akobian and GM Ian Rogers

The commentators analyze in a flat-screen TV while the televisions
around the room show the live internet broadcast

Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Aronian, Levon
Nakamura repeated a line he tried against Carlsen last year, but he obtained next to nothing then and he obtained next to nothing now. Aronian tried to spice up the game after his opponent wasted two moves without any real purpose.

Nakamura has strangely been very imprecise

Kasparov had his own opinion of Nakamura's maneuver

However the Armenian might have overpressed, and his passed d-pawn was weaker than it seemed. Nakamura missed his chance to play around the pawn and capture it later, and instead attacked it too quickly. This let Aronian counter-attack the weak c4 pawn and after the trade of pawns the draw became very likely.

Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
An accelerated dragon, not the most common of openings at the top level but one that guarantees interesting fights. Unusually, MVL confused his move order and played 7...0-0 instead of 7...Qa5! Both variations are of course perfectly playable, but the real mistake came when it was time to retake on d5.

MVL confused his move-order and it left him in a position he was not too familiar with

Black should have taken with the knight and eased the pressure, but instead MVL took with the pawn and Carlsen seized his chance for the initiative. A transposition into a very pleasant endgame looked torturous for the French player as it was exactly what Carlsen loves: a position with no risk where he can push forever. However this did not happen today; actually Carlsen lost his advantage very quickly and the resulting opposite colored bishop endgame was an easy draw. Very strange.

"I had a good position today and I screwed up. That's why I'm in a foul mood now"
Carlsen explained to Maurice Ashley in the post-game show

Caruana, Fabiano 1-0 Topalov, Veselin
An absolute demolition! We recommend seeing the comments in the board below.

Caruana is one of the most humble players in the top level of chess. When asked about his performance compared to Karpov's in Linares 1994: ""In terms of play, I'm not even close to Karpov."

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Standings

Photos by Lennart Ootes and Kevin Duggin

Top twenty Live Ratings on 03 September 2014, 03:50 GMT

It is time to take a look at the (unofficial) live ratings. Currently Caruana has gained a whopping 30 rating points in Saint Louis, while Magnus Carlsen has lost eight, which brings the Italian to "just" 31 points behind the World Champion. More relavant is that he is now firmly entrenched in second place, 38 points ahead of his nearest rival.

Name Rating 
+/-
Age  
1 Carlsen 2862.4
-7.6
23
2 Caruana 2830.6
+29.6
22
3 Aronian 2793.3
-10.7
31
4 Grischuk 2789.0
0.0
30
5 Anand 2785.0
0.0
44
6 Topalov 2781.8
-2.2
39
7 Karjakin 2777.0
0.0
24
8 Nakamura 2773.5
-8.5
26
9 Vachier-Lagr. 2767.4
-0.6
23
10 Mamedyarov 2760.4
+4.4
29
 
Name Rating 
+/-
Age  
11 Kramnik 2760.0
0.0
39
12 Giri 2758.0
0.0
20
13 Dominguez 2755.0
0.0
30
14 So 2755.0
0.0
20
15 Adams 2752.0
0.0
42
16 Gelfand 2748.0
0.0
46
17 Jakovenko 2747.0
0.0
31
18 Vitiugov 2742.0
0.0
27
19 Ding, Liren 2738.6
-15.4
21
20 Wojtaszek 2736.0
0.0
27

Caruana's 2831 is the fourth highest in the history of the game: Carlsen hit 2889 in April this year, Kasparov was 2857 at his peak, and Aronian was 2836 last February. We are proud to note that we kind of recognized Fabiano's potential back in 2007, when he was just fifteen and we published a guess-who quiz on him:

Who is this grandmaster?

Can you guess who the cute young child in the photo is? Once again we provide you with some clues:

  • He was born in a country which is not that of his parents, i.e. he was "born abroad".

  • He started playing chess at an early age and showed great talent for the game, gaining the FM, IM and GM titles earlier than most of his compatriots.

  • In his early career he was often to be seen in the New York City area, where he was friends with Pal Benko and Susan Polgar.

  • Today he lives in Europe, but does not spent much time in his native country, although he is part of its chess federation and represents it.

  • He remains a strong GM, rated around 2600, the strongest player in his native country.

  • In the last weeks or months he played successfully in an international tournament, proving that age does not matter in chess.

  • To our delight he sends us deeply annotated games that provide valuable insight into the thought processes of a player of his calibre.

To give you an impression of his style of annotation here is a snippet from a game we recently received. The full version of this and a second beautifully annotated game will be published here in a few days. In the following position our grandmaster, who had white, had just played the exchange 14...Nb4xBd3 15.Pc2xNd3. He writes:

In my preparation before the game I assessed this position as favourable for White due to Black's insecure king and White's rapid development. I can only wonder what I was thinking. After Black's next move it is clear he will have few problems with his king, while White will sorely miss his light-squared bishop. 15...b6! Now I suddenly realised that only Black could have an advantage here. I will have very serious problems with my d3-pawn after ...Ba6 and ...Qg6. For whatever reason I had only considered 15...c5?, which is clearly bad due to 16.b4! b6 (16...cxb4 17.Nb3 b6 18.a3 with initiative) 17.Nb3 Qg6 18.bxc5 Ba6 19.Rf3 bxc5 20.Bxf4+/-.

The solution was provided in this report, which includes some lovely childhood photos.

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   Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768   Caruana, Fabiano 2801
Topalov, Veselin 2772   Aronian, Levon 2805
Round 08 - September 04, 2014
Nakamura, Hikaru 2787   Topalov, Veselin 2772
Aronian, Levon 2805   Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768
Caruana, Fabiano 2801   Carlsen, Magnus 2877
Round 09 - September 05, 2014
Caruana, Fabiano 2801   Nakamura, Hikaru 2787
Carlsen, Magnus 2877   Aronian, Levon 2805
Vachier-Lagrave, M 2768   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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