Sinquefield 07: "He's not making a mistake"

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/4/2014 – Those were Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's words when describing Fabiano Caruana's play in the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. "I've never seen this. I've never even seen Carlsen play so well." The Italian player severely punished MVL's mistakes and moves to a jaw-dropping 7-0. Carlsen is in "hot pursuit" three points behind him after beating Nakamura. Aronian and Topalov drew their game.

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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 Seven

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

The comparisons have stopped. Caruana's performance is the best streak of wins ever recorded in chess history in a single tournament. Kortschnoj's Wijk Aan Zee start with 8-0 was also good, but the caliber of opponent's was not in the same league.

Carlsen, Magnus 1-0 Nakamura, Hikaru
The American star has not had the best tournament; it seems he has had an unfortunate series of decisions and he has been doubting his own calculation. Today he must have confused the opening as his plan of playing Na6 is well known in that position, but he chose the absolute worst time to play it. Carlsen snagged a pawn, basically asking Nakamura to show him what he had planned.

Carlsen looks back at Caruana's lead. He is three points behind still...

After sinking into a 20+ minute think it was clear that the American did not have a good answer. He succumbed in the endgame eventually but Carlsen's win was completely effortless.

This is Nakamura's eleventh loss to Carlsen, with no victories and many draws.

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 0-1 Caruana, Fabiano
A very strange game. MVL didn't obtain much from the opening, and chances were about equal. However a very hard to understand 14.Qa4? started to leave him in a bad position. His king was somewhat exposed and the way he followed up left it stranded in the center. The continuation Kd2-c3 was not ideal either, and Caruana punished his opponent quickly and severely. MVL simply played as if he had been hypnotized or something.

It's not clear what MVL was thinking at some points of this game

Kasparov asked on Twitter what MVL was hoping to achieve with his moves... and he got a reply!

Ben Finegold explains below why that is not such a dangerous plan.

Caruana has played very sensible chess, something which his opponent's have failed to do

With +35 rating points in this event people are no longer wondering if he is
number two in the world, but how soon he will challenge to be number one...

Topalov, Veselin ½-½ Aronian, Levon
Aronian's choice of opening was quite good. He neutralized Topalov's Catalan initiative quite well and the resulting endgame was clearly equal. Topalov refused a repetition, but in doing so he ended up slightly worse. It is possible that Aronian could have tried to push the issue further with more precise play, but between the way that he is playing here and his health problems it is very likely that he was more than content with a draw.

Topalov pushed just a little too hard and found himself in a worse position

But Aronian wasn't in any mood to try to milk the position

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Annotations provided by GM Ben Finegold 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   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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