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.


Topics: Sinquefield Cup

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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Omoplata Omoplata 9/5/2014 12:44
PAT P, if you think about it, Carlsen was world number one at 19, about 3 years younger than Caruana is now. That's not to take anything away from Caruana but Carlsen's achievements shouldn't be underestimated. I agree it's great that Carlsen has a serious challenger for the world's best player now and the new generation are clearly dominating the chess world now. As far as the world championship goes, if the past is anything to go by we will have random players from the top 50 in world championship matches and the real world champions battling with stupid politics.
PAT P PAT P 9/5/2014 12:57
I am happy to see Carlsen's domination is being challenged by Caruana. He is younger to Carlsen by an year or two. So naturally he is little behind in ranking and is slowly catching up with Carlsen. The future of chess looks great with these two vying for World Championship. I hope Caruana moves quickly and hires Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand to help him win World Championship.
Sampru Sampru 9/4/2014 09:12
Skata, indeed, the existing performance rating formula is flawed. What it should reflect is the rating (actually, a range of ratings) needed for such a performance to be expected. Such a formula would be much more difficult to calculate by hand than the existing one, but it's easy for computers.

The range would be ¼-point above and below the player's actual score. Thus, after Caruana's first six games, the range would be 5¾ and up.

The rating a player would need to expect on average a 5.75/6 score against Caruana's first six opponents is 3346. For 6.75 against his first 7 opponents, this rises to 3369. Thus Caruana's performance after 7 games is that of a player rated at least 3369.

Unlike the existing one, this performance rating system never penalizes a player for a win.
Robert Fowler Robert Fowler 9/4/2014 08:53
Incredible performance!
Camembert Camembert 9/4/2014 08:37
I fear that Carlsen had some problems with his girl friend. He is not in the game !
"Woman's work is never done" as goes the saying !
Camembert Camembert 9/4/2014 07:10
@vandal, Well, he was a Trafalgar or Dien Bien Phu "warrior"...
Camembert Camembert 9/4/2014 07:09
Where can we see the press conference following the game MVL-Caruana ? Thanks for the URL
vandal vandal 9/4/2014 05:06
keep it cool Maxime and don't be afraid if chess is a war you must be a warrior:)
Najdork Najdork 9/4/2014 04:56
"Caruana has played very sensible chess, something which his opponent's have failed to do"

Lol we are all so good with computer analysis backing us up eh?

So Caruana is just playing "sensible" chess, and the other top 10 players in the world are not even playing "sensibly".

For your next article try not looking at ANY computer analysis and let's see how much of the positions you really understand.
Omoplata Omoplata 9/4/2014 02:16
This has got to be the best performance ever in a tournament. For the last few days I've not believed my eyes checking the games and finding out he won yet again. Even more amazing is how he's wiped his opponents off the board in the last couple of games. There have only been one or two 3000+ performances as far as I'm aware (Nanjing 2009 by Carlsen for example), and at this rate Caruana could set a record that may never be broken, especially if he can avoid any losses in the last three rounds.

It would be extremely naïve to write Carlsen off as some people seem to be doing (generally speaking I mean - obviously this tournament is already decided); he still has a 2800+ performance rating despite all the crap going on with threats from FIDE to strip his title, so the fact he can even play near to his usual level under those conditions demonstrates his mental strength.

It's great that Caruana has risen yet another level though and now Carlsen will have all the more motivation to push his game even further, and we could see the two players fighting it out for years for the number one spot (unless yet another player comes along).
firestorm firestorm 9/4/2014 01:38
Nope, he meant Carlsen because after all, before this tournament, Carlsen was really the man to beat in tournaments and has an excellent record of being able to win.
zugzy zugzy 9/4/2014 01:35
in the headline here you typed that MVL had said- "I've never seen this. I've never even seen Carlsen play so well."
didn't he actually mean Caruana not Carlsen?
Wallace Howard Wallace Howard 9/4/2014 01:33
Really looking forward to round 8.
World #1 vs. #2, and "the streak" on the line. Can Magnus stop the train??
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 9/4/2014 12:26
Fabium IV
dunican dunican 9/4/2014 12:15
@il costa: yes, it is correct but the point was that it shouldn't be like that. In my view, RP should express something like "what rating would a given player have, if he played all the time like now at this tournament." Then RP should increase with every win. That would make more sense to me.
Jrcasablanca Jrcasablanca 9/4/2014 11:12
Does anyone find it interesting that his Blitz rating is so much lower than his classical rating?

Almost all the other best players of classical were also the top or nearly top blitz players, except for maybe Topalov.
dhochee dhochee 9/4/2014 11:06
@skata: Yes, as I learned after getting corrected here earlier in these comments, the performance rating formula doesn't take into account the number of games played. It's merely based on the average rating of the opponent and the winning percentage, so his performance rating would be the same at 5/5 as it would at 10/10, even though the latter is obviously a much greater accomplishment.

I know they intentionally kept it simple, but I agree the formula should be improved. Ideally, it would result in the rating closest to the opponent average which would predict the observed result using the standard ELO formula. Given that, Caruana's performance would be 3365 up to this point, which is still phenomenal.
il costa il costa 9/4/2014 10:40
@skata: meeting MVL actually lowered the average elo of the field FC met, therefore the 100% of points is expected by a lower rating than before
skata skata 9/4/2014 09:55
So, after round 6 Caruana's perfection was 3596,
in round 7 he beats another SuperGM and his perfection DROPS to 3592?

There is definitely something that needs to be corrected with this formulas...
iSeeThis iSeeThis 9/4/2014 09:38
Carlsen will try his very best in his chess life tomorrow! It's psycholigical game. If he lose then confidence damaged too much. He knows it.
BIMAL BIMAL 9/4/2014 09:38
Fabiano has actually won the tournament with three rounds to spare!!
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