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    Saturday
    Aug302014

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 4: Caruana is 4-0 (Updated Twice)

    The 2nd Sinquefield Cup still has six rounds remaining, but with only Maxime Vachier-Lagrave even within two points of Fabiano Caruana the prognosis for the rest of the field is getting grim.

    Here's the quick summary of today's action:

    Caruana defeated Levon Aronian, showing that the position after his/his coach's novelty 15.Na2 had its drop of poison. Aronian's view was that he needed to play ...Nc3 (I think on move 20), and while Caruana didn't directly address that he stated that once he played 22.Qh5 Black was in trouble; his assessment appears to be correct. The next exciting moment came a bit later when Caruana sacrificed a piece with 29.Na5 Nxa5 30.Nxe5. Various commentators expressed their surprise and at least mild disapproval, but Caruana's judgment was not only confirmed by the computer and the course of the game, but by the players themselves. The alternative, 29.Nh2, would be met by ...Rf4 once White played Ng4, and the exchange sacrifice would give Black comparatively good chances. So it's another huge win for the American-Italian*, now 4-0 and showing both fantastic preparation and great play after the prep as well.

    The other two games were drawn, but after very different courses. Vachier-Lagrave vs. Hikaru Nakamura was an Archangelsk that was consistently interesting until it suddenly fizzled out to a draw, while Magnus Carlsen's draw with Veselin Topalov was rather strange. Carlsen obtained the sort of position where one would expect him to successfully grind against Topalov, but soon it was clear that Carlsen had overpressed. Topalov's big chance came on move 45. If he had found 45...Rc5 - a move that's well within his ability to spot and requires basically no further calculation - he probably would have won. Unfortunately for him (and for the rest of the field if Carlsen manages to play like his usual self) he missed the opportunity and the game was soon drawn.

    Tomorrow's round finishes the first cycle, and Nakamura will have White against Caruana. Nakamura noted that he has a very good score against Caruana (though Caruana seemed less impressed about it), so he's feeling confident and will be loaded for bear. Will it matter? We'll see!

    Here are the full pairings: Nakamura - Caruana, Aronian - Carlsen, Topalov - Vachier-Lagrave

    One final note, for now: Carlsen (like everyone else) does have bad results and poor stretches every now and then, but I suspect that his battle with FIDE over the world championship match contract is taking something out of him.

    * Please, Mr. Sinquefield, can't you bribe encourage Caruana to come back and represent the United States??

    Update: Here are the games, with my brief(ish) notes.

    Update II: As is clear from my notes, and as mentioned in the comments, my discussion of 45...Rc5 in the Carlsen - Topalov game was mistaken. It would have put some pressure on Carlsen, but there is a way for him to escape with a draw, and despite his apparent concern about it after the game I think it's pretty likely that he'd have found it.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    Caruana is playing like a machine...much like Carlsen at his best, but with more preparation in the openings. It seemed like nearly a perfect game today against Aronian.

    August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMikeO

    IPR's thru 4 rounds---each with huge error bars since the # of analyzed moves is only about 100 for each player. Values rounded to nearest 5.
    Aronian 2645
    Carlsen 2835
    Caruana 2935
    Nakamura 2660 (the game with Topalov was indeed "bad" as Topa said, under 2200 between the players)
    Topalov 2700
    Vachier-Lagrave 2855.

    Whole tournament: 2785, living up to its 2800 billing. Error bars on this, from 629 analyzed moves, are still pretty wide, +- 150.

    August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth Regan

    Carlsen's comments after Maurice Ashley slipped with "Magnus Caruana" are not to be missed.

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTrill

    Your game notes are not quite consistent with the article. Topalov's possible 43...Rc5 is not winning in your notes but a missed win in the article.

    [DM: You are correct, and I meant to mention that in the update. My quick report after the round assumed that the commentators (and Carlsen, and Topalov, and the engine's initial claims) were correct. It was only when I dug in that I realized that their evaluation was hasty.]

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbakayoko

    If Sinquefield wants to spend money to strengthen the US team, he could rather pay the 50,000 Euros compensation fee for Wesley So. So wants to change federations, but without such a compensation fee to the Philippines has to wait for a total of two years and can't play official FIDE events in the meantime.

    [DM: Instead of "rather", how about "also"? :) By the way, is that two years or 50,000 a universal rule, or something that federations can insist on but need not? If I wanted for some reason to switch to the Greek federation, not that I do and not that either the Greeks or the USCF would care, would even a player of my small stature have to wait or fork over 50k euros?]

    We can discuss pros and cons of a compensation fee to the former federation - it was paid in other recent cases (Nisipeanu, Lagno).

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Dennis, compensation depends on rating, see 6.2 here.

    [DM: Thanks, Andrey, and to Clifford and Thomas too for replying on this.]

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrey

    50,000 Euros is only required if a player is a very high rated GM and wants to skip the waiting period between representing Federations. Transfer of, say, a WIM is only 1,000 Euros; even less for an untitled player.
    Until recently, every one was required to sit out the two (or three) years - though that only means you cannot play Olympiads/World Teams and Zonals/World Cups. Now FIDE allows you to buy your way out of the waiting period.
    So So won't be affected much if nobody pays the 50,000 - he will just miss a World Cup and a few teams events for the US.

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClifford

    In reply to Dennis: The rules are here - http://www.fide.com/component/handbook/?id=13&view=category (Article 6). The compensation fee depends on the players' strength (50,000 Euros for Elo 2700+, 30,000 Euros for Elo 2600-2699, ... 2,000 Euros for FM or rated above 2300). "The old Federation may inform FIDE and the new Federation in writing that it waives all or part of any “Compensation Fee” due from the new Federation" - it seems that Germany paid 'something', but less than 30,000 Euros to the Romanian federation for Nisipeanu. And players like me (untitled, Elo below 2300) can change federations for free - but there's still a transfer fee (from 500 Euros for "Others" to 5,000 Euros for GMs) payable to FIDE, plus a notification fee of 250 Euros for anyone.

    The 'rather' referred to the fact that Wesley So wants to change federations, while Caruana has no such intentions (both based on me talking to them behind the scenes in Wijk aan Zee this year).

    [DM: Sinquefield just needs to persuade Caruana! :) I'm sure he can give him tens or hundreds of thousands of good "reasons" to switch back. On another note, while I have a normal ego, I find it absurd that a federation should have to pay 2000 Euros to get me (in under two years). FIDE's greed knows few bounds.]

    August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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