In the game we presented yesterday, Baadur Jobava was the hero, defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with some brilliant attacking play. Today we see Jobava in the opposite role, in the role of attacking victim. The game was played in the very next round of the World Rapid Championship, which ended last week, and the winner of the game was tournament runner-up and #1 rated (in rapid) Fabiano Caruana. Caruana's win wasn't as nice as Jobava's in the previous round, but it was attractive nonetheless and worth a look - enjoy!
Entries in Fabiano Caruana (33)
Round 3 of the Norway Chess tournament was eventful, with a lot of movement and excitement at the top. Fabiano Caruana entered and left the round in clear first and with a half point lead, but it could easily have been different - both ways. Early on Magnus Carlsen obtained a serious edge, and later on Caruana had excellent winning chances before the world champion scraped out a draw.
Levon Aronian entered the round in clear second, but blundered in the opening and was lost after just 14 moves. Understandably he continued through to the end of the first time control before giving up, though Alexander Grischuk never gave him a chance to get back into the game. Grischuk now has 2/3, good enough for a tie for second and a career high (live) rating of 2797. Caruana and Grischuk might end this tournament the 7th and 8th players in chess history to obtain official ratings of 2800 or better; right now Caruana is at 2801.7.
Also winning in round 3 and tied for second is Vladimir Kramnik, who defeated Anish Giri with the black pieces. Interestingly, both Kramnik and Nigel Short (in commentary) felt that Kramnik was dominating all the way, with the only real question being whether he could break through or not. The engine completely disagrees and isn't much impressed by either Kramnik's or Giri's play. Fortunately for humankind, the engine isn't in the tournament, and Kramnik's pressure - whether real or only felt - eventually proved too much for the young Dutch player.
Simen Agdestein could have joined the tie for second with a win over Sergey Karjakin, and he played fantastically well through the first time control to put himself on the verge of success. Unfortunately, errors on move 48 and especially 55 allowed Karjakin to survive - barely.
Finally, Peter Svidler and Veselin Topalov rounded out the action with a game that was interesting in its own right, but of less dramatic significance than the other four games. Svidler was able to make some progress in the middlegame; enough to force Topalov to sac a pawn but not quite enough to reach a winning endgame.
The games, with my comments, are here.
Friday is a rest day, and on Saturday the round four pairings are as follows:
- Caruana (2.5) - Giri (1)
- Aronian (1.5) - Svidler (1)
- Agdestein (1.5) - Kramnik (2)
- Karjakin (1) - Grischuk (2)
- Topalov (1) - Carlsen (1.5)
Fabiano Caruano won his second straight game to open the Norway Chess tournament, beating Peter Svidler with what I'm pretty sure was some monster preparation in a Paulsen Sicilian. As he was the only winner in round 1 he remains the sole leader, and as an added bonus he has reached 2800 for the second time in his career. (It wasn't official the first time and it isn't yet official now, but it's still a wonderful milestone.)
He was not the only winner today, though. Alexander Grischuk bounced back from his loss to Caruana by beating Veselin Topalov, finishing the game with a nice shot. Overall Grischuk played very well, but his persistent time trouble almost led to disaster for a second straight day. Had Topalov met 31...d4? with 32.gxf5 Grischuk would have been in trouble; instead, it was Topalov who lost the thread leading up to the time control, and he was punished severely.
The day's other winner was Levon Aronian, who won a typical kind of queenside majority game against Sergey Karjakin. White was always better, and that advantage grew after Karjakin's optimistic decision to push his pawn from a5 to a3. He surely hoped and probably expected to swap off that pawn for White's b-pawn, but what happened instead was that White's newly passed b-pawn became a huge asset, one that ultimately won him the game.
Vladimir Kramnik didn't achieve anything against Magnus Carlsen, and almost managed to become another victim of Carlsen's unparalleled ability to create something out of nothing. Almost, but not quite. Finally, tournament underdog Simen Agdestein drew his second straight game, this time against Anish Giri, but he was fortunate that his mistake on move 16 went unnoticed.
The games, with my comments, are here; round 3 pairings follow:
- Carlsen (1) - Caruana (2) (potentially a huge game for the final standings)
- Grischuk (1) - Aronian (1.5)
- Karjakin (.5) - Agdestein (1)
- Giri (1) - Kramnik (1)
- Svidler (.5) - Topalov (.5)
The four draws were in each case the natural result, as none of the eight players was ever in serious trouble. Magnus Carlsen played a nice exchange sac against Anish Giri, but his pressure and passed c-pawn were only enough to hold the balance. The other Norwegian, Simen Agdestein, played a nice exchange sac against Levon Aronian and even had a little advantage despite the black pieces and a huge rating gap. Vladimir Kramnik had no difficulty in holding on the Black side of an English (a Reversed Sicilian) against Peter Svidler; lastly, Sergey Karjakin forced Veselin Topalov to sweat a bit after the latter's inaccurate and loosening 31...b5, but he was unable to convert it into something concrete.
That leaves the game between Alexander Grischuk and Caruana, and it too was headed for a likely draw. Grischuk is a time trouble addict, however, and by around move 30 both players were down to their last minute. (Apparently Caruana was initially unaware of this!) Caruana was even shorter on time than Grischuk, but it was the latter who threw the game away in a single move, a blunder he probably wouldn't have made with the same amount of time on his clock in a blitz game. His 38.Qa2?? walked into an elementary combination: 38...Rxd3 39.exd3 Rb2, which would net Black an extra piece after 40.Q-anywhere normal 40...Qxf2+ and 41...Qxf3. Grischuk either resigned after 39...Rb2 or lost on time; either way it comes to the same thing. (Games here.)
Round 2 Pairings:
- Aronian - Karjakin
- Kramnik - Carlsen (will Kramnik earn the right to engage in some new trash talk?)
- Caruana - Svidler
- Topalov - Grischuk
- Agdestein - Giri
While Magnus Carlsen has done most of the running in this tournament, it's Fabiano Caruana who has been stealing the show of late. Not only did he defeat Carlsen in the first cycle, he has won back-to-back games the past two rounds to catch up to Carlsen going into their head-to-head in the last round. Carlsen will have White, and if they draw then, unfortunately, Caruana will only come in second on tiebreaks despite winning in their head-to-head. (At least that was what I had heard; I haven't checked the tournament regulations.)
Why "unfortunate", someone may ask (especially strong Carlsen fans)? For two reasons, neither of which is based on an antipathy towards the young Norwegian. First, because I dislike tiebreaks in general. If they can't just be co-winners, then have a rapid or blitz playoff. Second, if one must have tiebreaks, head-to-head should be the first tiebreaker rather than "most wins". What could be more relevant than that, if we're comparing their tournament performances?
Going into round 8 it seemed that Teimour Radjabov was going to be Carlsen's biggest competition, but Caruana managed to beat him in the former's favorite King's Indian. Caruana enjoyed continuing pressure, but it was only a mistake by Radjabov on the very last move of the first time control that did him in. Radjabov had been in serious time trouble, and it ended one move too late for him to survive. Before the game Radjabov had been just half a point behind Carlsen; after it, it was Caruana who took his spot.
In the other games in that round, Carlsen got nothing against Sergei Karjakin and they drew for the second time in the event, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov continued his descent into madness with a second loss against Hikaru Nakamura.
In round 9 Caruana won again, this time over - who else - tournament whipping boy Mamedyarov, while the other two games were drawn. Against Carlsen, Radjabov took a page out of his playbook from the London Candidates', parlaying a slightly better but drawn ending into one where he had to suffer. Carlsen dragged the game past move 100 trying to find something before agreeing to split the point. Carlsen never really came close, but Radjabov's overly compliant approach forced him to spend an extra 2+ hours suffering to achieve what he probably could have had without any sweat. Karjakin and Nakamura drew their game as well, leaving both players (and Radjabov too) a full point behind the leaders.
To summarize then, Carlsen and Caruana are both +2 (5.5/9), Karjakin, Nakamura and Radjabov all have 50% (4.5) while the entirety of the minus score has fallen upon Mamedyarov (2.5 points). Here are the last round pairings:
- Carlsen - Caruana
- Mamedyarov - Karjakin
- Nakamura - Radjabov
The B tournament ended today, and was won by Pavel Eljanov; his score of 6/9 was half a point better than Alexander Motylev's and a point better than that of Wang Hao and early leader Etienne Bacrot.
- Carlsen's Undefeated Streak
- May 17, 2013 - April 22, 2014
If round 3 was a bit irksome for Magnus Carlsen, failing as he did to convert a clearly superior position against Sergey Karjakin, round 4 of the Gashimov Memorial was a flat-out disaster for the world champion. He essayed the Berlin Defense against Fabiano Caruana (come back!!), which in itself may not be foolhardy but is at least dangerous, as Caruana has been in the forefront of White players looking for deep new ideas against the Berlin ending. Carlsen's position was already somewhat unpleasant when he blundered with 24...Kc8??, dropping the c7 pawn for nothing. (Ironically, I just turned on chess24's broadcast at that moment, and in analysis Peter Svidler made the same blunder as well, to Lawrence Trent's surprise.)
Caruana's technique was very good from there up through move 39, but right before the time control Carlsen found a way to create some tactical tricks. Very short of time, Caruana chose a safe 40th move that cost him most of his advantage. Fortunately for Caruana, Carlsen rejected 40...Bc7, which would have let him grovel on a pawn down. Perhaps he felt that it would be hopeless in the long run, and decided to risk a faster loss in a sharper position. With time to work out the details, Caruana finished him off effectively, and thereby caught up with Carlsen in joint first place with 2.5/4.
The day's other games were drawn, and in round 3 the only decisive result was Hikaru Nakamura's victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is currently the only player in the tournament with a minus score. Here are the pairings for round 5, the last round of the first cycle (player scores are in parentheses):
- Mamedyarov (1) - Caruana (2.5)
- Carlsen (2.5) - Radjabov (2)
- Nakamura (2) - Karjakin (2)
Magnus Carlsen had a very bad time of things in the (quick) rapid games on Tuesday, and came close to losing his lead at the Zurich Chess Challenge. Close, but not close enough for Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana to catch him. All three players won their first game - Carlsen over Boris Gelfand, Aronian over Viswanathan Anand and Caruana over Hikaru Nakamura - and it looked like the deal was done. Carlsen enjoyed a two point lead over Aronian and a three point lead on Caruana, with just four games to go.
But then it got interesting. Aronian outplayed Carlsen and won handily to close to within a point. Caruana only drew with Gelfand, so he only closed his gap to two and a half points. In round 3 Carlsen drew with Nakamura, and while Aronian remained a point behind after a draw with Gelfand, Caruana got another half a point closer by defeating Anand. (That was three losses in a row for Anand, incidentally.)
Round 4 was the big chance. Caruana outplayed Carlsen, coming to within a single point of the leader. Had Aronian managed to defeat Nakamura, he would have caught Carlsen in first. Nakamura has been a regular "customer" of his for some time now, but not today. Nakamura won a good game, and so Aronian remained a point behind.
Round 5 was a mere formality. Carlsen had White against Anand, and cynically (but understandably) repeated game 8 of their match pretty much move for move. The players conducted the whole game at blitz tempo, called it a draw, and Carlsen clinched. (I enjoyed Nakamura's disdainful expression as he looked up at the electronic display as this was going on.) Caruana and Aronian played a real game, which also ended in a draw, and thus they finished tied for second, a point behind Carlsen. (Caruana took second on tiebreak.) Here are the full final standings:
1. Carlsen 10 (out of 15 - the classical games were scored double)
2. Caruana 9
3. Aronian 9
4. Nakamura 7.5 (he finished the rapid with a very strong 3.5/4)
5. Anand 5
6. Gelfand 4.5
Maybe. In the latest issue of New In Chess Magazine, there's an interview with Viswanathan Anand shortly after his lost match to Magnus Carlsen. There he tells the interviewer, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, that he intends to play in the upcoming Candidates tournament in March of 2014. Dirk Jan seemed rather unconvinced by this, and now he seems to be leaning against playing (HT: Brian Karen).
If he still has any aspirations to compete again for the world championship, skipping out on this seems like a big mistake. For one thing, qualifying for subsequent Candidates events from scratch is not going to be easy, so he should take the free pass while it's there. Second, he must still have a nice bank of theoretical work from the match that will still be usable. In time it will seep out in tournament and others will catch up, so he should use them while he can.
Suppose then that he does drop out. Apparently Fabiano Caruana (send him back! [or now that he's 21, come home!]) is slated to take his place. I don't know if that's true, but he would be a very reasonable choice. Whatever the case, I hope Anand makes up his mind soon, as this would be an incredible opportunity for Caruana or whoever the replacement is, and they should have as much time as possible to gather a team and prepare.
With two rounds to go this year's edition of the Kings Tournament was a bit of a laugher, with Fabiano Caruana at +3 while the rest of the field had a minus score or - in one case only - an even score. In the penultimate round it could have gone almost to farce, as Caruana had a substantial advantage against Wang Hao. 27.Rd3, 28.gxh5+ and 29.gxh5+ would all have given White great winning chances. The game was complicated, and a bit at a time Caruana's advantage was lost and then the game was, too.
In the last round Wang Hao won again, getting to +1, but by then it was too late for that to matter in the race for first, as Caruana had drawn several hours earlier. (Apparently Teimour Radjabov didn't feel like playing, as he forced a quick draw in the opening with White.) So it was a bumpy end to an otherwise fine tournament for Caruana, and Wang Hao can be reasonably satisfied as well, at least with the finish. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu also has grounds for satisfaction, finishing with an even score despite being the lowest-rated player in the tournament by a fairly substantial margin. (He was outrated by 49 to 105 points by the other competitors.) Radjabov at -1 and Ruslan Ponomariov's at -2 score will be less happy.