After weeks of drama and delay, Magnus Carlsen was facing a deadline - today: sign the contract for the world championship match against Viswanathan Anand, slated to begin in two months in Sochi, Russia, or be forfeited and replaced. Carlsen signed.
Entries in Magnus Carlsen (116)
The Sinquefield Cup is winding down and the players are perhaps starting to run out of gas. Fabiano Caruana played 38 very good moves against Hikaru Nakamura on the white side of a Berlin ending and had him at death's door. Fatigue and moderate time trouble struck, and he made an inaccuracy on move 39 and a big oversight on move 40. Even after the time control he still had some winning chances, but he failed to make anything of them and Nakamura drew comfortably by the end.
Likewise, Magnus Carlsen seemed to be grinding his way to a win against Levon Aronian, but shortly before cashing in he saw the right idea but talked himself into a different move (or at least a different move order), one which didn't work. Aronian escaped.
Veselin Topalov could have caught up with Carlsen in second place with a win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but although he obtained an advantage with Black he couldn't turn it into a win, so he remains in clear third.
The tournament ends tomorrow (though there will be some other events following it), and these are the pairings: Aronian - Caruana, Topalov - Carlsen, Nakamura - Vachier-Lagrave.
The "impossible" continues to be not only possible but actual at the Sinquefield Cup, as Fabiano wins yet again. With his second victory over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the tournament Caruana improves to 7-0, guaranteeing himself at least a tie for first in the tournament. (In case there is a tie, there will be a playoff.) Caruana played the solid Queen's Gambit Declined, but Vachier-Lagrave was ambitious (as he should be with the white pieces). Unfortunately, his accuracy didn't live up to his ambition, and the strange 14.Qa4 led to all kinds of trouble. Soon he was a pawn down with a vagabond king, and Caruanaadministered yet another drubbing of a top-10 opponent. Incredible.
Nevertheless, a glimmer of suspense remains in the tournament, as Magnus Carlsen still has a tiny chance to end the tournament equal with Caruana. Today he did what he needed to do against his regular customer, Hikaru Nakamura. (Their cassical score, excluding draws, is now 11-0 for Carlsen.) Nakamura played a Slav line he has used before, but goofed something up very early and was almost losing after 11 moves. Carlsen had a very easy time of it, and with 4/7 and Caruana on tap for tomorrow he can still fight for first, or at least to make it a good tournament. Caruana will have the white pieces, and has remained level-headed throughout the tournament, so chances are he won't implode out of dizziness.
The third game, between Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian, was drawn.
The games, with my notes to the first two, are here. Tomorrow's pairings are Nakamura (2) - Topalov (3), Aronian (2.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (2.5), and Caruana (4) - Carlsen (7).
Prior to this round Fabiano Caruana was 0-3 against Hikaru Nakamura in decisive games played with a classical time control, but that didn't stop the golden boy of the Sinquefield Cup. He outplayed his opponent with the black pieces, and while he could have won a little more easily it was still a convincing victory overall, and he now enjoys a remarkable 5-0 score at the halfway point.
Two other players won today, and share second place. Magnus Carlsen slowly ground out a win in a rook ending against Levon Aronian (winning, like Caruana, with Black) while Veselin Topalov won on the white side of a Najdorf against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Both players looked very good in winning, and as both Carlsen and Topalov are very dangerous once their confidence levels go up it's too soon to hand first prize to Caruana. On the other hand, Caruana will have White against both players in the second cycle, making it that much more difficult for them to catch up.
This is especially so with tomorrow's rest day, which might serve to break Caruana's rhythm a bit. So far, however, this is one of the great starts in tournament chess history, going 5-0 against the world's #1 and #2 (former #2 now) and three other players in the top ten.
Round 6 pairings (Tuesday): Nakamura (1.5) - Aronian (1.5), Caruana (5) - Topalov (2.5), Carlsen (2.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (2)
UPDATE: Games here. I've annotated Nakamura-Caruana in some detail and offered a brief explanatory note at the end of Topalov vs. Vachier-Lagrave.
Here. (HT: Marc Beishon) Not much if any new information there, but his opinion that Magnus Carlsen's potential abdication is a lose-lose for both sides seems to me spot on.
It still isn't as long a delay as Magnus Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein wants, as it coincides with the duration of the Sinquefield Cup and must therefore weigh on him and take his attentional resources, but it at least gives him another week to decide. More here. (HT: Thomas Richter)
Will Magnus Carlsen sign his contract for the world championship match slated to begin in Sochi on November 7? He has until September 7, the final day of the Sinquefield Cup (which starts tomorrow/today/Wednesday) to do so. This article offers a good summary of where things stand, and notes that it Carlsen doesn't play there will be a world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Sergei Karjakin. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
The opening ceremonies and such begin tomorrow (Tuesday), but the real action begins on Wednesday. It's a double round-robin with six great players:
- Magnus Carlsen
- Levon Aronian
- Fabiano Caruana
- Hikaru Nakamura
- Veselin Topalov
- Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
The average rating is over 2800! More info about the Sinquefield Cup here.
This doesn't look good. Magnus Carlsen is understandably concerned about the situation with Russia and Ukraine, and is also not sure who exactly is supplying the money for his coming world championhip match, scheduled to begin November 7. Accordingly, he has requested a postponement (not a change of venue), but the request has been turned down. Also, speaking of money, the prize fund may be reduced to half of what it was in the last few matches. (Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's latest term is off to a great start, isn't it? Don't worry, there will be a new FIDE president someday - he can't live forever. Ah, I know! Garry Kasparov can start his own rival organization! Oh wait, that already happened in 1993. Anyone have a plan C?) Let's hope this gets resolved quickly.