Carlsen Wins, Takes First Sinquefield Cup

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 9/15/13, 4:36 PM.

GM Magnus Carlsen only needed a draw to clinch the first Sinquefield Cup and the winner's $70,000 payday. He was offered one, and declined.

Carlsen eventually won against GM Levon Aronian, securing the world number one a plus three score and grabbing the cup by a full point.


"When I finally had the better position, I wanted to use it," he explained of his decision to keep playing on his 38th move. Prior to his opponent's offer, Aronian had Carlsen's pieces in a knot. They began to unravel, and Carlsen sensed the initiative was finally his. He did not see much risk in going for glory.


American GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky had drawn earlier, so Carlsen knew that a draw or win ensured tournament victory. Had Aronian found a way to convert his earlier advantage, the Armenian grandmaster would have forced a three-way playoff.


He wanted nothing more than to create that chaos. "I had a big advantage and then I played like an idiot," a despondent Aronian said. "I played all the wrong ideas. I felt like I had to win immediately."

Carlsen guessed that Black missed the strength of White's 31st move, and Aronian confirmed that he had. "I just blundered Ne1 and I started playing ridiculous moves," Aronian said. "Losing that position is embarassing."

Nakamura's help from Aronian never came, but he was not afforded the luxury of focusing on the other game. "I would have liked to have paid attention [to Carlsen-Aronian], but considering how quickly my game got out of hand, I didn't really have a chance," Nakamura said.


He tried everything to complicate the position as Black, and although he opened lines everywhere, Nakamura was not significantly better at any point.

Overall, the top American player was pleased with his result. "Any time you pick up rating points, generally it's a good result overall," he said.

Carlsen's $70,000 payday will be his last tournament winnings before the World Championship Match with GM Viswanathan Anand in November. "I don't have too many worries," he said about his study plans.

He also moved his rating north to 2870 - two points from his record high. Nakamura wins $50,000 for second place and is currently fifth on the live rating list. Aronian takes home $30,000 for third and Kamsky $20,000 for fourth.

Club founder and tournament sponsor Rex Sinquefield thanked the players at the closing ceremony.


The host Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis also announced its intention of hosting the second edition of the Sinquefield Cup next year. Carlsen said that he wants to return if his schedule permits.

After being overrun with autograph requests (in what has become a daily routine), Carlsen had finished his business and took a walk with his father.


"The final margin of victory is a little flattering," Carlsen said.


31986 reads 92 comments
9 votes


  • 3 years ago


    as a mere hacker can someone explain why 31.ne1 is  such a strong move?

  • 3 years ago


    @TheMagicianPaul, if all GMs took draws in positions that were technically equal after the opening, almost all of their games would end in draws. Carlsen brings life to the chess world specifically because of his ability to find a way to win in these positions. This renewed my personal interest a great deal, to find that even a seemingly 'simple' endgame position can be won by the player who has better skill, concentration, and determination -- even at the very highest (human) levels of the game. This is IMO the right understanding of chess in the post-Deep Blue era, in which we don't play to be perfect (because that is the province of engines now), but we play to win.

    P.S. I'm fairly sure that Carlsen has great respect for Aronian. But this is a sport, and respect shouldn't get in the way of playing for a win, or else you have polite banality instead of true competition.

  • 3 years ago


    I've played through Carlsen-Aronian a number of times, and still have a very hard time understanding how Carlsen won! For example, can anyone tell me intuitively what is wrong with Aronian's position after 50...Kd8? Of course Carlsen can get his pawn back on the a-file, but at that point material is just equal, so where does the win come from? Why does Aronian hang his knight on c6? Are Carlsen's pieces just so much better-coordinated at that point? In any case, Carlsen seems to be exploiting an advantage that it marvelously subtle, so my hat is off to him!

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen is chess god.

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen should have accepted the draw and walked away with the 1st place, but no he declines trying to show Aronian that he has no respect for him. I mean really, this dude only cares about his rating...

  • 3 years ago


    Interesting that no one over 45 made the list of the top 45 players.

  • 3 years ago


    The world championship (WC) would be tough for Anand.  Seeing Magnus squeezing a draw against Aronian in a dead-lock position is of a great concern.  Imagine this, no easy draw in the WC and everyday is a battle. Being young and full of energy would be a factor.

  • 3 years ago


    first off all a big thank you to for the live commentary. I only saw up to Re2 and all the commentators had Aronian winning, and they too missed the strength of Ne1. Incredible to come back and find out by move 50 it was all over!  Says a lot when the #2 of the world leaves a tournament game with the comment "Losing that position is embarassing."   Ananad all I can say is best of luck you will need it.  

  • 3 years ago


    @Melchizedek10 said:

    Magnus may be a little weaker than others super GM in the openings phrases, but his middle and endgame are top level...and with his inner strength, youth, and strong spirit make him such a monstrous titan as he is in the world of chess...No doubt this will be Anand toughest test to date...He will have to pull out all that he known and past experiences if he want to beat Magnus...Clash of the two Titan..can't wait!! :))

    Sometimes when a mantra is repeated oft enough it begins to get a life of its own. I have heard this so many times and I refuse to believe its that simple. Carlsen somehow forgot to do his opening homework while the others burn the mid-night oil cramming openings. They said the same thing about Capablanca, Tal and Fischer. I doubt things are that simple. The chess game begins as a simple position and gets exponentially complex by 10moves (billions of times more complex).

    I think Carlsen plays equal openings (any well read 1800 player can play equal openings to a GM), its the middle game where the structures get complex enough for the GM to coax you into a structural error because your skill and understanding is much less. Same thing with Carlsen. Apparently Aronian (and all the commentators) didn't understand the strength of 31. Ne1, well thats all it takes.

    Aronian said "I had a big advantage and then messed it up"..."I played the wrong ideas"... Well Carslen didn't think so and knew that Aronians apparent advantage would be unravelled with correct play. An advantage isn't one if you can't take "advantage" of it. So basically Aronian didn't have a big advantage he thought he had because he couldn't find the right moves.

    To summarize, to say that GMs get an advantage out of openings with Carslen who then magically turns this around in the middle game is a fallacy. But such statements are simple and catchy and journalists love sound bites. The truth is much more complex and nuanced than this and doesn't make good folklore.

  • 3 years ago


    it was a successful tourney, good games for the competitors and a big congrats for the overall winner sgm carlsen!

  • 3 years ago


    Love the picture of Carlsen walking away with his daddy...

  • 3 years ago


    It was a shame that with a prize fund of $170,000 the tournament was only a four players tournament. 

    Please someone provide the prize fund of the Tata Steel, London Chess Classic, and some of the other Elite Tournaments in Europe.  

    As good as I can remember the Sinquefield Cup $170,000 prize is bigger than many of the Elite Tournaments played in Europe.

    It should have been at least eight players, four players of the American Continent, for example: Nakamura, Kamsky, Dominguez and some young player with promising future (Maybe this guy who played the 2013 US Open Championship against Kamsky). And four players from all the other continents, for example: Carlsen, Aronian, and two more from the 2700+ elite group.

  • 3 years ago


    Magnus is a BEAST on either side in the Ruy Lopez.  

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen's FIGHTING WILL to continue playing (just like 99.9% of chess players) while there are plenty of pieces on the board and therefore plenty of opportunities for the opponent to blunder or simply not being able to find a good plan to improve his position or maintain the existing "equal" position is what places Carlsen as #1 ranked player in the world.  

    Only GM agreed to draws when there are plenty of chess pieces on the board, the rest of chess players (99.9%) keep playing until there is absolutely no chances to change the final result of the game.

  • 3 years ago


    Magnus may be a little weaker than others super GM in the openings phrases, but his middle and endgame are top level...and with his inner strength, youth, and strong spirit make him such a monstrous titan as he is in the world of chess...No doubt this will be Anand toughest test to date...He will have to pull out all that he known and past experiences if he want to beat Magnus...Clash of the two Titan..can't wait!! :))

  • 3 years ago


    @ChessDave89 Me too, that'll be a fight to behold!

    @keyvann Wow, Carlsen is the world's only 2,800 GM now!

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen is a true fighter. Take a lesson from him, GM Eljanov and GM So.

  • 3 years ago


    Highly admirable of Carlsen to play on! 


  • 3 years ago


    It was interesting to see the different attitudes of the commentators and the players with regard to Carlsen declining the draw offer. Aronian agreed that Carlsen had the easier game and that he made the correct decision according to the position, as did Carlsen, while the commentators thought it was dead even and couldn't believe that Carlsen would decline the draw. When pressed on whether Carlsen was risking a loss (and thus a 3-way playoff that might see him not take first place and the $70,000 first prize), Aronian said "We're not really playing for money here, we're playing chess".

  • 3 years ago


    I don't understand Aronian's 54...b3. Couldn't he have saved his knight?

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