Caruana and Aronian Win Rd. 2 in St. Louis | Update: VIDEOS

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 8/28/14, 6:29 PM.

The much-anticipated matchup between GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Magnus Carlsen turned out to be the sideshow in round two of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The two rivals drew, while the other two games produced wide-open positions and two winners.

GM Levon Aronian accepted GM Veselin Topalov's resignation first. A few moves after the pendulum swung to give White the initiative, Topalov blundered further and was left shaking his head.

All graphical images courtesy Eric Mousel and Spectrum Studios.

The game began completely locked, but pawns began shifting files and Topalov's centralized queen invaded after 14...Bxd4! Aronian was forced to sacrifice the exchange, something his opponent is well known for.

GM Levon Aronian, starting much faster than last year.

Critical was Black's 20th. Instead of playing 20...Qb4+ to exchange queens, Topalov retreated and allowed all of White's pent-up energy to be released with 21. d5!

"...Qb4 is really strong," Topalov said. "After ...Qe6, d5, now it's not so easy anymore. It's very messy. I would say White's not worse at all."

All games via TWIC.

"When he's attacking, he's unstoppable," Aronian said of his opponent. "Defending is not his forte."

Update: here's a video with Levon Aronian about the game:

"There's something very wrong with my calculation," Topalov said. "Today was a very good chance for me to get a full point. I collapsed very quickly. The way I played was really terrible."

"It was a lucky escape for sure," Aronian said.

All three games ended before the time control and in under three hours today; last year only one game all tournament ended before the 40th move.


GM Fabiano Caruana continues to make the most of his first event on native soil in eight years. He moved to 2-0 by handing GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave only his third loss of 2014.

Unlike the previous game in this report, he was never in trouble and in fact had most of the critical lines worked out at home. MVL captured a poisoned pawn on b2 and while not lost, it forced him to walk a tightrope for the rest of the game.

"I had 'only moves' 5 or ten moves in a row," he said.

GM Fabiano Caruana's new idea of 15. g4 and 16. f4 had been found a few months ago but saved for today.

"I got caught in the opening," Vachier-Lagrave admitted. "I probably shouldn't have played this line." MVL eschewed his usual Sicilian in favor of the Caro-Kann, explaining he didn't want to be surprised first.

"I was lucky to get my preparation in the opening," Caruana said. "It was a fairly smooth win. He didn't have a chance to show his creativity."

Caruana's perfect start comes up against GM Magnus Carlsen tomorrow.

He spoke to, and a video where he explains more about the game will be embedded here in a few hours.

Update: here it is:


The only non-decisive game today was Nakamura-Carlsen. Before talking about the game, more can be explained about yesterday's report in which Carlsen referred to Nakamura as "inept."

Kaja Snare, the journalist for TV2 who conducted the interview, told that "udugelig" translates most closely as "inept," but in any case, Carlsen reaffirmed to her in St. Louis that he was joking.

The mood here is much more professional. Prior to the commencement of the event, all players had sit-down interviews with commentator WGM Jennifer Shahade.

Carlsen on Nakamura: "He's a strong player and he's had some good positions against me."

Nakamura on Carlsen: "He doesn't tend to have a lot of bad days. It's much more important to not lose to him than to beat him."

In the game, Carlsen countered the Ruy Lopez with the rare Smyslov Variation (3...g6) as opposed to last year's Berlin. Nakamura used the line last year to beat GM Viswanathan Anand. The game thus gives Carlsen's world championship challenger something else to think about.

"Coming out of the opening, I didn't think I was really better," Nakamura said. "I haven't played this line in a while."


Nakamura's eyes were unsheathed today (photo courtesy Lennart Ootes).

Unlike in the first Sinquefield Cup, Nakamura left his Ray-Ban sunglasses at home today (he used them in both matchups against Carlsen last year).

"I have to admit I don't have a countermove to the sunglasses," Carlsen told Shahade in that interview. "If [Nakamura] listens to this, he should really bring the sunglasses out this time."


GM Magnus Calrsen resting before the opening bell.


After the game, Carlsen agreed with the statement that Caruana was becoming his main rival. On the live rating list, Caruana is now 2810, the seventh-highest live rating of all time. If he goes to 3-0 tomorrow, he'll pass GM Vladimir Kramnik's all-time best.

Lastly, FIDE has moved up the deadline for Carlsen to sign the world champion contract (Anand just signed). It is due Tuesday.

Kaja Snare reported to that she asked him (in Norwegian) if he would talk about it. He declined. She then said, "You'll have to talk then," and Carlsen responded, "No, I won't."


TV2 of Norway is hosting a live show and has sent a crew here to St. Louis. Here Kaja Snare asks Carlsen about the world championship deadline.

The intrigue continues -- keep checking these pages for news about the Tuesday deadline. will embed the official commentary at 2 p.m. Central (GMT -6) for every round.

2014 Sinquefield Cup | Schedule & Pairings

Round 1 27.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 6 02.09.14 14:00 CDT
Aronian ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura - Aronian
Topalov 0-1 Caruana   Caruana - Topalov
Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen - Vachier-Lagrave
Round 2 28.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 7 03.09.14 14:00 CDT
Nakamura ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen - Nakamura
Caruana 1-0 Vachier-Lagrave   Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana
Aronian 1-0 Topalov   Topalov - Aronian
Round 3 29.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 8 04.09.14 14:00 CDT
Topalov - Nakamura   Nakamura - Topalov
Vachier-Lagrave - Aronian   Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave
Carlsen - Caruana   Caruana - Carlsen
Round 4 30.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 9 05.09.14 14:00 CDT
Vachier-Lagrave - Nakamura   Caruana - Nakamura
Carlsen - Topalov   Carlsen - Aronian
Caruana - Aronian   Vachier-Lagrave - Topalov
Round 5 31.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 10 06.09.14 14:00 CDT
Nakamura - Caruana   Nakamura - Vachier-Lagrave
Aronian - Carlsen   Topalov - Carlsen
Topalov - Vachier-Lagrave   Aronian - Caruana


2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2801 3570 phpfCo1l0.png       1 1 2.0/2  
2 Aronian,Levon 2805 2970   phpfCo1l0.png ½     1 1.5/2  
3 Nakamura,Hikaru 2787 2841   ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½     1.0/2 1.25
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2877 2778     ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½   1.0/2 0.75
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2768 2649 0     ½ phpfCo1l0.png   0.5/2  
6 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2003 0 0       phpfCo1l0.png 0.0/2  



16885 reads 34 comments
3 votes


  • 2 years ago


    The carlsens prolly keep silent cause its impossible to come up with a plausible explanation that doesn't make him look bad. The bs of concentrating on playing is just that, after all they knew about Sochi for many months and have a team for press releases.

  • 2 years ago


    GM Fabiano Caruana Unstoppable! 

  • 2 years ago


    Great play by Caruana. But let's not get too excited, Italian amici.

  • 2 years ago


    Great coverage, Mike, I was watching you take pictures live and while the players were getting seated, Aronian almost climbed across you back to get to his seat!  Keep up the great work for!

  • 2 years ago



    That's why it's not a rivalry. And that's what I said.

  • 2 years ago

    FM MikeKlein

    I wish we could get a comment from either Magnus or Henrik Carlsen regarding the deadline. Both have chosen not to respond. Didn't want the community to think we haven't tried.

  • 2 years ago


    @ savantz

    Carlsen has been rubbing shoulders (and maybe more than that) with some very big and prominant public, political, and business figures. But you are right, he is still too new and young. And minus the charisma of Garry.....

    As a chess fan, I would be very disappointed in him if he threw away the title rematch all because he is being used and maybe pressured by certain political/business elites to do so? The term "used as a pawn" comes to mind.

    Unless you live under a rock, you should know Russia and Western relations are at an all time low.

  • 2 years ago


    there's a HUGE difference...

    when gary broke from fide, throwing the chess hierarchy into 12-13 years of turmoil and chaos, he had already been world champion for some 8 years and defended this title against karpov (who he had wrested the title from) in titantic struggles, on several occasions. he was established! had proven his heft, consistency, and his place in history. he had credibility and the respect of the other chess professionals and potential sponsors; a network!

    carlsen has none of this AND "balks" at the first defense of his title against the former world champion (anand) from whom he achieved said title.

    at the time gary made his "break", he was truly head and shoulders above all; carlsen is just first among equals (and imo that is up for debate). carlsen lacks "heft", "gravitas"; this he is still yet to prove.

  • 2 years ago


    The deadline is officially still Sunday, but Carlsen gets until Tuesday - a bit like an appointment for 12:00, saying that you are willing to wait one hour before leaving yourself. Then for some reason, initially turned "two days more" into "two days less".

  • 2 years ago


    @kosakarika: it means they have actually given him more time to decide. Hoping he'll come around.

  • 2 years ago


    @KMagik Nakamura has never won a classical game against Carlsen.

    @kosakarika Moving up the deadline seems to be the only way to have a proper world championship this year. The last thing they want is the world's best player to leave and do his own thing...something that happened not too long ago.

  • 2 years ago


    Why such comment about Nakamura VS Carlsen? Americans...  Nakamura is nothing but one chess player between all the others top 20. He is not Carlsen, Aronian or Caruana.

  • 2 years ago


    Bryan_Urizar: "Which chess pieces are those?"

    I heard that they were especially made. They sure are beautiful, far more beautiful than the official FIDE set. 

  • 2 years ago


    Beautiful presentation and excellent interviews -thanks!

  • 2 years ago


    Moving up the deadline seems to indicate they would like Carlsen to forfeit.

  • 2 years ago


    For the last time, there is no Carlsen/Nakamura rivalry. It's not a rivalry if one man beats the other most of the time. It would be rivalry if they went head to head...

  • 2 years ago


    Which chess pieces are those?

  • 2 years ago



    Friday changed to Tuesday - that was a mistake.

  • 2 years ago


    There's a ton of quick white wins in that caro kan line where black takes on b2. A bit surprising to go for it against a theoretical monster like Caruana.

  • 2 years ago


    What's the story about the deadline? The article first says that the deadline is "due Tuesday" (was it edited after Gitananda's comment?). This is in line with quoting Israel Gelfer in the linked article: "The deadline is 31 August 2014. A signature on September 1st or 2nd is tolerable". At the end, a "Friday deadline" is mentioned.

    BTW what about the Wednesday deadline? Players had to commit on the FIDE Grand Prix Series until August 27. If some players declined or didn't reply, FIDE may first contact those on the reserve list. But the opportunity exists to ask players in St. Louis!?

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