Caruana Beats Carlsen, Leads Sinquefield After Rd. 3 | Update: VIDEOS

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 8/29/14, 6:06 PM.

Is it a perfect start? Mathematically, yes.

GM Fabiano Caruana moved to 3-0 today by beating GM Magnus Carlsen as Black. No other player is within 1.5 points, which is the maximum possible lead after three rounds at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.

"I couldn't hope for better, especially since I was starting with two Blacks," Caruana said.

He now has an even higher live rating (2816) than all but five men in history (passing GM Vladimir Kramnik).

In fact all three games were decisive today, with GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave bouncing back against GM Levon Aronian, and GM Veselin Topalov getting on the board after surviving time trouble against GM Hikaru Nakamura. F-pawns were particularly important, as you'll see below.

Even GM Magnus Carlsen's Norwegian-branded bottles couldn't save him today.

Collectively, the players have now produced six wins in nine games, but that's not the most telling statistic. Not a single game has had both players reach the time control, whereas all but one game got to move 40 in 2013.

Something is in the water, lovers of endgames.

Chief Arbiter Chris Bird joked that he had to reread his contract to make sure he wasn't getting paid by the hour.

Today at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Carlsen sacrificed on f7 early but it was Black who began an onslaught. Just when the worst may have been behind him, he uncharacteristically blundered on move 31.

Games via TWIC.

Carlsen explained that he saw 31...Rd1+ several moves earlier in his analysis. But when 30...Qh5+ appeared on the board, he became unsatisfied with 31. Qh2, and so instead played 31. Nh2, expecting 31...Re5. He simply forgot his earlier analysis.

"I can't really explain it. He just blundered ...Rd1," said Caruana.

The world champion suffers his first-ever loss in St. Louis. He will have to come from behind like last year.

Here's Caruana talking about his win against the world number one:

After the game, Carlsen stayed at the board for a minute with his head down.

Caruana still liked Black after 31. Qh2. His original intent was 31...Qe8 32. Re1 Rh5. He mentioned in the post-mortem that 32...Bf2 is even better (see the above analysis).

GM Fabiano Caruana, unknowingly wearing the same shirt he wore to beat Carlsen as Black at the 2013 Tal Memorial. Photo courtesy Lennart Ootes.
Carlsen said the tournament wasn't over, but conceded, "I have to beat [Caruana] to stop him." The two meet again in round eight. Their lifetime score is now only +1 for Carlsen (five wins to four).
The two players who lost yesterday both bounced back with wins.
Vachier-Lagrave had an inverted game from yesterday. Instead of taking all of his opponents' pawns, he offered them. Aronian bit, but like MVL in round two, paid the price.
"It was a misjudgment, I was very greedy," Aronian said. "Maybe I'll get to consolidate but I never got the chance." Vachier-Lagrave said Black should have given the pawn back.
MVL took many looks at Carlsen-Caruana, sometimes even while his own clock was running.
Aronian added that 13. Qe3 surprised him. He had only considered 13. axb3. 
"So far I'm not playing well, honestly," he said. "Today I just got too excited -- all these [pawn] structure changes."
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, unintentionally showing which pawn he intends to sacrifice first (photo Lennart Ootes).
Here's MVL talking about the game:

On-site announcers GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Ben Finegold correctly predicted only 80 minutes into the round that there would be three decisive games. They were right, but they got one of the winners wrong.
GM Veselin Topalov's "bluff" worked against GM Hikaru Nakamura. 21. Ng5 should have been punished with 21...Bxf2+!
Neither GM Hikaru Nakamura's New York Red Bulls jersey, nor his actual Red Bull, could help today.
"Sometimes it happens that your opponent believes your calculation," Topalov said.
On Ng5: "I was running out of time and I thought I had to make some move," he said. 

Topalov told that 19. e5 was probably the losing move.
"My opponent played more or less the one opening I didn't prepare for," he said.
About the "upset" Carlsen-Caruana, Topalov said: "Number one losing to number two is not a big surprise. The way [Caruana's] playing, he has the world championship strength."
Speaking of the world championship, Carlsen's interview with Norwegian TV proved correct. Yesterday reported that he said he would not have to provide a quote at Tuesday's deadline -- now the deadline has been moved back to after the tournament. will embed the official commentary at 2 p.m. Central (GMT -6) for every round.

2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2801 3605 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 1 3.0/3
2 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2768 2827 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 1.5/3 2.00
3 Aronian,Levon 2805 2776 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/3 1.50
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2877 2665 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 1.25
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2787 2698 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 1.0/3 1.25
6 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2678 0 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/3 1.00

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 1-0 Nakamura   Nakamura - Topalov
Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Aronian   Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave
Carlsen 0-1 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 


28374 reads 58 comments
9 votes


  • 2 years ago


    Fantastic tournament--very exciting and Caruana is amazing, really on track for a run at the world championship. He is really coming into his own.

  • 2 years ago


    This might be the kind of "wake-up" that Magnus needs to shake off all of the peripheral issues of his newfound fame and fortune. "It is not enough to be a good player, one must also play well."

  • 2 years ago


    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."

  • 2 years ago


    Great stuff! Fabiano is such a nice person and a sharp chessplayer.Hope there are many battles to come between him and Magnus!

  • 2 years ago


    What an excellent tournament. When there are boring torunaments with GM draws made as soon as theory ends, and people ask, "well what do you expect?", I can now say, " I expect play to be at the same combativeness as the Sinquefield Cup". 

  • 2 years ago


    @MikeKlein: I know what "to essay" means. My only point was that it sounded stodgy already in the 1940s and 1950s when Chernev and Reinfeld used it (and, sorry, but they only used it in reference to moves played, not variations considered and rejected) and that it shouldn't be revived. But I realize no one else has to share my pet peeves (another of which is "annex" instead of "win," e.g. a pawn, which I've sadly heard Seirawan using).

    I certainly never questioned your reporting -- you're doing a great job!



  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    2014 Sinquefield Cup playlist:

  • 2 years ago


    @LaarEe91: I would say that Caruana's performance is decent.

    @savantz: Agdestein really asked to postpone the signing of the contracts until 17 September? Why not a bit later, like in October, I wonder? After all, the match does not start until early November.

    It would have more suspense for everyone, sponsors and fans, not to know who is playing in that match.

    Especially for Anand: "Hey, Anand, prepare for the match you are playing next month. To help you, I will tell you that you will play Carlsen or Karjakin."

    Ever better for Karjakin: "Hey, Sergey, you might play for the World Championship next month, but then again you might not. It will all clear up one morning when Magnus the Great will wake up having made up his mind, does he want the World Champion's title or not?". Keep Karjakin on his toes.

  • 2 years ago


    What a treat! You know it is the strongest tournament ever when you have only three games and they are losses by Carlsen, Aronian, and Nakamura. Nobody is safe! Nobody.

  • 2 years ago


    Team Carlsen trying to postpone the WCC is a dirty tactical move having certain objectives...Firstly Carlsen is not ready and wants to be in top form before playing. (His performance at the Sinquefield cup cleary proves that).

    Secondly even if he has to play at the specified date he wants to keep Anand in doubt for as long as he can by creating confusion in a hope to break Anand's preparation momentum.

    Now lets assume that FIDE postpones the WCC date...What is the guarantee that Carlsen will sign and play then..

    So Carlsen stop making excuses, be brave and sign the players contract or leave chess..

  • 2 years ago


    Carlsen had better start acting like a World Champion and begin playing 1.d4 and 2.c4 with white. This Bishop's Opening crap is just, well, crap.

  • 2 years ago


    For now, Carslen is losing but he has more endurance than anyone else. Expect gameplay to fall by everyone else but Magnus.

    Although inwardly I hope Carauna can keep his lead and win the tournament

  • 2 years ago


    Carlsen just don't care much about chess...otherwise he'll be unstoppable. Like Aronian said once, he has no respect for chess, that's why he's not dominating Caruana or Giri, and others, he has the skill but not the will, Kasparov and Fischer had both!!!

  • 2 years ago


    Its easy to fall pray to the "extrapolation bias". Carlsen lost to Caruana, so did Kasparov lose to Karpov, Kramnik, Anand, Topalov etc. The data is just too small to form a basis of a trend.

    As GM Gomally said, he is sitting on his laurels a little bit (it comes with success) and needs to work a lot harder now that the bar has been set.

    "Success is the biggest cause of slackness" (Garry Kasparov)

    Its a good lesson for him to get his behind fried once in a while, it will motivate him to work harder. But this is hardly enough data to form any firm conclusion. There is still at least 18yrs of chess left in him. Last time I checked he is still the most successful tournament player since Fischer.

  • 2 years ago


    GM thegormacle "For Carlsen to be compared with Fischer and Kasparov he needs to dominate players of his own generation, not just those much older than him like Anand and Kramnik. The evidence so far suggests that he is struggling to dominate the slightly younger Caruana and the younger still Giri.

    The other problem that Carlsen has is his openings completely lack bite. "


    This isn't another problem, it's the cause of the problem.

  • 2 years ago


    Wow, nakamura missed the tactic! Still, all 3 game were great.

  • 2 years ago


    Update: Carlsen's manager Agdestein told VG that the 7 September date is “not very helpful” as now “[Magnus] has to think about this the whole tournament.” Agdestein also stated that they had in fact asked for 17 September.

    who is the carlsen camp blaming for 'that' predicament!!!

    the word "mirror" comes to mind.

  • 2 years ago


    thegormacle: You make some very good points.

  • 2 years ago


    caruana is scary good!

    great reporting 'mike'... you should be point man on these big events

    side note: next time use the word "assay" / "assayed", and no one can argue it

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