"The Streak" Ends, but Caruana Draws Carlsen to Clinch | Update: VIDEOS
So GM Fabiano Caruana is human. He also happens to be a $100,000 richer human.
In the most hyped game of his budding career, Caruana went for the gusto against GM Magnus Carlsen. The game ended drawn, which stops Caruana's winning run at seven, but etches his name as the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
"I'm not disappointed...the result is pretty good," Caruana said in the chess understatement of the year.
Never has a man gained so much while having his performance rating drop nearly 400 points. He moves from the stratosphere (3592) to the troposphere (3273).
Consider: Besides the six-digit payday, he achieved the third-highest live rating in history (2836.1), and is still very much on pace to obliterate the record for best numerical performance in history. He also sealed victory in the strongest-ever tournament by only having to play 80 percent of it.
"Eight-zero was pretty unrealistic," Caruana said. Actually, he was closer than he thought. A few missed chances might have tested the world champion more today.
Games via TWIC.
The game followed Felgaer-Cuenca Jimenez (2013) until move 15, when Caruana moved his queen's knight to b5, not d5. Think that was an obscure game? Well it was also played in Andorra, making it even more remote.
Carlsen didn't sound like he knew of the game. He had planned an early ...Qa5 instead of ...a5 and ...a4. "I saw this idea and I thought, why not go for it?" Carlsen explained.
Despite the chances for more today, even at "just" seven games, Caruana's moment in history is surely the Joe DiMaggio 56-game hitting streak of chess.
Perhaps he will be like DiMaggio and start another one. Joltin' Joe hit safely in 16 consecutive games immediately following.
"Above all I didn't want to lose," Caruana said. "From the opening he gave me a really good position."
He said he would remain focused the final two rounds. "It's important to end on a high note."
Caruana spoke to Chess.com and here's our exclusive video interview:
Carlsen's early-tournament prediction that Caruana would become his main challenger proved true, and in spades. What does the world's highest-rated person think of Caruana's unprecedented event?
Carlsen praised the achievement in the on-air interview. "When Fabiano is playing as well as he is, there's nothing you can do about it," Carlsen said. "I hope it goes for it in the last two rounds to make something really special."
"What he's done here is absolutely incredible," Carlsen said. "But we shouldn't completely forget what's happened the last four years." Carlsen was of course referencing his own successes and world title.
"Even if [Caruana] doesn't show up for the last two rounds, it is one of the great results of our time," Carlsen said.
Many fans were rooting for Caruana to remain unblemished. Perhaps even the host Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis wanted it too -- the catering theme today was -- what else? -- Italian.
All three games in round eight were tied together through a curious element. White played an early g4 thrust in each game.
GM Levon Aronian got the party started, playing g4 about as early as could be expected of a super-GM. His jab came on move 5 and the strong theoretician GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was caught largely unprepared.
He said he'd seen the variation before but was afraid that by capturing, he would be walking into a bear trap. "I should have taken it but I didn't simply on the chance he has prepared something," Vachier-Lagrave said. "Instead I went mad." (Maybe he should watch Sinquefield Cup commentator GM Ben Finegold's video about it!)
"I had many easy wins I was planning to do," Aronian said. The computer engines suggest he made three inaccurate moves in a row from 21-23. "My brain just turned off." It was instead another close escape for Vachier-Lagrave.
Even though 23. Rde1 allowed an immediate tactical simplification, MVL said the win was already not clear at that point. This was similar to the Frenchman's game with Carlsen, where he also suspected he was losing but couldn't isolate the exact winning line.
Aronian spoke with Chess.com about his form and how he could have played better today. Here's the video:
The game was the first to finish, giving MVL plenty of time to get to a television for the Roger Federer-Gael Monfils quaterfinal match at the U.S. Open. The Parisian's favorite player is Federer, "but if he has to lose, I'd rather it be to a Frenchman!"
In the final game to finish, GM Hikaru Nakamura still couldn't get going in his hometown. He dropped his fourth game of the event to GM Veselin Topalov, who is responsible for half of the defeats.
The Bulgarian's bishops eventually stormed over the Berlin Wall, while White's pieces gradually lost coordination.
The win for Topalov shrinks the gap to second-place Carlsen, which is about all that's left to decide in St. Louis.
Chess.com/TV will embed the official commentary at 2 p.m. Central (GMT -6) for every round.
2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 8 Standings
2014 Sinquefield Cup | Schedule & Pairings
|Round 1||27.08.14||14:00 CDT||Round 6||02.09.14||14:00 CDT|
|Round 2||28.08.14||14:00 CDT||Round 7||03.09.14||14:00 CDT|
|Round 3||29.08.14||14:00 CDT||Round 8||04.09.14||14:00 CDT|
|Round 4||30.08.14||14:00 CDT||Round 9||05.09.14||14:00 CDT|
|Round 5||31.08.14||14:00 CDT||Round 10||06.09.14||14:00 CDT|
- Round 7: Touchdown! Caurana Wins Again for 7-0 Score
- Round 6: Caruana Demolishes Topalov, Increases Lead Again
- Rest Day: Fire, Water, Sport During Sinquefield Rest Day
- Round 5: Caruana Completes Perfect First Half at Sinquefield Cup
- Round 4: Caruana Streak Continues at Sinquefield, Now 4-0
- Round 3: Caruana Beats Carlsen, Leads Sinquefield After Round 3
- Round 2: Caruana and Aronian Win Rd. 2 in St. Louis
- Round 1: Caruana Weathers Early Storm at Sinquefield Cup
- Preview: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the World's Strongest Chess Tournament
- Preview: 2800+ Elo for 2nd Sinquefield Cup