"The Streak" Ends, but Caruana Draws Carlsen to Clinch | Update: VIDEOS

"The Streak" Ends, but Caruana Draws Carlsen to Clinch | Update: VIDEOS

MikeKlein
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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).

The usually stoic GM Fabiano Caruana now has 100,000 reasons to smile.

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.

All cameras were trained on history today...
...except for maybe this one!

"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:

GM Magnus Carlsen now looks down at a new chaser.

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.

More impressive -- Caruana's seven-round explosion or Carlsen's 50+ months at number one?

"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.

Carlsen's had a lot to think about this week -- the tournament, a new number two, and the contract for the world championship (photo: Lennart Ootes).

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.

GM Levon Aronian tried to punish the Philidor (photo: Lennart Ootes).

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.

A choatic ride to third position -- only two draws in eight games for the former World Champion Topalov.

The Bulgarian's bishops eventually stormed over the Berlin Wall, while White's pieces gradually lost coordination.

IM Silvio Danailov, Topalov's longtime confidant, arrived at the club today.

The win for Topalov shrinks the gap to second-place Carlsen, which is about all that's left to decide in St. Louis.

Notable players came out to see history today. Teammates GM Ray Robson (left) and GM Wesley So (right) arrived. Here they're being interviewed by Fox Sports Midwest reporter Teryn Schaefer.
Can you spot the nervous coach? GM Vladimir Chuchelov admitted that Caruana's 17. h4 wasn't the safest choice -- "Why not just castle?" Here he is joined by WGM Anna Sharevich (center) and FM Alisa Melekhina.

Chess.com/TV will embed the official commentary at 2 p.m. Central (GMT -6) for every round. 

2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 SB Pts
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2801 3273 phpfCo1l0.png 11 11 1 1 7.5/8
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2877 2830 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½½ 1 ½1 4.5/8
3 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2803 00 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 11 4.0/8
4 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2768 2727 00 ½½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 3.0/8 10.00
5 Aronian,Levon 2805 2703 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ 3.0/8 9.50
6 Nakamura,Hikaru 2787 2619 0 ½0 00 ½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/8

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

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