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

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

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

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  



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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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