Caruana and Aronian Win Rd. 2 in St. Louis | Update: VIDEOS
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.
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.
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."
"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.
"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 Chess.com, 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 Chess.com 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."
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 Chess.com 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.
Chess.com/TV 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|
|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|
2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 2 Standings