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Caruana Completes Unbeaten Sinquefield, Carlsen Second

Caruana Completes Unbeaten Sinquefield, Carlsen Second

GM Fabiano Caruana completed his dream tournament at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup with a repetition refusal then quick draw offer.

Unlike GM Magnus Carlsen's draw refusal in the final round of the 2013 edition, much less was riding on Caruana's bravery. He'd already clinched first but was still in search of a performance rating well north of 3000.

"I decided I was getting worse, so I offered a draw as soon as I could," Caruana said about his matchup with GM Levon Aronian. The Sofia Rules were in play, so move 30 was the first opportunity to close the door on a historic event.

GM Fabiano Caruana completes his tour-de-force performance

"I'm very happy about the tournament, except for rounds 8 and 9. Round 9 I'd like to forget," Caruana said, referencing his missed wins against GM Hikaru Nakamura.

Chess.com spoke with Caruana about his place in history and other aspects of his career. Here's the video:

Games via TWIC

Caruana was also asked on-air about two other hot-button issues.

On switching federations: "So far it's just rumors. I'd rather not say too much about that."

On a match with Carlsen: "It's normal there's going to be a lot of hype about this result. Maybe I'll get a match in the future, but you never know."

Even though he shrunk the gap greatly, he still looks up at the world champion's rating as a sort of mystical mark. "Magnus is 2870 or something. I never dreamed of a rating like that. I always wondered how he was able to keep it."

Famed Fischer photographer Harry Benson adds Caruana to his portfolio

Aronian's disappointing tournament came to a merciful end. "I didn't play any good games at all," he said. "It was a disastrous tournament. I know the reasons I've been playing badly but I don't want to share them."

He nonetheless heaped praise on the club mixed with more self-deprecation. "Everybody's doing such great things for the players. I'm not doing much to give back!"

GM Magnus Carlsen's draw was quite different than his final round refusal last year

Meanwhile, the exception to the Sofia Rules was also in play. If two players repeat three times before move 30, the arbiter can allow the draw to stand. That's exactly what happened in GM Veselin Topalov's game with Carlsen.


Both players were fearful of altering their moves, and a draw helped both men in a way. Carlsen was assured of second place, even if his long run of finishing +2 or better ended. Topalov secured third and an even score.

"I was a little bit tired, I couldn't sleep so well," Carlsen said, referencing his missed win versus Aronian yesterday. 

Carlsen didn't agree with the engines that there were plausible alternatives to the game's final moves. "The computer doesn't say so, but computers don't understand anything about the Berlin," he said.

"I was +2 against regular guys, but I lost two to Fabiano. That shouldn't count really!" Topalov joked.

GM Veselin Topalov came back strong after starting with two losses

Still referencing the winner, Topalov said, "He was +7 and without luck. It's very strange really."

Topalov also expressed his pleasure at visiting St. Louis. "Somehow in the chess world, we always go to the same places. It's always nice to open new markets...I think FIDE should do more for chess in the States."

Caruana's autograph was nearly as sought after as Carlsen's

Carlsen and Topalov both spoke with Chess.com about the game and the tournament. Here's the video:

In the final game to finish, GM Hikaru Nakamura was denied his first win of the event. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave held to join Aronian in shared fourth.

Vachier-Lagrave, only using one eye for the final round?
Ghost of Nakamura? A picture of him in shades from the 2013 event reflects at the sports bar next door.

After the tournament ended, a press conference with all the players offered some enlightening and humorous moments (though a question about Carlsen's world champion contract was deferred).

Topalov: "I don't mind retiring, but now I don't see the reason!" He then admitted that memorization of opening lines is a definite advantage to younger players. "The advantage of getting older is that you lose your memory. When you lose, maybe you forget the next day!?"

When a question was asked about getting to the "top of the chess world," Nakamura put on a brave face by opening, "I'll answer that first because I'm not at the top of the chess world!"

Nakamura finished last but didn't forget his humor in the press conference

Caruana was asked about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and if that may have helped him. "I hope that wasn't the reason why!" he said.

The top two of the chess world

This reporter asked the five players who didn't win the tournament to give a single word describing Caruana's performance. In order, they responded:

"Fantastico" -- Nakamura; "Memorable" -- Topalov; "Depressing!" -- Carlsen (met with big laughs); "Ruthless" -- MVL; "Surprising" -- Aronian. I asked Caruana to try his hand at the same game, and he seconded "surprising."

After the press conference ended, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosted an event for the fans. "Who Wants to Be a Chess Millionaire?" offered the grand prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2015 Sinquefield Cup.

Host FM Aviv Friedman (center) and phone-a-friend GM Ben Finegold (right) question a contestant

In the spirit of statistics, here is the 2014 Sinquefield Cup by the numbers:

  • 315,000 - The total prize fund in dollars, a 46 percent increase from 2013
  • 243 - Dollars earned by the winner for every move he made (412 total moves, $100,000 prize)
  • 7 - Consecutive wins to start the event by Caruana
  • 3592 - Caruana's performance rating in those games
  • 0 - Number of games to reach the time control in the first three rounds
  • 1 - Number of games that did not reach the time control in 2013
  • 35 - Rating points gained by Caruana
  • 3 - Norwegian media outlets on site in St. Louis
  • 8297 - Miles traveled by the farthest fan (Mumbai, India)
  • 66 - Rating points gap between #1 and #2 before the tournament began
  • 27 - Gap between #1 and #2 now
  • 8 - Buckets of water poured on four grandmaster heads
  • 10 - Rounds in which Topalov was the first to arrive for the round
  • 0 - Number of Caruana's girlfriends, according to his response on the live show

WGM Jennifer Shahade talked with Caruana's coach, GM Vladimir Chuchelov, who sheepishly admitted that he forgot to congratulate Caruana after his student clinched!

2014 Sinquefield Cup | Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2801 3103 phpfCo1l0.png 11 11 8.5/10
2 Carlsen,Magnus 2877 2822 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½½ ½1 5.5/10
3 Topalov,Veselin 2772 2807 00 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 11 5.0/10
4 Aronian,Levon 2805 2731 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ 4.0/10 19.50
5 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2768 2738 00 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½½ 4.0/10 17.00
6 Nakamura,Hikaru 2787 2658 ½0 00 ½½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png 3.0/10

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 ½-½ Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Topalov   Carlsen ½-½ Aronian
Caruana 1-0 Aronian   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Topalov
Round 5 31.08.14 14:00 CDT   Round 10 06.09.14 14:00 CDT
Nakamura 0-1 Caruana   Nakamura ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Aronian 0-1 Carlsen   Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
Topalov 1-0 Vachier-Lagrave   Aronian ½-½ Caruana 

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