Caruana Streak Continues at Sinquefield, Now 4-0 | Update: VIDEO
Round four of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup produced slightly more solid play from four players, but it was just another day at the office for GM Fabiano Caruana.
By notching the day's only win, he moved to 4-0, increased his lead to two full points, and achieved the fourth-highest rating of all time. That's a full day.
His win today over GM Levon Aronian means he's leaving the former world number two in his distant wake -- Caruana is now 23 points clear of the Armenian number one, who slipped below 2800 today.
If recent history is any indication, the Italian-American has good chances for a six-figure paycheck in a week's time. The two recent major events to produce a 4-0 start -- M-Tel 2008 (GM Vassily Ivanchuk) and Norway 2013 (GM Sergey Karjakin) -- saw the early leaders hold on to win. (GM Alexei Shirov began 5-0 at Wijk aan Zee 2010 and did not win, but that was a 13-round event.)
First prize at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is a cool $100,000.
Today, Caruana again showed his superior preparation, and the importance of his on-site second GM Vladimir Chuchelov, with the novelty 15. Na2. Black got nothing going on the queenside. Even though Aronian controlled the board's only half-open file, it was Caruana who attacked on the other flank.
"Na2 looks like a player from space," Aronian joked.
After the retreat, he still liked Black's position. Aronian was upset with himself for not playing ...Nc3 before White's aggression on the kingside.
"When you don't do the move you are planning and lose the opportunity, you get mad at yourself," Aronian said.
"When I got my queen to h5, I was already much better," Caruana said. He added that his opponents have been playing right into his preparation.
Games via TWIC
Caruana said the piece sacrifice was natural and not hard to find. After 45. Rf6, a very slight smile could be seen on Caruana's face.
For more on his reaction to the game and his thoughts on starting 4-0, see our video:
The buzz in St. Louis is all about Caruana -- so much so that GM Maurice Ashley slipped while ending his post-game interview with GM Magnus Carlsen. Ashley's accidental portmanteau was nonetheless telling: "We were here with World Champion Magnus Caruana."
Carlsen's reponse? "That's high praise."
Going to sleep now. Afraid tomorrow I will wake up in a world where Magnus Carlsen will be called Fabiano Caruana. #FabiForThePresident— Anish Giri ( @anishgiri) August 30, 2014
Speaking to Chess.com, Carlsen added, "He's playing proper chess. He's winning every game and it's not by some kind of fluke. It's really impressive. I cannot even begin to think of catching him. Right now I am not a challenger to anyone."
Carlsen could not inch closer as he again got little to no advantage out of the opening against GM Veselin Topalov. He was particularly displeased with today's effort.
"Today was terrible," Carlsen said. "I just kept missing stuff. I did basically everything that I shouldn't do."
Initially, it looked like Carlsen may even lose thanks to his hapless knight and discoordinated pieces. The winning try 45...Rc5 nearly works, but after the trade of rooks, White can sacrifice for the a-pawn and his own passed pawns are separated just enough to hold the balance.
So who can catch Caruana? The closest is GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2/4), whose draw today with GM Hikaru Nakamura was probably the most solid game of the entire event.
"I wanted to have some safe advantage and see how it would turn out -- you can't play wild games all the time," MVL said.
The two nearly followed the game Ponomariov-Giri, 2013, with Black's pawn on h6 instead of his rook being on b8. The difference proved not terribly consequential and no sizeable advantage was ever obtained by either combatant.
"After yesterday's disaster, I didn't sleep well," Nakamura said. "For me it was important to shut it down today. I'm not upset with today."
Referencing yesterday's loss againt Topalov, he said he had the first 19 moves in his home computer and knew he was better, but misanalyzed the critical sacrifice on f2.
Nakamura's silver lining is that after starting with three Blacks in four games, he now looks forward to four Whites in the final six games. He gets White tomorrow against Caruana.
When asked if he was afraid that Caruana would not allow any excitement and attempt to protect his lead, Nakamura responded, "If chess has gotten to the point where one side can play solid chess and not give anyone opportunities, then I wouldn't be playing it anymore."
@johnchess) August 31, 2014
2014 Sinquefield Cup | Round 4 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|