Zurich: Caruana Wins The Rapid, Carlsen Overall Winner

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 2/4/14, 10:53 AM.

As expected, world # 1 Magnus Carlsen won the Zurich Chess Challenge on Tuesday ahead of world #2 Levon Aronian. The rapid section didn't go so well for the World Champ, who scored only 2.0/5. Aronian finished on 3.0/5, but still a full point behind Carlsen in the overall standings. Fabiano Caruana played really well in the rapids today and won the event with 4.0/5 and a 3042 performance, while Vishy Anand ended last, with a disappointing 1.0/5.

The traditionalists were regretting the fact that only five rounds of “real chess” were played in Zurich, but most of the chess fans enjoyed another good day of excitement with, this time, fast chess. At a time control of 15 minutes + 10 seconds increment (“far more relaxing than the real deal 25-minute rapid games” - Aronian), the players faced each other for another five rounds, with reversed colors.

This extremely strong, one-day event started promising: the first round immediately saw three decisive games! Against Magnus Carlsen, Boris Gelfand missed a little trick in the opening, then decided to give an exchange but never got serious compensation:

Levon Aronian played the Czech Benoni, typically something he'd only play in a rapid game, and beat Vishy Anand with it. The Indian got a very promising position (Aronian: “I was very lucky”) but somehow White's attack didn't crash through, Black got a majestic knight on e5 and then he decided matters on the queenside.

A “real” Benoni was seen in Caruana-Nakamura and this time it was Black who got completely outplayed. 17.Nf5! was a nice shot, and an original way to get the knight to c4!

The second round saw the clash between the two 2800s (well, not in rapid ratings where Aronian is below 2800 but who pays attention to rapid ratings?). The World Champ went down in a Closed Catalan where he quickly lost an exchange. White's maneuver 14.Qb3 and 15.Qa3 were nice, playing against the knight.

Caruana continued with a draw against Gelfand, while Anand lost again. Just like in London in December, Nakamura decided to give Bent Larsen's 1.b3 a go, and before the game had really started, Anand dropped material - as early as move 12.

The day before he said “I'm looking forward to some good games,” but it wasn't meant to be. Anand had a really disastrous start as he also lost in the third round, to Caruana. It must be noted that the Italian played an excellent game, with machine-like precision and calculation.

Carlsen got a big advantage in an ending against Nakamura, but couldn't win as the American showed superb defensive skills:

Anand got his first half point in the leader board by drawing with Gelfand. In that penultimate round, the Caruana-express just kept on rolling and even the World Champion had to step aside. It seems like Carlsen simply made a calculation error, and at the end he just blundered.

Aronian couldn't keep up with Caruana; the Armenian lost to Nakamura, who again played 1.b3. Black played one of the most solid setups possible, with ...d5 and ...Bf5, but as Jobava showed last month in Wijk aan Zee, White can still play creatively with an early g4. What followed was an amazing series of tactics (that even the traditionalists could enjoy!) and so this encounter was clearly the game of the day.

Nakamura also won in the last round and so he finished just behind Caruana, who scored a superb 4.0/5.

A truly remarkable game was the one between Carlsen and Anand. The Norwegian only needed a draw to secure overall tournament victory and duly copied one of the draws from the match in Chennai!

The points scored in this rapid event were added to the points from the classical games (which counted double), and this meant that Carlsen won the tournament with 10 points out of 10 games (and out of a possible 15 points). Thanks to the rapid section, Caruana caught Aronian and both finished on 9 points. Nakamura got 7.5, Anand 5 and Gelfand 4.5.

At a final press conference, Carlsen said about his disappointing score on the last day: “I was not feeling so great today. I was outplayed by Levon, I was outplayed by Fabiano. Fortunately I had enough of a lead to win, but it would have been nicer to finish the tournament on a good note. I've felt in other tournaments that when I play well, and then I play badly in the last couple of rounds, it always leaves kind of a bad after-taste. But nevertheless I cannot complain too much.”

Aronian cannot complain either. Both in Wijk aan Zee and in Zurich he showed some very good chess, and this level of play might just be enough to win the Candidates’ tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk next month. But when Yannick Pelletier asked him about his preparation, the Armenian said: “The Candidates and like any match that you play, it's just a different level of preparation. I'm afraid my level of preparation currently will not suffice.”

It seems that if the Armenian can keep his relaxed mood, he can do very well in March. “I'm happy with what's happening. I think I'm playing some decent games but we'll see. It's going to be fun. I love playing in Khanty-Mansiysk so I look forward to it!”

At the press conference Anastasiya Karlovich asked about Nakamura's remark in a recent interview that he might be Carlsen's “biggest threat”. The World Champion reacted: “Hikaru has his opinions about his strength, my strength... I have mine. To be fair he outplayed me in the classical chess this time so there might be something to it, I don't know.”

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 | Rapid Results

Round 1 Round 2
Gelfand 0-1 Carlsen Caruana ½-½ Gelfand
Anand 0-1 Aronian Nakamura 1-0 Anand
Caruana 1-0 Nakamura Aronian 1-0 Carlsen
Round 3 Round 4
Gelfand ½-½ Aronian Anand ½-½ Gelfand
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura Caruana 1-0 Carlsen
Anand 0-1 Caruana Nakamura 1-0 Aronian
Round 5 Round 5
Gelfand 0-1 Nakamura
Aronian ½-½ Caruana
Carlsen ½-½ Anand

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 | Rapid, Final Standings

# Name Rtg TPR 1 2 3 4 5 6


1 Caruana,Fabiano 2781 3042 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 4.0/5
2 Nakamura,Hikaru 2776 2949 0 1 ½ 1 1 3.5/5
3 Aronian,Levon 2826 2863 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 3.0/5
4 Carlsen,Magnus 2872 2713 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 2.0/5
5 Gelfand,Boris 2761 2659 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1.5/5
6 Anand,Viswanathan 2773 2563 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1.0/5

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 | Overall Final Standings

# Name Rtg Pts
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2872 10.0/15
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2789 9.0/15
3 Aronian,Levon 2812 9.0/15
4 Nakamura,Hikaru 2782 7.5/15
5 Anand, Viswanathan 2773 5.0/15
6 Gelfand,Boris 2777 4.5/15

Photos © Maria Emelianova. The Zurich Chess Challenge consisted of five rounds of classical chess, played from Thursday to Monday (30 January to 3 February), followed by a rapid tournament with reversed colors on the last day (4 February). Find the official website here. 

18097 reads 38 comments
6 votes


  • 3 years ago


    Great preformance by Carlsen, I'm actually flattered for Caruana as well. He's is a hell of a talent.

  • 3 years ago


    guys some awesome instrumentals always played during the commentry break. anyone know where i can get those?

    Very nice tournament and loved the coverage of the event thanks!!

  • 3 years ago


    yea cause im just gonna solve the entire game :P

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen sounds more humble than I would have expected

  • 3 years ago


    Anand should consider retiring like Kasparov did. Bow out gracefully...

  • 3 years ago


    A distinct decline on the games of Anand.  The former world blitz king suffered miserably.  Hope he recovers, picks-up the pieces, and rebuild again.

  • 3 years ago


    Add me to the list of people who loved the TV coverage at Zurich. They did 2 things very well that I wish other tournaments would do:

    1. Show the players 95% of the time and the commentators and the audience only occasionally. I've nothing against the commentators at recent events in London and Chennai but its the players we've come to see!

    2. Show the current match board on the screen at all times while the commentators experiment with possible variations on another board. It's annoying when you can go for several minutes without being able to look at the match board in other tournaments.

  • 3 years ago


    Caruana's tournament preformence rating for rapid is 3042!

  • 3 years ago


    Anand is about ninth in the world, so what ocurred was basically to be expected.  That's why Carlson was so favored to win the World Championship as it was the world number one versus the world number nine. Anand, while a very nice person, is simply not as strong as he was some years ago.  The next World Championship will be more exciting.  Hopefully, Aronian will win the Candidates Tournament, but almost any of the top players will do better than what Anand was capable of doing.

  • 3 years ago


    Anand should have been replaced with Kramnik. What a poor tournament for now former world champion. 

    (+2-2=1) - blitz
    (+1-2=2) - classical
    (+0-3=2) - rapid

    Overall: (+3-7=5) 

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen said on norwegian TV that he was totally unfocused after spending the night watching basketball, yet he still performed decent. Haha.

  • 3 years ago


    Carlsen didn't have to win the Rapids to prove he is the best in the world.  He will be the greatest chess player this century.

  • 3 years ago


    Oh and I also wanted to say, that this tournament was a perfect example, of how chess tournaments should be casted. Awesome camera work and angles, both the actual board, and the commentators analysis board were clearly visible, and - the most important thing - you were showing the players not the commentators. Maybe not all the time, but the ratio was clearly in "camera showing players" favour ;)  (that is really annoying when in other tournaments, they show the commentators all the time, instead of the players..) 

    I wish all big tournaments were streamed like that.. Great work organizers !

  • 3 years ago


    Lol.. Carlsen won, that's right. But he didn't score 10/10.. just 10 points overall (but classical games were scored W-2 D-1 L-0)


    Well anyways - This norwegian kid looks kinda unstoppable at this moment. Wow..

  • 3 years ago


    Great tournament...an absolute pleasure to watch 6 of the Worlds very best players slug it out against one another.

    Great coverage by chess.com.....

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