Sinquefield 06

2014 Sinquefield Cup
This super-GM double round robin tournament is being played from August 27th to September 7th. It is billed as the strongest tournament in the history of chess.

The players – Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) – are the world’s number 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, the average rating is 2802, making this the first ever Category XXIII tournament!

The prize fund is US $315,000 in total, with the winner getting $100,000, the runner up $75,00, and the rest $50,000 – $20,000. The venue is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center at 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108. Tickets cost $15 per round, $65 for five rounds and $100 for all ten rounds.

It has happened once before in history. Karpov started the Linares 1994 tournament with a devastating 6-0, but this must be even more impressive. Caruana moves to a 6-0, and unbelievable performance. He is winning so much rating that all of the other players in this event are losing some. The question in everyone’s mind is not if he will win the tournament, but if he will go 10-0.

 

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Live commentary at Lester’s Sports Bar by GM Varuzhan Akobian and GM Ian Rogers

 

 

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The commentators analyze in a flat-screen TV while the televisions around the room show the live internet broadcast

Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Aronian, Levon
Nakamura repeated a line he tried against Carlsen last year, but he obtained next to nothing then and he obtained next to nothing now. Aronian tried to spice up the game after his opponent wasted two moves without any real purpose.

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Nakamura has strangely been very imprecise

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Kasparov had his own opinion of Nakamura’s maneuver

However the Armenian might have overpressed, and his passed d-pawn was weaker than it seemed. Nakamura missed his chance to play around the pawn and capture it later, and instead attacked it too quickly. This let Aronian counter-attack the weak c4 pawn and after the trade of pawns the draw became very likely.

Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime
An accelerated dragon, not the most common of openings at the top level but one that guarantees interesting fights. Unusually, MVL confused his move order and played 7…0-0 instead of 7…Qa5! Both variations are of course perfectly playable, but the real mistake came when it was time to retake on d5.

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MVL confused his move-order and it left him in a position he was not too familiar with

Black should have taken with the knight and eased the pressure, but instead MVL took with the pawn and Carlsen seized his chance for the initiative. A transposition into a very pleasant endgame looked torturous for the French player as it was exactly what Carlsen loves: a position with no risk where he can push forever. However this did not happen today; actually Carlsen lost his advantage very quickly and the resulting opposite colored bishop endgame was an easy draw. Very strange.

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“I had a good position today and I screwed up. That’s why I’m in a foul mood now” Carlsen explained to Maurice Ashley in the post-game show

Caruana, Fabiano 1-0 Topalov, Veselin
An absolute demolition! We recommend seeing the comments in the board below.

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Caruana is one of the most humble players in the top level of chess. When asked about his performance compared to Karpov’s in Linares 1994: “”In terms of play, I’m not even close to Karpov.”