The Caruana Express
Two historical facts characterized what has been called the strongest tournament ever - and it actually was, rating-wise: a 22 year old from Brooklyn not only finished undefeated, but scored an impressive +7 out of 10 rounds. Fabiano Caruana, with his gentle smile and his Italian flag, had an amazing run, that reminds closely what Carlsen did in Nanjing 5 years ago. Back then Carlsen was younger than Caruana, and it was the true break through that projected the Norwegian ace into the Olympus of the greatest players ever. Performance over 3000 in a 10 rounder with the best players is a thing that only true champions can achieve. The second interesting fact is that - probably for the first time in decades - no Russians were to be seen in such an important top event. It looks like the wind has changed direction, and now blows from West. Norway, Italy, USA, France, Armenia and Bulgaria were represented in St. Louis. The Caruana Express is now awaited at the Grand Prix tournaments, starting October the 1st in Baku, Azerbaijan. All the chess aficionados would like to see the Brooklyn kid challenge the World Champion!
Carlsen clinched second (and 75,000 USD), with a +1 performance that is unusually low for the World Champion; Veselin Topalov got third, playing some good chess; Aronian is not going through a period of good form, and shared fourth with the French MVL, who lacks a bit of experience at this level. Nakamura had a bad tournament. scoring only 3 points out of 10 rounds. Hikaru belongs to the top, and he'll be back performing at his level.
ICC had full coverage of the event, with live commentary on the ICC TV, Game Of the Day videos and the TRIVIA contest.
2014-09-01 Rest Day
After 5 rounds, who nobody would define less than thrilling and exciting, Fabiano Caruana leads the rournament with an amazing performance: he won all the 5 games of the first round robin. It's an almost incredible feat: the Italian GM beat Carlsen, Topalov, Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave and Aronian, and all in a magnificent style. Someone calculated Fabiano's mathematically incaculable rating performance to be 3601. As our friend, chess player, coach and blogger Micheal "fpawn" Aigner noted on FaceBook "Now that's interesting, because some computer experts (Ken Regan, et.al.) have stated that God would play at 3600."
The question which comes to mind is: is this a lifetime tournament, or we are assisting to chess history in the making, and to the rise of a new Chess King? Caruana is doing what Carlsen did in China in 2009, when he beat (it was night in the Western world, and I remember following the games with gallons of coffee to help me stay up) everyone, affirming in an unequivocal and strong way he was Numero Uno. In that tournament Carlsen collected 8 points out of 10 rounds, leaving the then-2813-rated Veselin Topalov 2.5 points behind.
Fabiano is showing a confidence that he was lacking until now, playing stellar chess and fearing no one. In the Live Rating list he's now rated 2826, and only thank to Carlsen's great comeback in the 5th round the distance that divides Fab from Magnus is still remarkable.
Caruana's style of play seems to be the only one fit to challenge the Norwegian genius, and it would surely be interesting to see - in the future - a match between these two young giants for the World Champion Title.
This year the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis aimed at the best, and they succeeded: the 2nd Sinquefield Cup will be the strongest chess tournament ever. The line-up is just amazing:
#1 and World Champion Magnus Carlsen (2877)
#2 Levon Aronian (2805)
#3 Fabiano Caruana (2801)
#5 Hikaru Nakamura (2787)
#8 Veselin Topalov (2772)
#9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2768)
The incredible average rating is 2801.6, making it a category XXXIII event! The 2014 Sinquefield Cup is the second category 23 tournament ever held, after the 2014 Zurich Challenge.