Reports | September 25, 2012 23:06

Caruana wins again in Sao Paulo, Carlsen recovers

Fabiano Caruana has taken the lead at the Grand Slam Masters Final in Sao Paulo, Brazil. On Tuesday the Italian grandmaster won his second consecutive game, with Black against Sergey Karjakin, with two exchange sacrifices. Magnus Carlsen recovered from his first round loss by beating Paco Vallejo in a B vs N ending. Vishy Anand drew his game, a Berlin Ending, with Levon Aronian.

Fabiano Caruana | Photo © ChessVibes

Event 5th Grand Slam Masters Final | PGN via TWIC
Dates September 24-29, 2012
Location Sao Paulo, Brazil & Bilbao, Spain
System 6-player round robin
Players Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Paco Vallejo
Rate of play

90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the remaining moves with a 10-second increment

Extra Players are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with the technical assistant. The football scoring system is used: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Fabiano Caruana's progress in recent years has been amazingly steady, winning about 40 rating points every year since the summer of 2007. At the moment the 20-year-old Italian grandmaster of American descent is the world's 8th rated player at 2773, but in the live ratings he has surpassed Sergey Karjakin and Vishy Anand to reach #6, thanks to two victories in Sao Paulo. It's too early to draw conclusions, but the Masters Final could be a new and firm step for Caruana on his way to the top. The way he outclassed Sergey Karjakin in the second round was quite impressive.

PGN string

As a result of his lot number Magnus Carlsen had to start with two blacks in Sao Paulo. We know that he lost a probably winning ending in the first round, but in the second he made no mistake. Vallejo made only one.

PGN string

Levon Aronian once said that he plays the Berlin Ending when he wants to play for a win with Black, but on Tuesday it was a good way to draw with the World Champ. Anand played the same as Aronian did with White (!) in his match against Kramnik in April in Zurich, but the Indian offered a draw two moves earlier, in an almost symmetrical final position.

PGN string

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Schedule & results

Round 1 24.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 6 08.10.12 16:00 CET
Anand ½-½ Vallejo   Vallejo - Anand
Aronian 1-0 Karjakin   Karjakin - Aronian
Caruana 1-0 Carlsen   Carlsen - Caruana
Round 2 25.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 7 09.10.12 16:00 CET
Vallejo 0-1 Carlsen   Carlsen - Vallejo
Karjakin 0-1 Caruana   Caruana - Karjakin
Anand ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Round 3 26.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 8 10.10.12 16:00 CET
Aronian - Vallejo   Vallejo - Aronian
Caruana - Anand   Anand - Caruana
Carlsen - Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Round 4 28.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 9 12.10.12 16:00 CET
Caruana - Vallejo   Karjakin - Vallejo
Carlsen - Aronian   Carlsen - Anand
Karjakin - Anand   Caruana - Aronian
Round 5 29.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 10 13.10.12 16:00 CET
Vallejo - Karjakin   Vallejo - Caruana
Anand - Carlsen   Aronian - Carlsen
Aronian - Caruana   Anand - Karjakin

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 2 standings (football)

1. Caruana,F   6
2. Aronian,L   4
3. Carlsen,M   3
4. Anand,V   2
5. Vallejo,F   1
6. Karjakin,S   0 

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 2 standings (classical)


Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Ellie's picture

Congratulations Caruana you are playing spectacular chess at the moment!

Morley's picture

Nice recovery from Magnus. He played the endgame perfectly, and made the most of Paco's accumulation of small inaccuracies. I think, despite his very uncharacteristic blunder yesterday in time trouble, that Carlsen is in good form and will win the tournament.

Karjakin seems to be in another place entirely. He didn't put up even a token fight in the first two rounds. Hopefully he gets it together soon.

Caruana has had things fall his way quite nicely so far. He has done a good job of capitalizing right away on his opponents' mistakes. His solidity will make him a contender for 1st in the later rounds.

Anand didn't really make much use of his double Whites in the first two rounds. Hopefully we see something from him soon! Aronian seemed pretty happy to end things peacefully and draw.

Thomas's picture

That's one way to summarize the first two rounds, but I would disagree here and there ... :

Vallejo-Carlsen: Did Vallejo make "small inaccuracies", or did he blunder? Often a matter of semantics. Others are more competent than "me plus an engine", to me it seems that 31.Rd1 (eliminating the dangerous d-pawn) would have been good enough for a draw. White has to see some tricks: 31.-a5 32.Rxd4+ Ke5 (32.-Kc5 33.Rd1 or 33.Rd5+) 33.Rd8! Rxd8 34.Nc6+ etc. . I agree that Carlsen played the endgame perfectly, but this may not have been enough objectively spoken.

"Karjakin ... didn't put up even a token fight in the first two rounds." His white game against Caruana became rather one-sided, but black against Aronian was a fight. The exchange sacrifice seems correct, if only he had found 23.-Nd3!! the game should end with a fighting draw. The engine line goes 24.Rxd3 Qxc4 25.Rd8 Ba6! (new diagonal for the unopposed bishop) 26.h4 Qf1+ 27.Kh2 Qf2+ with perpetual check.

"Caruana ... has done a good job of capitalizing right away on his opponents' mistakes."
Against Carlsen, he could have capitalized much earlier after Magnus' dreadful opening?! 10.-Na5?! wasn't just rare, it seems simply bad - is it coincidence that the predecessor was an amateur game from Sri Lanka? Caruana's first chance was 13.Bd3xg6 (not 13.Be2?!) hxg6 14.Qg4 - now castling short is suicide, and castling long costs the exchange. Caruana's second chance was 16.Bh5xg6 hxg6 17.Rh3, still more than fine for white. Only after the passive 16.Ra2 followed by the retreating 17.Re1 black could safely castle long and the game started going his way for a long time. It's not the first time that Carlsen benefitted from hesitant play by Caruana ... .

[With two supertournaments going on simultaneously, I don't blame Chessvibes/Peter Doggers that the game notes aren't as detailed as they could be, but it leaves things to add in the comments. I may be wrong here or there, others can add on my remarks!]

Thomas's picture

P.S.: No criticism whatsoever about this full report which appeared while I was typing - reassuring that Peter Doggers agrees with my take on Vallejo-Carlsen :)

bronkenstein's picture

+1, I am also wondering why are the commentators silent about Fabiano practically winning after only 10 moves vs MC, such showing by mr ´No1´ is almost scandalous. Too much respect , fear that they will lose readers (due to MC´s huge fanbase...), or just plain laziness/unawareness of what actually happened?

As usual (and especially amongst fans) the accent is almost invariably on the latter stages of the game (which is not even surprising anymore) when Magnus was pushing for the win, and on his later mistake. One could get the impression that Caruana wasn´t there at all =)

Daaim Shabazz's picture

I would agree that commentators sometimes have their Carlsen bias. I once heard a commentator state that a player was winning all the way until the time he resigned.

trollaras's picture

In chess there are bad moves, there are good moves, and there are Carlsen's moves. Carlsen's moves are the absolute, pure Truth. It's better to question God than claim that Carlsen has erred.

Anonymous's picture

Caruana played of a devastating attack today, he didn't capitalize on mistakes of his opponent ! He was ICE MAN today, impressive player

Anonymous's picture

Thank you Morley, as I see it this is a very good and well-balanced summary of the round.

Daniel's picture

Bravo Fabiano!

AljechinsCat's picture

I wondered before the tournament about what to expect from Vishy. Actually it looks like him to become Drawing Queen again. Vishy was always a beast with the whites but for now he didnt show anything special and i´m afraid he wont attack with black either.

S3's picture

He drew against Aronian who played the Berlin. That is not a reason to worry.

Bigglesworth's picture

Playing into Aronian's Berlin is plenty reason to worry about Anand's motivation to win.

S3's picture

Right..everyone who plays 1.e4 is unmotivated uh?

Thomas's picture

It may well be that Anand didn't really want to win, or even to fight against Aronian - sort of understandable given his record against Levon. Vishy has a poor score overall, and an extremely bad one with white when he didn't allow the Berlin: fast games included, there are three losses with 1.d4, one loss with the Scotch (Bilbao 2008) and a draw with the Italian (2009 World Blitz Ch), that's it!

So this time Anand may have been happy with a draw, and Aronian didn't mind either. But it doesn't say much about Anand's overall motivation: against Vallejo he played a full game, even if the result was a draw.

Bigglesworth's picture

There's a tad bit of a difference between playing 1. e4 and playing 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+. 4. d3, for example, is a fine move that usually gives a good game. Anand's opening decision simply ends the game, and he knew that when he played it.

Septimus's picture

I agree.

Thomas's picture

4. d3 doesn't promise much of an opening advantage, even if it keeps more pieces on the board. But as to Berlin mainline = end of game, I am pretty sure you would have decent losing chances with either color against a GM (somehow I think you don't have that title ...). And even between (top) GMs, games can still have a decisive result.

Anonymous's picture

Expect Anand to smoke caruana, but he won't inhale.

Anonymous's picture

Smoke Caruana? what are you smoking? Caruana is a machine!

fabio's picture

I was expecting Aronian to defeat Anand. but Anand defended well and manged a draw

RealityCheck's picture

I must be blind. @fabio "Anand defended well..." ??? it looked to me as though Aronian had defended well. Anands minor pieces that stormed the fortress! The impregnable Berlin Wall.
Lev's Kings Knight crossed the frontier line twice then scurried back home. A rook exchanged on delta one. Pls show me a game in which a lonely Knight sortie has caused your opponent concern.
If you are the real fabio, congrat"s on two nice wins.

Michael's picture

I hope Caruana keeps doing better and better and we get to see Nakamura shut his big mouth for a change. Let hime eat those cr@ppy words he said about Fabiano.

Go Caruana!

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Well... they both are getting better.

columbo's picture

No, they are not BOTH getting better, stop putting your flag in this bycicle, Nakamura never changed and will never change

RG13's picture

As much as fans complain about Anand the top players are still wary of him and seem content to draw with him.

Anonymous's picture

Hooray for the Yank Caruana!

Anonymous's picture

amazing to read the comments, seems that lots of people don't want to admit that Caruana is among the very best players now. " J'avance Masqué ! " Descartes

llouis's picture

Can caruana crush the Draw machine Vishy?

Anonymous's picture

a real good test anyway, let's see

Webbimio's picture

I hope that Anand will return to win against the boy!

Anonymous's picture

With Caruana in such a great shape, a draw at best for Anand

Ammon 's picture

Chessvibes is much better. Chessbase is becoming the mouth piece of carlsen, notice they glorify his loss and say nearly nothing of aronian. And again his win, next to nothing about Caruana. Notice so many reports of chess base, check out the number of pics dedicated to others vs that of carlsen, and especially the downplaying of kramnik/aronian/etc victories. Especially aronian victories/when he climbs the rating like few months ago (then compare articles where magnus gains points). this why i no longer read Chessbase.

chill's picture

Chill dude. if they are glorifying Carlsen for the loss, it automatically translates in to glorifying Caruana.

Thomas's picture

How could you write this comment if you no longer read Chessbase? :) This time their reports are actually written by Albert Silver, an inactive Brazilian player with Elo 2149 (reports provided by the organizers?). Silver at least casually mentions that Carlsen could have been in serious opening trouble: "Fabiano Caruana found himself facing a French defense by Magnus Carlsen, and seemed to get a significant edge very early on." For round 1, only the headline (picked by Chessbase?) is odd: "Aronian wins, Carlsen loses" - what was Caruana's result?? :)
Another story is that, at least so far, Chessbase doesn't make ANY own intellectual effort to cover the event.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

I'm not sure people realize that ChessBase gets mostly independent contributions for the news they run. In other words, it may not be a ChessBase staffperson writing, but a contributor.

Thomas's picture

Yep, that's what I meant - but "independent" might be misleading: someone writing on behalf of the organizers isn't independent in the sense of criticizing organizers, players whom they invited, ... . And organizers may also have a Carlsen bias, IMHO it's most obvious for the London Classics.

Tafit's picture

Yeah it's interesting to note how little credit is given to Caruana. He played the opeing much better and at the end Carlsen had a winning position, but just because Caruana played the exchange sacrifice to exploit Carlsen's time trouble, it was a very practical choice, in Carlsen's style I would say.

master's picture

caruana is taking too much risk and getting lucky. Dare he take risk against Anand and he will go down

columbo's picture


Truth's picture

It's so fun how some people like to scold Carlsen, probably they are 2000-2400 players who will achieve nothing in chess ( and in life, frustrated people in their early 30 or with 40 years more already ) and is jealous of Carlsen's success inside and outside the board. People adore Carlsen because he represents greatness, that the only thing that matters is the win (always playing "draw" positions), being the best at something, and who hate him hate these qualities too.

S3's picture

@truth, please show me such a comment of people scolding, i can't find them.

Septimus's picture

How many wins does Anand need to put him back to 2800?

redivivo's picture

Approximately as many as he has won the last three years in all.

Thomas's picture

A bit more than the number of games he won in January 2011 (Tata Steel, 8.5/13). Against opponents of the same strength, each win is worth 5 Elo points ([actual score 1 - expected score 0.5] * K-factor 10). So Anand would need something like five wins to cross 2800.

Conversely, dropping to 2750 is 'hard' and time-consuming as long as he keeps drawing and doesn't lose any games: it would take about 25 draws against someone like Vallejo (or a field with an average rating equivalent to Vallejo).

chill's picture

He will drop below 2750 in 2013 but yes he would still be able to retain the WCC

chesshire cat's picture

Hmmm...caught on the back foot with d4 then shows nothing at all with e4. Maybe now c4 for Vishy.. : )

Anonymous's picture

This Caruana is really an amazing talent. He is the youngest in the Top 10 and look how many games he plays, simply amazing!

katar's picture

Topalov-like game by Caruana. Carlsen is playing very interesting chess, clearly playing to win as Black and selecting unconventional openings. I just noticed, half the field is named "CAR-".

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