Reports | October 08, 2012 21:24

Carlsen takes down Caruana, moves to 2nd place in Bilbao

Carlsen takes down Caruana, moves to 2nd place in Bilbao

In today's 6th round of the Masters Final tournament leader Fabiano Caruana lost his first game. The Italian GM was ground down in an ending by Magnus Carlsen, who avoided theory and started his game with a Philidor set-up. The other two games, Karjakin-Aronian and Vallejo-Anand, ended in draws. Carlsen is now 2 points behind Caruana with four rounds to go.

Round 6 in action in the Alhondiga in Bilbao | Photos thanks to @bilbaomasters

Event 5th Grand Slam Masters Final | PGN via TWIC
Dates October 8-13, 2012
Location 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.

The presentation of the players before the start of the round

After eight days of rest, and getting accustomed to the Central European time zone, the players continued the Masters Final tournament on Monday in Bilbao, Spain. Fabiano Caruana performed best in the surprisingly chilly weather in Sao Paulo and left Brazil's largest city with 11 points out of a possible 15. The world's highest rated players, Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen, followed with 7 and 6 points respectively. World Champion Vishy Anand drew all his games in Sao Paulo which got him 5 points, while Paco Vallejo and Sergey Karjakin took just 3 points with them to the Basque country.

Like in previous years the games are played in the Central Atrium of the Alhondiga Bilbao, in a soundproofed glass box with view to the public. This glass room measures 8x8m witdh, with a high of 3,5m and weighs 8 tons

The first game in round 6 ended rather quickly. In a Marshall Ruy Lopez Karjakin and Aronian reached an opposite-coloured bishop ending after about two hours of play, and a brief look at Chief Arbiter Anil Surender of Sweden was enough to legally shake hands two moves later. The Sofia Rule is in effect in Bilbao, but as we know, in many cases it doesn't have the desired effect.

The big moment in this game was of course Black's 20th move. Aronian:

I found this idea in Nalchik at one of th e Grand Prix tournaments, three years ago. I was very excited and couldn't wait to play it. I already lost hope, because it's a nice idea. Together with my second Gabriel Sargissian we guessed that in the first game everybody will take on d5 and it's basically a forced draw.

Karjakin in fact started his comment at the press conference (attended by many spectators) by apologizing for the short draw.

After such an interesting novelty it was very risky to take on f4 or to play something more ambitious. It was clear that Levon analyzed it deeply so therefore I decided to take on d5, but of course it's nothing.

PGN string

Commentator Leontxo Garcia, who has always been a strong advocate of measures to stimulate fighting chess, asked whether there's a "solution" for games like this one. Aronian said:

I've always been rooting for Chess960 and hopefully during my career I will be able to play more of that.


Yes, it's a little bit too much. Sometimes you just want to play chess without my analysis but you cannot do it. I have two suggestions. First I completely agree with Levon, I also like Chess960. This is I think the future of the game, to play this at least in some tournaments. And, as was suggested before by other grandmasters, if we make a short draw, let's say in less than two hours, we can play one rapid game.

Somewhat later, but still just before the first time control, Vallejo and Anand also split the point - the 6th draw now for the World Champ. Vallejo said he expected Anand to play the Sicilian, and Anand said he didn't because he expected his opponent to expect that! The Spaniard's 18.e5 was a safe choice, but doesn't seem to offer White very much.

PGN string

Vallejo and Anand talking about their game

Carlsen seemed determined from the start to avenge his unnecessary first round loss against Caruana. He played 2.d3 against the French, and then put his king's bishop on e2. Because Caruana played e6-e5 at an early stage this started to look like a Philidor with colours reversed.

Sometimes in order to create a fight you need to choose lines that aren't necessarily the most thoroughly analysed

said Carlsen after the game. The Norwegian managed to outplay the tournament leader little by little, profiting from only tiny inaccuracies. As one of our readers, a llife-long fan of the 12th World Champion, put it in a private message:

Carlsen is the new Karpov, but better. Karpov+ !

Carlsen himself said about the ending:

It's clear that it is favourable for White. The only question is whether Black can hold it or not.


I thought I should be able to hold the endgame. It doesn't seem like a losing position.

PGN string

Caruana and Carlsen after their game

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Schedule & results

Round 1 24.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 6 08.10.12 17:00 CET
Anand 1-1 Vallejo   Vallejo 1-1 Anand
Aronian 3-0 Karjakin   Karjakin 1-1 Aronian
Caruana 3-0 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Caruana
Round 2 25.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 7 09.10.12 17:00 CET
Vallejo 0-3 Carlsen   Carlsen - Vallejo
Karjakin 0-3 Caruana   Caruana - Karjakin
Anand 1-1 Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Round 3 26.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 8 10.10.12 17:00 CET
Aronian 1-1 Vallejo   Vallejo - Aronian
Caruana 1-1 Anand   Anand - Caruana
Carlsen 1-1 Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Round 4 28.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 9 12.10.12 17:00 CET
Caruana 3-0 Vallejo   Karjakin - Vallejo
Carlsen 1-1 Aronian   Carlsen - Anand
Karjakin 1-1 Anand   Caruana - Aronian
Round 5 29.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 10 13.10.12 16:30 CET
Vallejo 1-1 Karjakin   Vallejo - Caruana
Anand 1-1 Carlsen   Aronian - Carlsen
Aronian 1-1 Caruana   Anand - Karjakin

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 6 standings (football)


Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 6 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.


Anonymous's picture

I am sorry for the double post but it takes ages before it s stands there, so you think it is not done and try agian.

JQ's picture

It is true he is not an opening encyclopedia but he compensates with his endgame Capablanca used to. All he is looking for is the type of endgame he likes in order to start working out his opponent.

S3's picture

Being an opening encyclopedia allows him to play these kinds of openings.

Anonymous's picture

If objection for its own sake was an art, I'd consider you a magician - it isn't though, haven't we all been there at some point? It does get boring after a while.

S3's picture

Not for me, I love to share my knowledge and help others. But If it makes you feel better I can write some things "anonymous".

But first please explain what a magician has to do with art.

valg321's picture

he certainly played like he always aspired to and said so in an interview: "no method or preference, just the right moves like Fischer did"

RealityCheck's picture

I cant wait until the 2013 candidates tourney and the next world championship match.
These exhibition tournaments featuring raw coffee house chess are a real bore at pro level.
The positrons, piece placement down right ugly. Look at C vs C after Qxf3... Homo Erectus,.

redivivo's picture

"These exhibition tournaments featuring raw coffee house chess are a real bore"

Yes, one is longing for more excitement like Anand-Gelfand instead of being forced to follow the Homo Erectus coffeehouse chess of Carlsen.

RealityCheck's picture

I for one, enjoyed the Anand vs Gelfand Wch Match.
Looking for excitement isn't my bag. I prefer intense matches like the one Vishy and Gelfy played in Moscow.

Septimus's picture

Come on guys, Anand is planning for the long term. Is it not obvious that he is hiding his preparation?

Pablo's picture

Anand said, some months ago, that he had problems getting motivated. I think this is showing his shape; unfortunately, I have to say, and is hard to disagree, that our World Champ is a bit boring to watch.

I understand that this doesn't have to do with his intentions, but he is in a situation that he can control anymore. He can't play the same attacking chess he used to play. How much time happened since then? I think the last couple of years, at least, Anand couldn't play attacking, interesting chess.

I believe his elo will be stable between 2760 and 2790. It's hard to imagine Anand getting 2800 again. It can happen, of course; but it won't be easy for him in this shape and with this kind of motivation when he has the pieces in front of him.

sab's picture

Lol, you haven't forget (neither forgive) that ?! :D

Thomas's picture

"Carlsen seemed determined from the start to avenge his unnecessary first round loss against Caruana. He played 2.d3 against the French, and then put his king's bishop on e2."
If this is determination from the start, what would be lack of determination? It worked out in the end, but to my taste these two sentences combined are a bit too glorifying ... . Yet another question is if there is such a thing as a 'necessary' loss.

MW's picture

By the standards of 20 or even 10 years ago those moves would have meant the player with white was not trying very hard to win, but, in an era where the Marshall Attack is a drawing weapon, what the author says makes sense - or at least isn't a contradiction.

Thomas's picture

In case you missed it, black (initially) played 1.-e6 rather than 1.-e5, and French mainlines aren't exactly considered drawing weapons. Later, putting the bishop on g2 might also be more "determined" - the King's Indian attack has basically the same idea or intention as the KID, to go for the opponent's king without much ado.

To me it seems that Carlsen "played for two results" avoiding risks (risks of entering mainline French theory - the first game with Caruana showed that he isn't too familiar with the French ...). Is this determination? Would anyone call it determination from anyone else but Carlsen?

redivivo's picture

"Would anyone call it determination from anyone else but Carlsen?"

Yes, if Anand opened like that he would be determined to draw and also succeed in 25 moves.

Brecht's picture

i m wondering one thing, would Bobby Fisher teach some endgame techniques to Carlsen or not???

jambow's picture

Very interesting game by Magnus and I would attribute his play more to natural genius than computers. He sees much of what Capablanca did so the comparision is quite natural imho.

jambow's picture

Really enjoyed that Karjakin and Aronian both are longing for chess 960 I think Fischer was on to something.

filiusdextris's picture

Carlsen's opening play basically says the same thing. Three top players then - any other known opinions?

S3's picture

There is a difference in avoiding main lines and preparing a side line compared to chess 960 where you basically see an entirely new starting position.

Booked up guys like Leko have played a lot of 960chess in the past, as have Aronian, Svidler, and even Naka, but I can't recall a single event of Carlsen. Perhaps Karjakin played in Mainz once but he hasn't made a habit of it either.

Aditya's picture

So why dont they have more 960 tournaments? Is there one or more influential person/s opposing it?
It seems like such a reasonable idea. Perhaps it will put to waste many many hours of opening theory study, but it's not like they are replacing Chess with 960 altogether.

MW's picture

I think it's hard enough to find sponsors for standard chess - much less some "strange" chess variant that only chess insiders understand the motivation for.

Aditya's picture

Well it's the least strange of all chess variants I've known. In fact, every time I tried explaining it to someone, they are all for it immediately. It actually brings chess a little closer to the general masses who know the rules and play casually. The complications behind the quick theoretical draws and opening novelties in classical chess are only appreciated by a select few.

MW's picture

Just trying to say what I think is holding chess 960 back, and I think it probably has more to do with conservative attitudes on the part of sponsors and organizers than it does with the opposition of any influential person(s).

RG13's picture

I think Aronian played Nakamura in a Chess 960 championship.

Septimus's picture

A simple formula exists to get back the desire to win. Anand should participate in unrated tournaments. Beating up weak players may spark something?

PircAlert's picture

Anand is trying, Anand is not losing. Thats all I want to see in Anand. I don't want to see Anand risking and losing and giving dubious distinction of beating world champion to those would win in that case.

How about this one? I want to see many more invites for Anand in top tournaments to give other players a chance to beat him as they may not have a chance to play in a world championship match. Anyone who could not beat him should not be given a chance in the next tournament, instead new players be invited and given a chance!! Guaranteed invite for Anand!!

Kamalakanta's picture

Carlsen is unbelievable! The way he can squeeze a point out of positions that many GMs would have left for a draw is impressive. He has a great capacity for great work in over-the-board play....great tenacity of effort.

Bronkenstein's picture

Fabiano slowly selfdestructed in a slightly better position which he reached surprisingly fast - as black! Similar thing almost happened in his very first game, that french victory. He was practically winning after some 10-11 moves(!), and the only thing that saved his opponent from tactical miniature was probably Fab´s disbelief that so strong player can successfully reach busted position in less than a dozen of moves.

Anyway, Caruana is still solo leader with good chances to finish first, and he is young enough to learn fast on his mistakes.

redivivo's picture

Yes of course it was Caruana who selfdestructed and his opponent had nothing to do with it, sounds like your usual description of Carlsen's wins.

redivivo's picture

I really wonder about this bunch of guys you find at Chessbomb, talking about Carlsen in every game of every tournament (also when he isn't playing), repeating the same tired stuff about how he is overrated, a cheater, a coward, etc, and how anyone ever appreciating one of his games is a hysterical fanboy.

I don't know that this type of obsession and hatred comes from, he's just a 21-year-old that is good at playing chess. Still in every game it is the same thing: his opponent has the better position and selfdestructs against the lucky Carlsen. That type of pure hate is just sad.

Thomas's picture

Didn't you show the same "hate" towards Leko after his win in London against Ivanchuk? If Leko wins such a game, he only won because the opponent blundered. If Carlsen wins a similar game, the opponent made a mistake because Magnus put him under tremendous pressure - hence the result was logical. This doesn't apply to his game against Caruana (it's hard to "find" Caruana's mistake[s]) but to some earlier examples.

I think "annotating by the players involved" is as much or more questionable than annotating by the result of the game.

redivivo's picture

"Didn't you show the same "hate" towards Leko after his win in London against Ivanchuk?"

Hardly, I'm not stating in every game year in year out that Leko is a coward and a cheater, is overrated, and that he never wins for any other reasons than that the opponent blunders in superior positions.

It's an entirely different thing when you state that Topalov wins because of gifts from his opponents (for example against Ivanchuk) and that this is a big difference compared to when Leko wins in the same way against the same opponent.

S3's picture

Of course I wouldn't know about chessbomb, but perhaps people don't call Leko a cheater cause he isn't one? I can't recall a single Carlsenesque incident of him be it with handshakes or lies about touching pieces and take backs.

Such differences might explain why some people call Carlsen a cheater and why others (like you) keep going on about the boring draws of Leko & Anand.

redivivo's picture

"Such differences might explain why some people call Carlsen a cheater and why others (like you) keep going on about the boring draws of Leko & Anand"

I wouldn't even bother following the games of Anand and Leko, they are just not interesting to me and I can't find any reason to follow all their games just to complain about them. If Anand played like he did five years ago I would certainly appreciate more than his chess of the last years though, and find it fun to follow his games.

The difference compared to the people who are obsessed with Carlsen is that they seem to think of him every day, comment on his chess in a derogatory way only during every event in spite of his winning most of them, and repeat in every game some irrelevant incident from a blitz game in the past, just because his playing chess well makes them feel so bad that it's almost unbearable.

S3's picture

"I wouldn't even bother following the games of Anand and Leko, they are just not interesting to me "

I didn't say you watch their games, I just said you like to complain about them. You of all people should understand there must be trolls at Carlsen's games as well. It's the internet st***d !

Thomas's picture

Leko is currently less in the spotlights, that's why people don't talk about him "every day" - but still in tournaments where he doesn't even participate, recently someone wrote here that "Anand is the new Leko".

Leko's games "are just not interesting to me" - hmm, Leko can grind out endgame wins just like Carlsen - but for whichever reason you made up your mind that Leko's games aren't interesting, or rather that Leko himself isn't interesting. Leko may have a lower 'success rate', and (in tournaments without Sofia rules) he is more willing to accept when a game is even and further efforts would be pointless, hence offering or accepting a draw.

redivivo's picture

"Leko's games "are just not interesting to me" - hmm, Leko can grind out endgame wins just like Carlsen - but for whichever reason you made up your mind that Leko's games aren't interesting, or rather that Leko himself isn't interesting"

I have certainly made my mind up that I in general find Leko's games less interesting than those of many other top players, so I prefer looking at games of other players rather than follow Leko around just to complain about how boring it is to do it and root for his opponents.

Leko drew ten of his eleven games in London and it's no surprise that four of his games from the tournament still don't have a single comment at As a comparison I think all Caruana's games in the Grand Slam final have been very exciting. I'm not the least interested in how Leko or Carlsen are as persons though.

Thomas's picture

"four of his [Leko's] games from the tournament still don't have a single comment at"

Another redivivo statistic which is at best funny, but quite suggestive: Leko shares this "fate" with Topalov and Grischuk - uncommented games include the rather spectacular draw between Topalov and Grischuk and, dare I say it, Leko and Grischuk.

Bureaucrat's picture

@redivivo: Totally agree. Those clowns who follow all of Carlsen's games only to criticize everything he does on and off the board, what a sorry bunch of losers they are. And it's not only Carlsen who has such "followers"; for instance Nakamura, Anand or Gelfand also have anti-fans endowed with the same type of personality disorder. Those jerks spend all their time criticizing the great player whom they have singled out to be the object of their hatred, bitching and whining and denigrating that player's achievments. Idiots!

abhi's picture

Very impressed by Magnus' victory today, reminds me of my idols Capablanca and Karpov. And i really like the idea of 'let s just play chess'.

For all those commenting on anand, i must say being a huge fan of his lifelong, i m pretty dissapointed.

Fear of losing is the worst thing that can happen to a chess player, and that s what Anand is going through right now. He s not playing Chess anymore, WC after WC has made him into a a machine, just memorizing his home prep with seconds.... Last couple of years i have seen NO CREATIVITY from him over the board what so ever. His wins only come from opening preperation or opponents mistakes. I m saddened....maybe if anand lost his World Title next year...he ll lose this Prestige and fear of losing and play entertaining chess again.

columbo's picture

Superb Game by Carlsen, one for the books

Anonymous's picture

Trying to find a similar setup as Carlsen chose in this game, it is surpisingly similar to italian opening with a subsequent d5 by black in both cases white ends up with a c3/ d3 center a rook on e1 the main difference being white bishop on f1 rather than b3/c2
I noticed that radja scored quite well with this setup in the italian, it looks innocuous but it s quite venomous actually

RealityCheck's picture


1) This idea of "let's just play chess" ain"t no new thing. The debate, pre-game prep vs thinking over the board, has been around since chess players could read and write books--opening encyclopedias, end game manuals etc.
Wasn't it Efim Geller who studied little, said he preferred doing his thinking over the board?

2) "His (Anand's) wins only come from opening prep or opponents mistakes". What is this? Baloney!!
Show me a won game where no mistake was made by the loser and I'll eat the score sheet.

And, what do you know about creativity?

The dis-respect you folks show Vishy is outta this world. Shame. Shame. Shame on you!

chesshire cat's picture

It was NOT Efim Geller, I think (a really great player); he had a reputation as a fearsome theoretician and vry hard worker.

dmcw's picture

I am a (bad) chess player, and so I like to watch chess on the internet.

I am not a chess960 player, and so I am not interested in watching chess960 on the internet.

hakapika's picture

The idea of "let's just play chess" is the idea of "let's enjoy chess-ingenuity".
It is a healthy sign of chess that this idea is alive among some of our top-players.


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