Reports | October 09, 2012 20:09

Bilbao: Carlsen wins again, now tied for first place with Caruana

In Tuesday's seventh round of the Masters Final in Bilbao Magnus Carlsen won again. The Norwegian grandmaster beat Francisco Vallejo, and now shares first place with Fabiano Caruana, who drew his game with Sergey Karjakin. The encounter between Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand also ended in a draw. Wednesday is a rest day.

Vallejo resigns his game against Magnus Carlsen | Photos courtesy of the Masters Final

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.

He had a bit of a slow start in Brazil, but in Bilbao the world's number one needed just two rounds to make up for that. After beating Vallejo in 43 moves on Tuesday, Carlsen caught Caruana in first place as the Italian drew his game with Karjakin. During the rest day, the "two Cs" have 12 points which is 3 more than Levon Aronian. The Masters Final is starting to look a lot like the 2011 edition, when Carlsen also made a comeback in the second half (and emerged as the winner). 

Carlsen now joint first with Caruana

Contrary to what the official press release writes, Carlsen did not "raise" the "so-called 'Winawere variant' of the french opening." Instead, the Norwegian avoided the heavy Winawer theory by taking on d5 on the 4th move, transposing into the Exchange Variation. He said:

I wanted to avoid the most theoretical lines and besides I think it's possible to fight for a small advantage even in this variation.

The early middlegame started quietly, but soon thing got more complicated when White directed his pieces towards the opponent's king. Vallejo got into slight timetrouble and then made two inaccuracies which decided the game.

PGN string

The final phase of the game Carlsen vs Vallejo

Caruana dropped two points as he couldn't break through Karjakin's defensive setup in a Berlin Ending. The Russian GM said something typical of top level chess these days:

It's one of the most critical lines in the Berlin. Of course I analysed it a lot but as there are many lines, I could not remember which was the best line for Black. 

PGN string

Did Vishy Anand ever play seven draws in a row? We'll leave that to our readers to sort out, but it does start to look like a personal record for the Indian.

Update: as Sigvat notes, the first eight games of the 1995 PCA World Championship Match Kasparov-Anand were all drawn. But in a tournament?

We'd like to add that it doesn't really say much: many top players play tournaments with lots of draws these days. But OK, at least the "fans" have something to talk about...

PGN string

Aronian said about the game:

I thought I had pressure, I was happy to receive this position. I think I was not playing accurately and as in previous encounters with Vishy, if you don't play accurately, that's his strength, he neutralizes very well.

I had the feeling I had to go for g4 in many places, but I couldn't work it out. Somehow Black is in time, in my calculations. I thought perhaps it's a better idea to slowly put pressure on my opponent but maybe I went too slow at times.

Wednesday is a rest day in Bilbao. At the press conference Vallejo said that there would be a football match in the morning. On Twitter Karjakin mentioned that he was planning to join "if he didn't oversleep", while Aronian had something else in mind.

If the weather is good I'll try and go see one of the beaches here, maybe even swim. I know you guys don't swim right now, but for somebody born in a cold climate it's alright!

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 3-0 Vallejo
Karjakin 0-3 Caruana   Caruana 1-1 Karjakin
Anand 1-1 Aronian   Aronian 1-1 Anand
Round 3 26.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 8 11.10.12 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 7 standings (football)


Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 7 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

5 seconds my ass

Anonymous's picture

Oh and you are Tom Servo, right? LMAO :-)))

sen's picture

A normal person will understand that anand is not in the form for last 2 years(may be due to his personal reason like fatherhood,he still trying to balance his chess and personal life).You don't expect a person not in form to take risk,then probability of lossing his very high.Anand is playing sensible chess but cutting down risk down and also trying to find form without loosing games.It should be fine if he backs to full form just before next world championship and win the challenger. Please stop putting meaningless comments here.

Anonymous's picture

When will world champion Anand actually win a game against his peers?

Cyric Renner's picture

I was wonder the same thing. When was the last time Anand won a tournament game ?

Weakest WC since Euwe.

Morley's picture

A lot of French Defenses lately!

Anyways, Vallejo held on for a little, but by move 30 he was close to losing. I think he played too passively, and let Carlsen place his pieces on ideal squares. Every endgame looks bad for Black, but Vallejo made Carlsen's job a lot easier by blundering mate in 7 in time trouble.

Caruana - Karjakin was interesting and imbalanced, but both players played exceedingly accurately. Draw.

Bronkenstein's picture

Yes, french sidelines are the way to go against sub - 2800s =) On a serious note, Magnus did exactly what he should do against Vallejo, he certainly didn´t want to discuss some 20+ moves long critical lines today.

Morley's picture

I am surprised that Vallejo caved in to Carlsen in both games, in this fashion. Granted, Carlsen played well, but Vallejo fought tooth and nail against both Anand and Aronian, against whom he has scored three draws. Carlsen must be in his head.

Bronkenstein's picture

Just a brief parallel - Vishy played his 2nd game against Vallejo too ´academicaly´ - very long theoretical line, and not really much to do after they ran out of theory, compared to MCs quite offbeat opening choice (and risk taking in some other games...) - but it´s not just openings or just Vallejo. Magnus is simply in much better form ATM, same as Caruana.

choufleur's picture

Thanks for the chess lesson. An acute comments : "both players played exceedingly accurately. Draw."
exceedingly accurately ?! LOL
Thanks for giving the result again.

Morley's picture

You're welcome!

Tom Servo's picture

Wow, you are able to read computer evaluations like a pro! When you combine that skill with vague statements like "I think he played too passively, and let Carlsen [place his pieces on ideal squares" without any examples to prove your point, you seem like a real chess genius! It is true, you have us all in awe of your analysis! You should write chess books! XD

Morley's picture

You're welcome! I sure am popular today :-)

S3's picture

I get what you mean but Morley had a point. To amateur's eyes it looks like Vallejo played strangely passive. At the risk of following computer evaluations, Nd7f8 was crucial in this respect. It was not a necessary move and he could have done something active with Qb6 instead. After Nf8 he pretty much played defensive moves only and Carlsen had all the time in the world to prepare and carry out his K-side attack. Obviously Vallejo is a very strong player which makes me think he would have played more boldly against most other opponents.

Morley's picture

The other thing is Vallejo basically invited Carlsen to put his knight on e5 after he played the insipid Re7. Compare this knight to either of black's. Then, capturing on e5 gave Carlsen a key advanced passed pawn that is part of the reason the endgames would have been so bad for black. After 14. ... Nh7, the black knight remains on that square for the next 25+ moves. The forced mating line ends with capturing on that square, incidentally.

Morley's picture

I agree about Vallejo playing more boldly against another player. He played very aggressively against both Anand and Aronian, nearly beating Anand in their first game. After losing in the endgame in his first game against Carlsen, he probably was feeling over-defensive.

hakapika's picture

No great game by Carlsen today, just "good enough" for the win.
Both Caruana and Aronian can still win the tournament - Carlsen having the toughest program left.
But still: Carlsen seems to have the edge.

Tom Servo's picture

Your analysis of the situation is awesome!

cmling's picture

I think the time control is rather stupid. 90 minutes for 40 moves with no increment? I am surprised the players accepted it.

Morley's picture

They do have an increment, but instead of the usual 30 seconds it is 10 seconds.

h8dgeh0g's picture

increment starts on move 41

chill's picture

Anand was gracious enough not to test Aronian in time trouble. Aronian is not 2800+ for nothing. His opponents fear him

Coco Loco's picture

Graciousness and fear are different things.

sen's picture

recently anand approach is some what in predicable pattern on not taking much risk ,allowing all openents to try bit extra and make mistake bythemselves.Where is the fear factor comes into picture ?

RG13's picture

As far past his prime as Anand is, even the top players are still happy to draw with him. The World Champion is still dangerous!

Kole's picture

And another bad day for Carlsen Haters.

rogge's picture

Too bad, cheers!

Morley's picture

They sure have a lot of them, don't they?

S3's picture

Actually I don't see a single one of them in the comments so far yet bondegnasker, Septimus, Guillame, Arkan, Rogge and you all manage to think and write about those evil haters. Those comments look like wasted space and time to me, but hey, if you need that to be happy go ahead.

S3's picture

I forgot to mention Kole who mentioned those imaginary antagonists the clearest, my apologies to him. By the way, haters can always look forward to tomorrow when an off form Karjakin will still win his game.

Anonymous's picture

But hey, don't be too disappointed if Carlsen pulls off another win tomorrow.

S3's picture

I will be a little bit sad, for about 2-3 minutes, but not because I hate anyone. And it will also depend on the quality of the game of course.

Septimus's picture

Yeah right...given half a chance S3 will probably burn down Carlsen's house.

S3's picture

I think you'd burn down mine..any point in these exchanges?

rogge's picture

"A clown with a personality disorder", yeah, that works. Hey, clown, get some sleep now.

S3's picture

Rogge, please read chessvibes terms and conditions and respect the rules of the site you use. Try it :-)

rogge's picture

2.30 am, Sitzkrieg, are you out of work? You've been banned from chess sites several times, troll, I haven't :) Get a life.

S3's picture
Septimus's picture

S3 is a well known forum troll/Carlsen hater.

Niima's picture

Actually, together with Thomas, he is one of the more reasonable commentators on this forum.

Anonymous's picture

Thomas does deserve some respect for his comments, well at least he likes to back up his opinion with some (mostly related) facts. In my opinion, S3 is just an angry person.

redivivo's picture

You've got to be kidding if you anoint S3 as one of the more reasonable commentators here :-)

S3's picture

Don't be jealous redivivo, perhaps he was just being nice. I thought it was a sweet thing to say. So thanks :-)

Tom Servo's picture

We all need to be happy. Don't you feel a need to be happy? Or are you a robot? LOL

Tom Servo's picture

We all need to be happy. Don't you feel a need to be happy? Or are you a robot? LOL

Morley's picture

I was referring to the number of bad days Carlsen haters have (i.e., Carlsen wins) not the number of haters or their posts.

S3's picture

Fair enough.

Guillaume's picture

I was referring to the other S3. The one whose opinion on Carlsen is so valuable that dozens of his comments should be expected on each page here.

S3's picture

I pressume you think your talk about haters is much more valuable than talking about chess. Just don't pretend to be surprised if some responds.

Guillaume's picture

I never talked about "haters". Repeating this lie is all you have it seems.


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