Reports | October 12, 2012 21:19

Carlsen, Caruana, Karjakin win in penultimate round Masters Final

The screen above the "aquarium" showing Friday's results

In a spectacular 9th round of the Masters Final in Bilbao all games were won by the white player. Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana are still tied for first after they won against Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian respectively. Sergey Karjakin beat Paco Vallejo. In tomorrow's last round, which starts half an hour earlier, the pairings are Vallejo - Caruana, Aronian - Carlsen and Anand - Karjakin.

The screen above the "aquarium" showing Friday's results | Photos courtesy of @bilbaomasters & the official website

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 organizers of the Masters Final in Sao Paulo and Bilbao are not taking one, not two but three separate measures to stimulate "attractive" and "fighting" chess, whatever that may be. There's the Corsica/Sofia rule against early draw offers, there's the 3-1-0 (football) scoring system and, last but not least, there's the fast time control. At this tournament the rate of play is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 60 minutes for the remaining moves with a 10-second increment. This means that the players have basically half an hour less than they're used to, to reach 40.

Lots and lots of spectators | Photo thanks to David Kaufmann, who has many more on his blog

Today and earlier in the tournament we saw what this can lead to. Some players tend to take more risks (Aronian) and others tend to make decisive mistakes in timetrouble (Vallejo). The two "Cs" have coped with the circumstances the best, and are still tied for first going into the last round. Carlsen won against Anand and Caruana defeated Aronian. Karjakin moved to 4th place by beating Vallejo.

The game between the world's highest rated player and the World Champion was a relatively short affair. Anand said:

Sometimes you lose control because of one mistake and sometimes it's very hard to repair the damage.

Anand suffers his first loss after eight draws

The Indian referred to his 17th move. At that point Black was still doing fine.

PGN string

Incidentally, this result means that Carlsen is now one win away from breaking Garry Kasparov's rating record of 2851. In the live ratings the Norwegian now has 2848 and a win against Aronian yields 4.7 points.

Carlsen vs Anand, 1-0 in 30

Caruana kept pace. The Italian, who is two years younger than Carlsen, won a good game against Aronian. The Armenian played a remarkable piece sacrifice. 

PGN string

Fabiano Caruana, still joint first with Carlsen

Commentator Leontxo Garcia asked the players if it would be a good advice to chess fans "to analyse the game at home deeply". Aronian replied:

I guess it would be a good exercise for myself! I tend to sacrifice and lose games because of that!

Poor Vallejo played another good game, and spoilt it in timetrouble again. In a Winawer French the grandmaster from Menorca managed to become more dangerous on the queenside than Karjakin was on the kingside. In a winning position, a strange queen manoeuvre was the introduction to a wrong plan, executed in serious timetrouble.

PGN string

Sergey Karjakin wins his first game

A visibly disappointed, not to say devastated, Vallejo said:

I was totally winning but I played very badly at the end. Chess is about winning and losing and I lost.


Francisco "Paco" Vallejo Pons

Karjakin, about the complications in the middlegame:

The position is completely crazy, we are both risking.


It's difficult to do anything about timetrouble errors. It's the fastest tournament of the year but the tempo doesn't seem to suit me well.

Carlsen or Caruana, who will it be?


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 1-1 Aronian
Caruana 1-1 Anand   Anand 1-1 Caruana
Carlsen 1-1 Karjakin   Karjakin 1-1 Carlsen
Round 4 28.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 9 12.10.12 17:00 CET
Caruana 3-0 Vallejo   Karjakin 3-0 Vallejo
Carlsen 1-1 Aronian   Carlsen 3-0 Anand
Karjakin 1-1 Anand   Caruana 3-0 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 9 standings (football)


Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 9 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

Aronian - "Lost the game to save a pawn."

Carabanchel's picture

If Carlsen wins tomorrow, will he exceed the Kasparow's peak elo, 2851 points?

Anonymous's picture


Bronkenstein's picture

Yes, he will get bit less than 5 Elo, while being 2848 on live rating list at this moment.

PS He is black against Levon tomorrow.

Soviet School's picture

In the grading system would Carlsen score more gain in Elo for a win with black? Or is it independent of colour. I read that Kaufmann estimated white advantage as being worth about 35 Elo points statistically

Thomas's picture

Nope - the Elo system doesn't make a difference between black and white. It would be hard to find the proper "correction factor" - 35 points may be a statistical mean (I vaguely remember people suggesting 50 points), but it probably differs a lot per player.
Anyway, the number of white and black games tends to balance out in the long term - except maybe in team events if a player deliberately gets excess games with either color. It's perfectly balanced in double round robins - so if Carlsen got an extra reward for a win with black against Aronian in Bilbao, he should also get extra punishment for his draw with white in Sao Paulo against the same Aronian.

Carabanchel's picture

Thx! With Carlsen we are still in the virtual classification. I can't find if Kasp may have exceeded virtually his own 2851 (games after o before reaching his rating peak).

Excalibur's picture

I disagree that Carlsen's middle game play is "without peer". Its hyperbole, especially in sharp middlegames, I can think of at least 5-10 players that are better. However, in the endgame, he is the best.

redivivo's picture

"I can think of at least 5-10 players that are better"

I don't think it's easy to find at least 5-10 players that are better middlegame players than any #1 at any point in time, and there are certainly not at least 5-10 players that are better than Carlsen in the middlegame. In the opening certainly, but not in the middlegame.

Anonymous's picture

wow Whatever happnes tomorrow...todays game Carlsen Anand left a mark on my mind. Just look at the final position. Its chess in a whole other class. Really amazing stuff. Good luck to all the players but I'm still shaking my head at this game. wow!

mike magnan's picture

great games great times.I wrote the comment above.

Septimus's picture

Not too long ago Carlsen favored the highly theoretical Dragon as one of his main weapons. The guy can do theory if he wants.

noyb's picture

Wonderful games by Carlsen and Caruana today. The future looks to be in good hands!

Jambow's picture

By move twenty Carlsen had all of Anands pawns in the middle blockading his own major pieces on the queen side and then methodically went to work on his isolated king, very nice game! Kasparov's once seemingly unobtainable elo is just a hairs breadth away and by a kid who has yet to play for the world championship. I move FIDE allow any player who maintains a higher elo than the reigning WC for one continous year has the right to challenge the champion directly based on that criterea alone. Magnus or Aronian have more than proven they deserve a shot imho.

Well I had Nakamura as the next one over 2800 but I think Caruana is by far the most likely as he seems to be improving at a very quick rate and his game is good every where. Carlsen may be challenged by the future players rather than those from behind him besides Aronian anyway. Good days for chess fans.

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen preparing a black invasion

rogge's picture

And yet another bad day for the... Clowns :-)

valg321's picture

can't wait for the Diaz cartoon on this one

atheist_bishop's picture

Can anyone tell me... in the Carlsen-Anand game... why not 5... Qg4?

Anonymous's picture

Carlsen is nothing special. He's just the first of the young-guns. Many other players who have grown up with Rybka and Houdini will be just as good if not better. Wait and see.

Anonymous's picture

" Carlsen is nothing special " !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! remember this one !!! SUPERB COMMENT . So laughable that i could cry

abhi's picture

where s our friend Reality Check. Did he commit suicide as his God Anand lost to none other than the mediocre Carlsen :)

Jimbo's picture

Any idea which is considered a better inflation-adjusted rating, Kasparov's 2851 in 1999 or Fischer's 2785 in 1972? In Fischer's day, high 2500s GMs were the norm, and 2600+ were a rarity. Now, 2750+ are a dime a dozen. Carlsen has to exceed 2900 before even starting to come into the reckoning.

Tarjei's picture

It's impossible to make a direct comparison between two different eras as they faced a totally different pool of players.

The thing with Kasparov (and Fischer for that matter), was that he was so much higher rated than the rest, at least 50 points down to number 2 and even more to the rest. That means it was much more difficult to maintain the high rating.

Carlsen gap down to number 2 Aronian is growing, but as his competitors are closer in rating than what Kasparov's was, it's "easier" to maintain the high rating.

On the other hand, Magnus has many more competitors than what Kasparov had, there are just too many top players which makes it more difficult to remain the world #1.

It's just a matter of time before the 2851 record will be broken, but in my opinion, it doesn't mean as much as what many people think.

Raj's picture

Sensible realistic comment :)

Anonymous's picture

Not a question of rating. Watch Fisher's games at the same age and you'll understand that Carlsen belongs to the same category

Pertinax's picture

I think the results of the matchday are incorrect.

Pertinax's picture schedule I mean.

Peter Doggers's picture

Indeed, somehow I did 1-1 three times instead of 3-0. Corrected now. Thanks.

Walkman's picture

you really believe that carlsen is not overprepared and comes empty handed at the board? He is a huge theorician, born and raised in the era of chessbase and rybka. He is not a creator like korchnoi or geller, but he is as much prepared as karpov was, even more so in sidelines.

ShockeR's picture

The young guns are finally taking the creme de la creme by a storm !

go go Carslen !!!

Thomas's picture

I wonder if a faster time control can really "stimulate "attractive" and "fighting" chess, whatever that may be". One might think so because rapid and blitz games tend to have more decisive results, But here it may go either way: It can increase the blunder rate (does this make chess attractive and fighting?), but it can also increase the 'safety rate'. Short on time and with the choice between a promising but risky and a safe continuation, players may rather choose the latter.
The London GP had a more generous time control, particularly after move 40. It still had plenty of decisive games, and (some) players still got into time trouble.
The faster time control might be more spectator-friendly. With games starting at 5:00PM local time, many people can watch during the week after work (in London, Wijk aan Zee, ... games start earlier in the afternoon). At the same time, the games don't last too long into the evening - which is spectator- and player-friendly (and organizer-friendly as tournament staff also has less working hours).

Thomas's picture

Tweet by "lladini" (Spanish chess journalist David Llada):
"Paco Vallejo has announced today he will retire from competitive chess. He was very upset after his painful loss against Karjakin :-( "
Then a follow-up:
"I hope Vallejo will change his mind after some rest. Spanish chess can't afford to lose Shirov and Vallejo in the same year!"

Hmm, a while ago Ivanchuk had also retired at least for a few days.

misja's picture

Dear Thomas,
Do you know what the comment about Shirov refers to?
Thank you,

Tarjei's picture

Shirov has changed back to his homeland Latvia.

Chess Fan's picture

Thomas, you are very funny in this comment. Thanks!

joker's picture

Vallejo - what is this rubbish about retiring? ("Pero he decidido que me retiro del ajedrez de competición por un tiempo indefinido")

You admitted yourself that this time control doesn't quite suit you and you are playing the best players in the world. Don't leave!

chesshire cat's picture

Players not in the absolute elite often, actually usually, take some heavy beatings when they participate with the very top guns, at least at first, until they manage to raise their game (if at all). But it's all good experience, Paco!!

Thomas's picture

I don't think Vallejo got upset _that_ he lost against Karjakin but _how_ he lost ... . It must have been easier to accept his losses against Carlsen where the opponent simply and predictably played better - that falls under "good experience".
There seems to be hope for Spanish chess: I am not too fluent in Spanish but the original 'por un tiempo indefinido' sounds like "until further notice"/"until I change my mind again" and doesn't necessarily mean "for the rest of my life". Hence David Llada is a bit too sensationalist or pessimistic? Others (e.g. Morozevich, but also Leko) have taken breaks from competitive chess and came back.
But in the short term, how will it affect Vallejo's mood and motivation in today's key game (for the entire tournament) against Caruana?

joker's picture

Let's hope "indefinitely" means Paco comes back sooner rather than later. It seems he is now talking of six months and he also speaks of honoring pre-existing commitments so it may well be on level with Ivanchuk. Still it's sad and slightly baffling and I agree it may well affect the last round.

atheist_bishop's picture

Yes, yes.. you are all witty, but what is wrong with 5... Qg4 in Carlsen-Anand game?

Anonymous's picture

Well it's certainly playable because the queen hits both g2 and e4 but the problem is white simply castles and if Qxe4 then white developes more pieces while hitting the queen, so black loses at least one tempo. Black hasn't developed a single piece. If black doesn't take on e4 then the queen is just misplaced and it can be chased away very easily

joker's picture

Agreed. Although at this level it is definitely not playable and the game would've ended in 10 more moves. Black's queenside and king are too vulnerable.

atheist_bishop's picture

Thank you for your kind answer.

Chess Fan's picture

I think that after this win over Anand, I would personally refer to Magnus as the "Great One". He should truly participate in the World Championship cycle, and after this, I truly think he deserves his sky high Elo ratings and the reputaiton as the best player in the world. No one beats Anand like this when it matters. He has to be very very very good, like World Number 1, much above anyone else. I am beginning to suspect that he is truly better than EVEN Aronian and Kramnik (but he needs to prove that in a World Championship match). I will closely follow this great player also from now on. Magnus Carlsen, I truly respect his chess skills now. I am his chess fan also! My respect and loyalty for Anand's chess and as a human being will not change. It has been earned over decades and he rightfully deserves it.

Septimus's picture

Well said. Agree with you on both accounts.

Septimus's picture

To be fair, the kind of form Carlsen is in at present, I don't think anybody can get away with anything. They say that you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, but it looks like this is exactly what Carlsen is doing to his opponents. To me it seems that his opponents are losing the psychological battle. First Caruana and now Anand.


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