Fabiano Caruana has dominated the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis in a way that almost defies belief. The Italo-American grandmaster, just 22 years old, reeled off seven straight wins against an elite field which included the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, as well as two Olympiad gold medal winners. The final scores out of 10 were as follows: Caruana 8½, Carlsen 5½, Topalov 5, Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave 4, Nakamura 3.
To my mind, the most astonishing fact of all is that in every round from one to nine, until he conceded a well-played draw in round ten, Caruana achieved a winning position. This kind of dominance has not been seen since the best days of Garry Kasparov or Bobby Fischer, with whom Caruana is increasingly being compared.
First of all, here is Caruana’s dramatic demolition of the world champion.
Carlsen-Caruana: Sinquefield Cup, St Louis
In this wild position, where White’s rook and knight have hacked their path into the very vitals of the black camp, Caruana now fights back with a series of moves which exploit the exposed situation of White’s king. 19 … Bg4 20 Qf1 Nd3 21 Qxd3 Rxf8 22 hxg4 Qxg4 23 Nf3 Qxg3 24 e5+ Kxh8 25 e6 Bb6+ 26 Kh1 Qg4 27 Qd6 Rd8 28 Qe5 Rd5 29 Qb8+ Kh7 30 e7 Qh5+ 31 Nh2 Rd1+ 32 Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33 Nf1 Qxf1+ 34 Kh2 Qg1+ White resigns
In his second encounter with the world champion Caruana was on the verge of an historic second victory.
Caruana-Carlsen: Sinquefield Cup, St Louis
Here Caruana continued with 32 Rd5 and his advantage soon evaporated. Instead 32 Rd7 would have given him every chance of victory. 32 … Ne3 33 Bxe3 fxe3 34 Be2 Bxh4 35 Rf5 Rxf5 36 exf5 Rd8 37 Rxd8+ Bxd8 38 Kg2 Kg7 39 Kf3 Kf6 40 Ke4 c4 41 Bxc4 Bb6 42 Bd3 Draw agreed
Caruana-Aronian: Sinquefield Cup, St Louis
White seems to be massing his forces on the kingside, but he drives home his advantage with an initial feint on the opposite wing. 29 Na5 Nxa5 30 Nxe5 Nb7 31 Nxg6 Qd8 32 e5 Rf5 33 f4 c5 34 Nh4 Rh5 35 Nf3 Kh7 36 Qg4 Rhf5 37 Nh4 Kh8 38 Nxf5 Rxf5 39 Qg6 Qe7 40 g4 Rf8 41 f5 Qe8 42 Qxe8 Rxe8 43 f6 Bf8 44 f7 Re7 45 Rf6 Nb6 46 Bxh6 Nd7 47 Ref1 cxb4 48 axb4 Bxh6 49 Rxh6+ Kg7 50 Rh5 Black resigns