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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sinquefield Chess Cup: Carlsen wins with a No-Draw Flourish

Chess Blog for Daily Chess News and Trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013  

Hi everyone, 

SAINT LOUIS (September 16, 2013) -- World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen brought home a $70,000 souvenir after his first visit to the United States: The country’s finest prize in chess, the Sinquefield Cup. But he left America with an encore that made every last penny count.

With the showdown between U.S. No. 1 Hikaru Nakamura and reigning U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky already adjourned in a draw, Carlsen sat just a half-point away from the tournament’s top prize – and in front of a deadlocked board opposite World No. 2 Levon Aronian.

Aronian, trailing by a point, would earn third place and $30,000 regardless of a loss or draw – though a win promised playoffs. So he decided to probe the impossible-looking position while Carlsen, his own pieces frozen in tension, seemed content to wait the Armenian out. The white king moved idly back and forth on the back rank, waiting for Aronian to look the other way.

And he did – just the slightest. Aronian’s pressing, through a series of weakening king moves, tipped Carlsen just the smallest of advantages. And when Aronian decided he could find no way into the white camp, he offered a draw – and to everyone’s shock, Carlsen denied it. The half-point would have earned first place outright, $70,000 and the inaugural Cup, but Carlsen had found something much more valuable: the path to victory.

The win padded his lead to a full point (4.5/6), closing the strongest tournament on American soil with a dazzler. Nakamura (3.5/6) was forced to settle for the second place prize of $50,000 after his draw with Kamsky (1.5/6) on Sunday afternoon added no pressure to Carlsen.

“The final margin of victory was a little flattering,” Carlsen said. (Read the full report on the official website.)

The last round was an absolute sitter with the fantastic game between Carlsen and Aronian. You can replay the game with Chess King that includes Grandmaster Akobian Varuzhan's annotations.

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