November 7, 2014

My thought about Sinquefield Cup 2014

The Sinquefield Cup 2014 was the strongest event the world has ever seen with an average Elo of 2802. Though it's been almost two months since the tournament is over, we think it is appropriate to share the article with you. The reason: the writer of this article K Priyadarshan was there at the venue of the tournament and has some interesting facts, pictures and in depth game analysis to share with you! 

"Depressing" when you hear these words from the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, you may think that he is referring to his performance, but he was referring to Fabiano Caruana's play in the Sinquefield Cup 2014, from August 27th to September 7, 2014. This event was held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, in St.Louis, Missouri, which is also known as the Chess Capital of America. 

The event was the strongest tournament in the history by ratings and all the 6 players were in the top 10 world rankings. The participants were Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Veselin topalov.

To get this event started in the most trendiest way possible, Fabiano Caruana took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in front of the Guinness Record Holding World's Largest Chess Piece, and also with a large number of chess aficionados cheering him as he took on that dare devil act :)

There was an autograph session before the event, and which attracted around 200-250 people, and I was one of them, who managed to get the autographs of all these legends, and this is one of the most valuable memorabilia I have collected in my life so far.

You can look at the detailed tournament reports of this event in various popular chess websites, so I don't want to bore you with another tournament report. I just wanted to share with you, a few key games from this tournament, and my take on every player from the event.

This tournament will not just be known as the strongest tournament in the history, but also for the remarkable feat achieved Fabio "Fantabulous" Caruana, for his initial streak of 7/7, and then ending with 8.5/10, and a 35 point rating gain, cementing his place as the World No.2, and as a direct threat to Carlsen in the future.

World No.2 and the man of the tournament Fabiano Caruana

Carlsen came into this tournament, as the defending champion, and the winner of the first edition of this spectacular tournament last year. Things didn't go as planned for him, and many possible reasons can be attributed to this, and if I can guess the most important one was the controversies surrounding his World Championship Match with Vishy Anand in November 2014. It definitely looked like, that controversy took some of his time, focus, and energy off the chess board. 5.5/10 is a good score for any other player in the planet, except for Carlsen, as he lost 7.2 rating points.

Something is not right! World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Topalov was the oldest player in the field, and this was jokingly asked about how he feels about it in the press conference, for which his comments, were full of wit and intelligence. He started in the worst possible way with 0/2, and rebounded well, to score 5/10, and finish 3rd and pocket $50,000. He said, being older, makes you forget things easily, and that helped him to forget his terrible start, and made it possible for a quick comeback!

I am coming back! The comeback star Veselin Topalov

Aronian is clearly the most charismatic and friendly player in this field, as irrespective of his result, he shook hands with fans, signed autographs, and interacted with fans, showing his sportsmanship! He had a below par performance of scoring 4/10, and in the process, dropped out of the elite 2800 rating club. Aronian pulled of an miraculous draw against Carlsen in the 2nd half of the tournament.

There is always another opportunity to show my class! Levon Aronian

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave aka MVL, the soft spoken French star, was technically the least experienced in this field, as he hasn't played in as many super tournaments as the other participants. He started of well holding the World Champion to a draw, in a crazy Scotch, but he was unable to fight against the mighty Caruana and lost both his games against him. MVL was just stunned by the quality of Caruana's play in the tournament, and during the press conference, he said that, he hasn't seen anyone even Carlsen, make basically no mistakes, combined with an incredible opening preparation. I am pretty sure MVL, would have learnt a lot from this tournament, and would comeback even stronger in the future events.

When the going gets tough! Smile a lot :) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave aka MVL

Hikaru Nakamura, the St.Louis Superstar, and the only American player in the field, would pray to god, to give him short term memory less, so that he can forget his disastrous performance in front of the local supporters, as he managed to score only 3/10, and also lost 18 crucial elo points. Hikaru was trying too hard in few games to win, and it clearly backfired.

Home pressure was too much! Hikaru Nakamura

The organization of the event, was nothing but spectacular, with 3 sets of commentary teams, providing commentary in different places. The online commentary was handled by Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, and Maurice Ashley. The commentary in Lesters Sports Bar(I think the only sports bar, in the world, to telecast chess :) )was handled by Ben Finegold and Alejandro Ramirez. Lester's also served as the press room, where various journalists were frantically creating tournament reports, for the various media sites, they represented. The commentary in the World Chess Hall of Fame, was handled by Varuzhan Akobian and Ian Rogers.

There were lot of side events during the tournament, and one of the most important one was the "Burning Candles" during the rest day, which was basically playing chess with burning candles of various sizes being used as pieces, and you have to be alert enough to know, which candle represents which piece. If a candle is completely burnt, you cannot move it anymore. If a candle gets stuck to the square, and if your unable to lift it, that means, that piece is doomed to be in that square, for the rest of the game. The GM were super enthusiastic about this innovative and novel idea.

If I have to mention about the other exciting side events, it would take me another article, so I would like to better not go into them! I would like to conclude my report saying that, I was blessed to watch the chess history in the making by the incredible performance of Caruana unfolding live in my front of eyes, as I live quite close to the St.Louis Chess Club, and I managed to visit the club few days, and saw these superstars live in action, and made me super excited chess! I was not depressed as Carlsen was on Caruana's performance :)

Some random dude named Priyadharshan with the tournament winner Caruana and his coach Chuchelov. Pic Credit:Sabrina Chevannes, to whom I paid 50$ royalty to get this snap :D :D

All the players pictures are credited to Lenart Ootes and CCSCSL

About the author
Name:Priyadharshan Kannappan

Rating: 2460 
Title : IM, 2GM norm holder 
DOB : 01-12-1993 
From :Madurai,TamilNadu

Winner of 11 International Medals.Loves to watch movies and listen to music. The books I read are mainly on History,Detective Novels and Biographies. Follows all the developments in Indian Politics. Studying B.A Marketing in Lindenwood University in Missouri,USA and also the captain of the chess team. You can follow me on twitter and can contact through

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