Alexander Grischuk vs Fabiano Caruana, C43, Petrov’s Defense, Modern Attack
2018 Chess Candidates Tournament, Round 14
Caruana won the Candidates Tournament! He defeated Alexander Grischuk in the last round and he finished in clear first! He will be challenging Magnus Carlsen for the title later this year. Coming into the last round the situation on the scoreboard was still very complex, and three players had a practical chance to win. Fabiano was at 8/13, and in clear first, but Mamedyarov and the last challenger for the title, Sergey Karjakin, were following just behind him with only half a point less (7.5/13).
That meant that all three players had to win to secure 1st place, but Caruana was the only one who got to decide his own faith, and if he won, the other results would bear no significance on his place on the scoreboard. Karjakin drew quickly, and virtually gave up his chances at the title, and Mamedyarov accepted a draw in a position in which he stood some chances. He had a bishop and three pawns against a rook and a pawn. But he drew, which meant that Caruana only needed a draw for clear first.
At that moment his game against Grischuk was already very one sided and he stood very well, almost completely winning. He apparently asked for a draw but Alexander declined! That meant that he had to prove his dominance and push for a win.
They played a sideline in the Petrov’s defense (Russian game) and exchanged the queens early on. Grischuk went on to blunder a pawn unnecessarily, and Caruana spent the remainder of the game exploiting that! He had a passed c pawn which he managed to turn into Grischuk’s demise after more than 30 moves of maneuvering and improvement.
This concludes the 2018 Candidates, a tournament which brought a lot of exciting games and theoretical battles, but also proved the fact that modern chess has become a professional sport, more so than an attacking battle of minds. There were several players who shown no fighting spirit and drew several games in a row, even though the 1st place is the only thing that matters, and coming in second is as good as being last. Caruana didn’t play like that in a single game. He fought, risked and played imaginative chess which gave him every right to be the next challenger for the title of the World Chess Champion!
Final Standings after round 14:
Fabiano Caruana 9/14
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 8/14
Sergey Karjakin 8/14
Ding Liren 7.5/14
Vladimir Kramnik 6.5/14
Alexander Grischuk 6.5/14
Wesley So 6/14
Levon Aronian 4.5/14