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Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 (Rapid)

Carlsen wins in Zurich even after poor final day rapid performance

Lev Aronian beat Magnus Carlsen in the second round of the rapid. Photo ©

Lev Aronian beat Magnus Carlsen in the second round of the rapid. Photo © |

Magnus Carlsen was overwhelming favourite to win the Zurich Chess Classic over all having a two point advantage going into the final day's rapid segment but he almost didn't manage it. The day instead belonged to Fabiano Caruana who won the rapid with 4/5 half a point clear of Hikaru Nakamura who ended Levon Aronian's chances to catch Carlsen. The classical score obtained in the first five days counted double that of the rapid tournament.

Carlsen started the day with a very convincing win with black against Boris Gelfand but that was really the last good news of the day for him. Levon Aronian, who also started with a win, beat Carlsen in a very controlled way in the 2nd round, a good opening led to big advantages on the board and clock which he finished nicely. Carlsen had the opportunity to strike back with a win in the 3rd round with a big advantage on board and clock against Hikaru Nakamura but he slowed down a never really found a winning plan. Apparently he left the board looking extremely annoyed and the following game against Fabiano Caruana again he got himself in trouble even after at least equalising from the opening and went down to a loss. This left Carlsen still needing a draw to win the whole tournament. Anand had no clue this was the case after having just drawn a marathon game against Gelfand. Only when Carlsen played down one of the most drawish variations of the Berlin did the penny drop.

Levon Aronian had moved within a point of Carlsen over all after beating him in round 2 but couldn't make anything of a good opening against Gelfand in the 3rd round and then against Nakamura in the 4th he overplayed his hand and went on to lose.

Fabiano Caruana won the rapid tournament with a 4/5 score and was briefly in contention to win the whole thing. He beat Nakamura in the 1st round, drew with Gelfand in the 2nd, ground down Anand (for his third loss in a row) in the 3rd before defeating Carlsen in the 4th and was even within striking distance of winning the event if Carlsen had lost his final game.

Hikaru Nakamura started the rapid poorly but picked up pace and confidence after than that beating Anand, escaping against Carlsen then winning his final two games against Aronian and Gelfand.

Viswanathan Anand normally does well in rapids but his three losses at the start (and he had to work hard to avoid it being a fourth against Gelfand) showed a man yet to fix his ailing game. I expect him to return to playing better chess but not in time for the candidates.

Final Standings: Carlsen 10, Caruana (second on SB tie-break), Aronian 9, Nakamura 7.5, Anand 5, Gelfand 4.5

Final Rapid Standings: Caruana 4/5, Nakamura 3.5, Aronian 3, Carlsen 2, Gelfand 1.5 and Anand 1.

Zurich CC Rapid Zurich SUI (SUI), 4-4 ii 2014 cat. XXII (2798)
1 2 3 4 5 6
1. Caruana, Fabiano g ITA 2781 * 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 4 3041
2. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2776 0 * 1 ½ 1 1 2951
3. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2826 ½ 0 * 1 ½ 1 3 2864
4. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2872 0 ½ 0 * 1 ½ 2 2711
5. Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2761 ½ 0 ½ 0 * ½ 2656
6. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2773 0 0 0 ½ ½ * 1 2563
Round 1 (February 4, 2014)
Caruana, Fabiano - Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0 44 A62 Benoni
Gelfand, Boris - Carlsen, Magnus 0-1 23 A58 Volga Gambit
Anand, Viswanathan - Aronian, Levon 0-1 44 A56 Old Indian Defence
Round 2 (February 4, 2014)
Caruana, Fabiano - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 51 B52 Sicilian Rossolimo
Nakamura, Hikaru - Anand, Viswanathan 1-0 26 A01 Larsen Opening
Aronian, Levon - Carlsen, Magnus 1-0 53 E06 Catalan
Round 3 (February 4, 2014)
Carlsen, Magnus - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 70 B51 Sicilian Rossolimo
Gelfand, Boris - Aronian, Levon ½-½ 39 E06 Catalan
Anand, Viswanathan - Caruana, Fabiano 0-1 70 B41 Sicilian Paulsen
Round 4 (February 4, 2014)
Caruana, Fabiano - Carlsen, Magnus 1-0 44 A05 Various
Nakamura, Hikaru - Aronian, Levon 1-0 78 A01 Larsen Opening
Anand, Viswanathan - Gelfand, Boris ½-½ 91 B92 Sicilian Najdorf with 6.Be2
Round 5 (February 4, 2014)
Aronian, Levon - Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ 42 A04 Dutch System
Carlsen, Magnus - Anand, Viswanathan ½-½ 35 C67 Ruy Lopez Berlin
Gelfand, Boris - Nakamura, Hikaru 0-1 49 A80 Dutch

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