Fabiano Caruana on his performance at the Sinquefield Cup and World Cup

LSC News

I’ve just returned home after a month of chess, starting in St. Louis for the Sinquefield Cup and ending at the World Cup in Baku. I’m very happy I got the chance to play in two excellently organized events, but disappointed my own chess wasn’t up to the same high standards.

I traveled to St. Louis after a long break from tournament play, but felt optimistic coming off a convincing win in Dortmund. Unfortunately, things started going wrong from the very beginning. I was soundly outplayed in the first round by the future winner of the tournament, Levon Aronian. In the second round I met Magnus Carlsen, who I always feel motivated to play my best chess against. The game was a complicated seesaw battle where we both let our clocks run too low. In mutual time trouble I gained the upper hand but let the advantage slip, and in a roughly balanced position one move before the time control, with seconds on the clock, I made a reflex capture which turned out to be a huge blunder, losing instantly.

I managed to stabilize things in the middle of the tournament, and if I hadn’t squandered my chances against Grischuk and especially against Wesley So, I would have ended on a respectable score, but 3.5/9 was all I got.

Levon was the very deserving winner, never showing a moment of weakness during the event.

The organization, as in previous years, was phenomenal, not only for the players but for the spectators, who are treated to a professional commentary and viewing experience.

It is a rare sight to see people playing speed chess on the stone tables outside the chess club day and night, or to see the huge amount of chess fans following the games from inside the club or the Hall of Fame, asking us for autographs and photos after the games.

I was able to enjoy a few days of relaxation in St. Louis after the event, which included some casual speed chess, bughouse, wagers, and salsa. In the latter I got some helpful pointers from Maurice Ashley and my manager, Lawrence Trent, who is rumored to be a grandmaster in dancing.

On a final note from St. Louis, Team Rex, of which I was a part, soundly defeated Team Randy during the Ultimate Moves, exacting revenge for our defeat last year.

After that I took the long flight over to Baku, Azerbaijan in preparation for the World Cup. Two years ago I made it to the quarterfinals before being knocked out by Vachier Lagrave. This year I was forced to exit one round prior, after being defeated in convincing fashion by the local hero, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

The 2016 Olympiad will also be held in Baku, so I was pleased to see how good the conditions for the players are. The organization took extra measures to ensure against cheating, which in my view is a necessary thing, and which was no more than a minor inconvenience to the players.

Now I’m looking forward to resting and recovering my strength for my next tournament, Millionaire Chess, one of the strongest open events in history, which starts October 8 in Las Vegas.

On November 9 I will join Liberty Science Center CEO, Paul Hoffman for an event in Jersey City where I will play 22 chess games simultaneously. The event will benefit Liberty Science Center’s new Chess Works! program, and other science, technology, engineering, and math initiatives.

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