Fabiano Caruana Wins Round 13 to Recapture Lead in Berlin

Two major contenders going into the final round of the 2018 Candidates: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and our own Fabiano Caruana, Photo Brian C. Glover
Fabiano Caruana won a crucial game today against Levon Aronian, recapturing the lead in the Candidates tournament in Berlin. After a disappointing round 12, where Fabiano lost to one of his key rivals, Sergey Karjakin, his chances of earning the right to challenge Magnus Carlsen plummeted. The rest day was well timed as Fabiano came back with a stunning Ruy Lopez victory over Levon Aronian to recapture the tournament lead.

[Event "FIDE Berlin Candidates"]
[Date "2018.03.26"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C88"]
[WhiteElo "2784"]
[BlackElo "2794"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Armenia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "ARM"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d3
d6 9. Bd2 Bg4 10. c3 d5 11. h3 Bh5 12. Qe2 Rb8 13. Bg5 dxe4 14. dxe4 h6 15. Bc1
Bg6 16. Nbd2 Nh5 17. Nf1 Bc5 18. g3 Kh7 19. Kg2 Qe7 20. Bc2 Rfd8 21. b4 Bb6 22.
a4 Nf6 23. Nh4 Qe6 24. Bd3 Bh5 25. g4 Bxg4 26. hxg4 Nxg4 27. Nf5 Nxf2 28. Bc2
g6 29. N1e3 gxf5 30. exf5 Qf6 31. Qxf2 e4 32. Rh1 Rd6 33. Bxe4 Rg8+ 34. Kf1 Ne5
35. Qf4 c6 36. axb5 Rg5 37. bxa6 Qd8 38. f6+ Ng6 39. Rxh6+ 1-0

This gives Fabiano 8/13, a half point ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergei Karjakin, both on 7.5/13. Fabiano Caruana told Dylan Quercia that the last couple rounds have turned his attitude around: "Losing that last game actually helped my outlook a lot. I was kind of too nervous trying to hold onto my lead and it ruined my play for a few games. So I felt much better before today." Normally, the American's narrow lead going into the final would be even better- as long as Fabiano doesn't lose the final round, he'd get a playoff at minimum. However, there will be no playoffs to determine the challenger in Berlin. Three math tiebreaks (Head to Head/Most Wins/Sonnenborn-Berger) will determine the tournament winner in case of a tie for first. If Caruana ties with Karjakin, he'd lose on tiebreak because he lost one of their head to head battles. If Fabiano ties with Mamedyarov, he'd also lose on the tiebreak (Sonnenborn-Berger) because Caruana defeated players with lower scores than the Azeri Super Grandmaster. For a detailed breakdown of the scenarios and probabilities, see Eric Issacson's blog. Issacson puts Fabiano Caruana's odds of winning the event at a little over 50%, but his model does not account for how high the stakes are for Karjakin and Mamedyarov. It may be a pick 'em. https://twitter.com/USChess/status/978350157057150976 Mamedyarov kept himself in the hunt with a tricky find against Alexander Grischuk, in a position that seemed headed for a draw.

[Event "FIDE Berlin Candidates"]
[Date "2018.03.26"]
[White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Black "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D77"]
[WhiteElo "2809"]
[BlackElo "2767"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Azerbaijan"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "AZE"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d5 6. c4 dxc4 7. Na3 c3 8. bxc3
c5 9. Re1 Nc6 10. Bb2 Nd5 11. Qc2 cxd4 12. Nxd4 Nf6 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. c4 Bf5
15. Qc1 Qc7 16. Nc2 Rab8 17. Bc3 Bxc2 18. Qxc2 Ne8 19. h4 c5 20. Red1 Bxc3 21.
Qxc3 Nf6 22. Bf3 h5 23. Rab1 Rxb1 24. Rxb1 Rb8 25. Rb5 Ne8 26. Qe3 Rxb5 27.
cxb5 Nd6 28. a4 c4 29. Kg2 c3 30. Bc6 Qa5 31. Qc5 a6 32. e4 axb5 33. axb5 Kh7
34. e5 Nxb5 35. e6 Qa3 36. Qxb5 c2 37. exf7 Kg7 38. Be4 c1=Q 39. Qe8 1-0


Watch the Candidates final round on Tuesday, on a variety of channels covered by GM Rogers, as well as Today In Chess, hosted by the Saint Louis Chess Club. 

Look for a final report from the scene by Dylan Quercia tomorrow at https://twitter.com/berlin2018llc

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