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.

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.

Mamedyarov kept himself in the hunt with a tricky find against Alexander Grischuk, in a position that seemed headed for a draw.

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


  1. Ding isn’t mentioned in the article or poll although he has not been eliminated yet either, is only slightly behind the other 3, and is ahead on the 1st tiebreak.

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