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Fabiano Caruana vs Wesley So
World Championship Candidates (2018), Berlin GER, rd 1, Mar-10
Catalan Opening: General (E00)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ChessHigherCat: So played like a real amateur in that game. Look at the position 25. white to move. So has every single piece on the wrong side of the board and white has a killer attack all set up. 24....Bc4?? allowed Caruana to get rid of the very last defending piece (the rook on f8) and now any patzer can see that black is doomed.>

Look, I'm a real amateur. I know how real amateurs play. Not like this. (Super GMs don't usually play this way either, but that's another issue.)

24....Bc4 looks like a very clever way to bring the bishop back to defend the kingside. Unfortunately it didn't work.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: Of course So usually plays well but how slick is it to completely abandon your castle against one of the world's best tacticians? As soon as I saw 20...Qb6 I thought So was losing it. Such an obvious attack that lets Caruana defend and counterattack at the same time with 21. e4! and it's open house on the dark squares on So's kingside
Mar-11-18  CountryGirl: Checked this game with StockFish, and the software reckons Fabiano made zero inaccuracies and zero mistakes (and of course, zero blunders). Maybe Caruana has somehow mated with Stockfish, kind of like that silly movie, 'The shape of water'....? In any case his play was faultless.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: It is unclear why So threw in 3 ... Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Be7 as he has no database games in this line. He usually meets the Catalan with quick development followed by 6 ... dxc4 scoring well = Repertoire Explorer: Wesley So (black)

21. e4 was well-timed by Caruana, opening up the center, then the Kingside attack crashed through.

Go Wesley!

Mar-11-18  RiverBob: 13..Qc7 looks better. Just sit on the position. 13..b4 looks a bit nervous by Wesley.
Mar-11-18  QueentakesKing: Failed combination play by WS starting 15)--e5.
Mar-11-18  Ulhumbrus: 9...a5 moves a pawn in the opening. 10...Nh5 places a knight on the rim although it induces White's bishop to undevelop it gains no time as the knight also undevelops. However it also defeats the purpose of the opening, as the purpose of 3...Bb4+ is to induce Bd2.

13...b4?! may turn Black's queen side into a target instead of a weapon.

An alternative to 28...Bd4 is 28...Bd5 pinning the knight on e4.

The computer evaluations and analysis suggest that after 33 Re7 White has a winning attack. So does not wait for White to overcome the defence at some point but resigns. To quote B H Wood, a lesser player might have wanted to be shown. He sees it all. White is going to uncover his queen on to f7 by 34 Bh6 and Black has no satisfactory answer to the threat because eg after 33...Ra7 34 Bh6 uncovers White's queen on to not only the square f7 but on to the square f8 as well.

It seems reasonable to assume that So intended to cover all of White's threats and that he overlooked something which enabled White to overcome the defence at some point. One can only guess what that was.

Mar-11-18  morfishine: Another undecipherable gem by <Ulmumblerus>


Mar-11-18  Imran Iskandar: When I watched this live and saw Caruana play Re7, I was wondering what was so concrete about the position (other than Black's weak king) such that the engines were a whiteout.

Took me a while to see that the threat is Bh6, and there is no sensible defense with the queen is coming to f7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < Richard Taylor: <anarchist> You are a sad case, a pathetic excuse for an fill up much needed space.

How about just disappearing? You would thus greatly improve the world.>

What is wrong with you? It was just a joke.

He made a joke about drinking that was funny, and you come back with this crap?

It was YOU, not me, who celebrated the death of thousands of people on 9/11.

So if your words are true about anyone, it is YOU.

Mar-11-18  morfishine: <Richard Taylor> Whats up? I agree <john barleycorn> is an imbecilic, moronic, doofus, but <thegoodanarchist> is a fine fellow, one of the most respected members here at <CG>

What gives?


Mar-11-18  DansChessLounge: So's kingside was just too exposed! He didn't really fall victim to any tactical mistakes. For a video recap of the game check out Dan's Chess Lounge on YouTube.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <morfishine: <Richard Taylor> Whats up? I agree <john barleycorn> is an imbecilic, moronic, doofus, but <thegoodanarchist> is a fine fellow, one of the most respected members here at <CG> What gives? >

"My mind's not right".

I thought that <anarchist> was taking the piss with <barley>.


But then, as I have explained, a poet who is quite well known in the US on a site I was on urged that this was the wrong thing. Then I moved to obsessing over the whole issue until I realized I was just that, obsessed with the issue. (By then I think it was the invasion of Iraq).

Why did I say some of the things I did (I am addressing the anarchist)? It was an ego thing. I admit it. I had a feud with a friend of mine and we used to argue about 9/11 and terrorism ferociously. In other words we were two aging codgers trying to out do each other So I swung the other way.

As I said: "My mind's not right."

You and anarchist tell me who wrote that without using Americans you should know...If you think I don't value the US you are wrong. I am probably crazy but I would never kill anyone or celebrate it. Unless it was self or other defense and "in extremis" so to speak. (So I support, in theory, liberation movements: but such civil wars always get murky at best. Like the US Civil War they are terrible events...)

But Fischer did! The man they all love. He gloated excitedly on radio: "It just shows you, what goes around comes around." He by then hated the United States. He ended his life hating the US and ranting in Iceland. At the very end though, he knew he was and had always been unhappy. He said that the most important thing is human touch. Chess, being World Champion, at a deep level, meant nothing to him. Playing Spassky in Jugoslavia was a hollow event.

Or did he really hate the US? Was it the reflection of some trauma inside himself, as Travers Bickle (yes I listened to him) said, he was a self-hating Jew and he was not the first prominent person to be thus. Bickle had a point. I have been thinking, tormented, by these issues for some years now...

The statements Big Pawn used against me were either jokes or taken out of context or I wasn't well, I forget. I can explain them all but Big Pawn wouldn't listen, kept ranting I was a terrorist...He's probably a weed living on the streets of Louisiana picking up garbage and running to the library to use a computer between his visits to the looney hospital....

I shall restore the <anarchist> on your recommendation but <barley> at least needs to change his moniker...

PS I did make some rather glib statements about enjoying the "spectacle" or what we might call the simulacrum of 9/11...O.K. there was a bit of a sense that it was a kind of strike back. But there is no way I...I cant see myself ever actually killing another human being. Violence to others horrifies me. Guns and bombs etc are terrible things.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I spent a lot of time analyzing this game. I still haven't got to finding where So's error is (or all his errors are). It is not a clear transition. Caruana played well of course. But until a certain point So seems to be playing well. (Although for practical reasons retreating to e7 with the B is a bit refined, it is like that line in the Queens Indian with Ba6 and Bb4+ to interrupt White's central pressure etc...))
Mar-12-18  Fiona Macleod: It is what makes this game special
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: 10...Nh5

This position is known. In the game...

Mikhail Ulibin vs Mladen Palac
Open A (2011), Zagreb, rd 9, Apr-18
Catalan Opening: General (E00) 1/2-1/2

The following position arose after a little repetition ( ...Nh5 11. Bc1 Nhf6 12. Bf4 Nh5 13. Bc1 Nhf6 14. Nc3 )

click for larger view

The players agreed to a draw after
a4 15. ♕c2 dc4 16. e4 h6 17. d5 cd5 18. ed5 ♘d5 = The chances are about even though it appears white can maintain some initiative

In this Caruana v. So game, after Nh5 11. Bc1 Nhf6 Fabiano played 12. Nbd2 avoiding the repetition, with the following position:

click for larger view

Comparing the two diagrams, one can see white's intention is to transfer the Nd2 to the K side with the hopes of an attack (or at least pressure) on that side.

The first position seems to liquidate the center, whereas in the later the strategy seems more of a give and take (white must concede space on the Qside to gain initiative on the Kside). From the result of the game we would conclude white accurately assessed the situation and converted his initiative.

As for some of the comments about Caruana's home prep and So's amateurish play... I question both of these assessments. This was an untested line, and in the past So has played many games in which his choices looked risky but his positional judgment proved sound. He just lost on the odds this time. It's not so easy to forsee the outcome from 12 moves earlier. Maybe Fab worked on this line some, but it is also quite possible that he is in very good form for this event, playing with a hi level of accuracy as he did in the past, being a combination of reasonable preparation and excellent practical choices.

Mar-12-18  brimarern: As mentioned in Chess24, Caruana did nothing "spectacular", yet slowly but surely played on good plan after another and got the win. Even a lot of the variations not played are not sparky. Solid chess!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Arn Zufeld: As I played over the game, I only made one note: how about 28...Bd5. Now I see you guys have it all worked out.
Mar-15-18  Kapmigs: <Marmot PFL: Chances tomorrow as Kramnik will likely be tired and maybe demoralized.>

It seems even his hardcore, triple X fans now believe that he has chances to win only if his opponents are tired and demoralized.

Victory only via fortuitous events, via acts of God.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Video analysis of this game:
Mar-23-18  cormier: 18...Nxc5 was a better move .....
Mar-29-18  MadFaqirOfSwat: USA vs. USA--this win brought Caruana to the WCC
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: simply demolished..


Apr-26-18  epistle: This game started Caruana's run towards the world championship. Like the initial salvo from a conquering army.
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