4 Steps that changed the world?
Are we witnessing the ascent of a new chess king? Did Fabiano Caruana have a moment of self-realization? No More Mr Nice Guy! After all, the greatest champions are also the most ruthless...
America’s No.1 player took total command in Wijk aan Zee, the first super-tournament of 2020, with an awesome score of 10/13. Unleashing a stunning 4-0 finish, he outstripped world champion Magnus Carlsen by a two point margin! However, it was not only his dominating performance that raised eyebrows but the Herculean effort he made in the last four rounds. His final game will be remembered for a long time to come, even though it had absolutely no bearing on the final standings. Caruana was already a point and a half ahead of the field and winner of the tournament with a round to spare. But he still played for a win! All in all, it was 4-0 For a Fab Finale! These “4 steps that changed the world” have considerably raised expectations for Caruana’s world title chances and in ACM #16 each one of these encounters is annotated in detail.
Yes, 2020 is World Championship year. But first Caruana needs to navigate his way through the Candidates Tournament, just like he did two years ago. And from the many messages of enthusiastic support for Fabi, published in our “Readers Voices” section, one name repeatedly crops up as a very real obstacle on his path to a second world title match: “Go Fabiano, but watch out for Ding Liren!” writes one chess fan. In their 2018 showdown, Fabiano and Magnus were equal Brothers in Arms (see ACM #09) in classical play, but now the American seems to have moved up a gear to display an uncompromising Fischer-like thirst for blood!
Incidentally, we also cover additional Wijk aan Zee games by Caruana and Carlsen, as well as the play of two more US representatives. Wesley So made a powerful return to the higher echelons by finishing a clear 3rd, while Jeffery Xiong gained invaluable experience in what was his first elite tournament.
And that’s not all. There is another American success story! Have you heard about the humble teacher from New Jersey who crossed the Atlantic and won the famous Hastings tournament? GM Magesh Panchanathan hasn’t been too active across the board over the past ten years, and naturally(!) journeyed overseas with the idea of a New Year family vacation. Yet ultimately he canceled and rescheduled his flight back home! Why on earth would someone do that at the very last moment? Well, it’s not often a US player finds their name engraved on the same trophy as fellow Americans Harry Nelson Pillsbury (conqueror of Hastings 1895) or Frank James Marshall (winner in 1928)! Now this latest winner of the Hastings Masters provides ACM with an exclusive account of his remarkable achievement, together with a selection of annotated games and positions from the tournament.