Italian- American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana ended the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands in style by winning his last game against Vladislav Artemiev.
Caruana had already guaranteed himself the tournament in the previous round by taking an unassailable lead over a strong field that included the likes of world champion Magnus Carlsen.
A chess prodigy, Caruana became a grandmasters when he just under 15-year-old in 2007 and from his performance here is signaling his growing threat to the top players.
He ended the championships with 10 points, two clear of Carlsen (8) and Wesley So (7.5)
Despite having the title in the bag, Caruano was in no hurry in his final match against Artemiev.
He easily equalized after highly unorthodox 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nd7!? and then secured a clear advantage after Artemiev ran in circles for a while in the middlegame. With all the other games concluding much earlier, Caruana kept looking for a win.
His Russian rival found an interesting opportunity to escape by sacrificing his knight to activate the queen and deliver a perpetual. Unfortunately for him, he chose the wrong “checking route” – 49.Qd7+ would have saved the game as after 49…Rf7 50.Qd4+ Kf8 there is a key check from d8. After 49.Qe7+ Artemiev was doomed as Caruana’s king ran away and found a safe haven in White’s camp.
The Masters championships will be remembered for Caruana’s outstanding performance finishing with a remarkable seven wins with no losses. It was his best tournament performance since Sinquefield Cup 2014 when he won 7 games in a row at the start.
Caruana’s live rating is up to 2842 after the event, only 20 points behind Carlsen.
Carlsen was out of form at the beginning of the tournament but still finished in clear second place with a respectable 8/13 keeping his unbeaten streak alive. His most important achievement is undoubtedly a victory over Alireza Firouzja with Black – a prelude for their long upcoming battle.
Wesley So finished third with 7.5 points and also undefeated. He started the event with two victories and was even leading for a short moment, but his energy level was seemingly not high enough as he went on nine game drawing streak.
van Foreest turned in by far the best tournament in his career. He managed not only to finish with +1 score (three wins and two losses) but played some fighting, spirited chess throughout the event and showed absolutely no fear in mixing up with the “big boys”. The lowest-rated participant tied for the 4th place with Daniil Dubov who was actually 3rd lowest-rated player in the tournament. It was also a good result for Dubov who is almost back into “2700 class” with live rating of 2699. Meanwhile, van Foreest will increase his rating by 23 points and enter the top 100 (Open) for the first time in his life.
Firouzja once again became the main magnet to spectators’ attention. The 16-year-old prodigy from Iran, now living in France and playing under FIDE flag, was sensationally leading the tournament until Round 9. He played some amazing games and went for the big battles against the world’s best – he suffered three losses in a row in these clashes.