Fabiano Caruana has won two elite tournaments in a fortnight, jumped to No 2 in the live ratings only 21 points behind world champion Magnus Carlsen, and is playing in the US championship in St Louis.
America’s world title challenger is already putting psychological pressure on Carlsen, seven months before their 12-game world title series. While capturing the Grenke Classic at Baden-Baden, Caruana won his final two games with the unfavourable black pieces, and, just as in the candidates at Berlin, went for the full point in the last round when a draw would have ensured first prize.
While Caruana plays in St Louis, Carlsen will play at the Shamkir tournament in Azerbaijan.
Caruana broke another taboo in the final round at Grenke when he unleashed a startling opening novelty rather than hoard it until November. After 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 d4 Nxe4 4 dxe5 d5 5 Nbd2 Qd7!? has the immediate idea that if White continues 6 Nxe4 and swaps queens, Black can retake with the knight on d7 rather than with king or bishop on d8.