Aronian, Caruana and Carlsen Share Sinquefield Cup Title

Fabiano Caruana, Photo Lennart Ootes
In an unexpected finale to the 2018 Sinquefield Cup (August 17-28), Grandmasters Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen shared the prestigious title. Fabiano entered the final round with a half a point lead. He drew relatively quickly with Olympic team-mate Wesley So to score 5.5/9, undefeated with two victories. The thrilling final day was highlighted by two decisive games to create a three-way tie at the top, starting with Levon Aronian's brilliant and brave victory over Grischuk.

[Event "Sinquefield Cup"]
[Date "2018.08.27"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2767"]
[BlackElo "2766"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Armenia"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "ARM"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. g3 Nbd7 4. Bg2 e5 5. c4 c6 6. Nc3 e4 7. Nh4 d5 8. O-O
Bb4 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. f3 Bxc3 11. bxc3 O-O 12. Ba3 Re8 13. Nf5 Nb6 14. Nd6 Nc4
15. Nxc4 dxc4 16. fxe4 Nxe4 17. Qc2 Qd5 18. Rxf7 Kxf7 19. Rf1+ Bf5 20. g4 g6
21. Qc1 Kg7 22. gxf5 gxf5 23. Bxe4 fxe4 24. Qf4 h6 25. Qc7+ Kh8 26. Bd6 Rg8+
27. Kf2 Rg6 28. Be5+ Kg8 29. Ke3 Rd8 30. Qe7 b5 31. h4 a5 32. h5 Rg5 33. Rf6
Rxe5 34. Rg6+ 1-0

Just when commentators and fans thought we'd see an Aronian-Caruana playoff, Magnus crashed the party with an incredible endgame grind against Hikaru Nakamura.

[Event "Sinquefield Cup"]
[Date "2018.08.27"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2842"]
[BlackElo "2777"]
[PlyCount "193"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Norway"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 b6 7. Bd3 dxc4 8. Bxc4
Ba6 9. Qe2 Bxc4 10. Qxc4 c5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. O-O Nc6 13. Rac1 Rc8 14. Ne5 Qb6
15. Nxc6 Rxc6 16. b3 h6 17. Rfd1 Qb7 18. h3 Rfc8 19. Na4 Nd7 20. Rd2 Nb6 21.
Nxb6 Rxb6 22. Rcd1 Bf6 23. Rd7 Qa6 24. Qe4 e5 25. Bxh6 Re8 26. Qg4 Qxa2 27. e4
Qxb3 28. Be3 Rb7 29. R7d6 Be7 30. R6d5 Bf8 31. Bxc5 Bxc5 32. Rxc5 Qe6 33. Qe2
Rd7 34. Rxd7 Qxd7 35. Rd5 Qc7 36. Qd2 Ra8 37. Rd7 Qc4 38. f3 Qc5+ 39. Kh2 Qc6
40. Rd6 Qc5 41. Ra6 Qe7 42. Qe3 Kh7 43. Kg3 Qb7 44. Qa3 f6 45. Kh2 Qc7 46. Qa1
Qb7 47. Qa5 Qd7 48. Qa2 Qe7 49. Qf2 Qb7 50. Qa2 Qe7 51. Qd5 Rb8 52. Qa5 Rb7 53.
Qe1 Qd7 54. Qh4+ Kg8 55. Qf2 Qf7 56. Qa2 Qxa2 57. Rxa2 Kh7 58. Ra6 Kg6 59. h4
Kh5 60. Kh3 Rf7 61. g4+ Kh6 62. Kg3 g5 63. h5 Kg7 64. Kf2 Rb7 65. Ra3 Kh6 66.
Ke3 a5 67. Rxa5 Rb3+ 68. Kf2 Rb2+ 69. Kg3 Kg7 70. Ra7+ Kg8 71. Ra1 Kg7 72. Rf1
Ra2 73. Rf2 Ra3 74. Rd2 Ra7 75. Kf2 Kf7 76. Ke2 Rb7 77. Rd3 Ra7 78. Kd2 Ke6 79.
Kc3 Ke7 80. Kc4 Rc7+ 81. Kb5 Rc1 82. Rb3 Kf7 83. Kb6 Rc2 84. Kb7 Rc1 85. Kb8
Kg8 86. Rb6 Kg7 87. Rb7+ Kg8 88. Rc7 Rb1+ 89. Kc8 Rb3 90. Kd7 Rxf3 91. Ke6 Rf4
92. h6 Kh8 93. Rb7 Kg8 94. Rg7+ Kh8 95. Kf7 Rxe4 96. Kg6 Ra4 97. Rh7+ 1-0

IM Eric Rosen captured some key moments on our twitter feed @USChess, starting with the pre-round march to the playing hall. With Caruana, Aronian and Carlsen all tied for the lead, the regulations stated that one would have to be eliminated by random draw, after which a playoff for first would follow.
Graphics by Spectrum Studios
Led by Magnus Carlsen, who thought the random draw was an unacceptable outcome, the players chose to share the title this year instead. Find many more details on this, including video, in FM Mike Klein's report.  There was still chess to be played on the day reserved for playoffs, Fabiano Caruana defeated Wesley So in a two-game rapid match for the fourth Grand Chess Tour finals spot. It will be an all American semi-finals as Caruana is set to play Nakamura, while seeds 2 and 3, Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, face one another. Look for more on the Sinquefield Cup and Grand Chess Tour, including tactical quizzes later this week. You can replay all the broadcasts, in both Russian and English, on the Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube channel.