Five Tied for Lead in Sinquefield Cup

Heading into its final days, the 2019 Sinquefield Cup is lined up for a potential “photo finish,” with five players tied for the lead at 4.5/8 as today’s ninth round gets underway.

courtesy STLCC

Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Sergey Karjakin, Ding Liren, and Ian Nepomniachtchi are all at +1 after eight rounds in a tightly compressed leaderboard. Three players – Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Wesley So – trail by just a half-point with even scores.

Here’s a look back at Rounds 6, 7, and 8. Included are notes to two games from IM Bryce Tiglon, annotated exclusively for CLO.

photo John Hartmann

Tiglon recently took the 2019 Denker Tournament of High School Champions title on tiebreaks, and he tied for shared 4th-8th place at the 2019 U.S. Open with 7/9. This is his first authorial appearance for Chess Life Online.

Round 6

courtesy STLCC

Friday’s Round 6 saw another six-for-six set of draws, although once more it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave sacrificed two exchanges in an effort to defeat Fabiano Caruana, but the American navigated the intensely complex middlegame before giving back one exchange to ensure the draw. Afterwards MVL told Maurice Ashley that he’d had the key position after 21.c4 on the board at the hotel 30 minutes before the round started!

Viswanathan Anand got what appeared to be a winning position against Anish Giri, but let the win slip in the endgame. A crestfallen Anand was bereft of words in his interview with Maurice Ashley, such was his disappointment in the half-point squandered.

Round 7

courtesy STLCC

Anand’s profligacy continued in Round 7, when he was unable to convert a tricky ending in his game with Ding Liren. Bryce Tiglon analyzes the game for CLO.

After admitting to Maurice Ashley that he needed to make his move soon after Round 6, Magnus Carlsen tried to break his draw streak with a sharp idea in the Grunfeld against Ian Nepomniachtchi. Nepomniachtchi was up to the task, and the game was drawn in 34 moves.

photo Austin Fuller

The draw trend continued in Round 7, with all six games drawn for the fourth time in the tournament. Should this trouble chess fans? Or do all the interesting ideas and fighting chess make up for the lack of decisive results? Anish Giri is clearly in the second camp.

Is chess just hard? CLO welcomes reader perspectives in the comments to this article.

Round 8

courtesy STLCC

Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi broke through with key victories in Round 8 to claim their shares of the lead.

Karjakin took advantage of an error in the opening by Vachier-Lagrave to win a nice game that is annotated by Bryce Tiglon.

Nepomniachtchi had a decent advantage against Levon Aronian before Aronian slipped with 30…Nhf5. After that, Nepo ratcheted up his edge and took the game in 54 moves.

Magnus Carlsen came loaded for bear in his game with Ding Liren, sacrificing multiple pawns in a frantic effort to mate his opponent. But Ding cooly defended, and soon it was Carlsen who had to begin to think about navigating his way to the draw.

photo Justin Kellar

Today’s Pairings

courtesy STLCC


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