Halftime at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup

Fabiano Caruana vs. Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Five players (half the field) are currently tied for the lead at the Sinquefield Cup, Fabiano Caruana, Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Alex Grischuk, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Despite the high drawing percentage thus far (80%), many hard-fought, fascinating games have been played. Test your tactical, positional, and endgame skills with puzzles from key moments from the first half of the tournament.

Puzzle #1

Fabiano Caruana vs. Hikaru Nakamura

White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Sinquefield Cup 2018"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.08.21"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2r5/R7/4k3/p5rb/2p1p3/2N1K3/PP2P3/7R w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "13"]1. Nxe4 Rf5 (1... Re5 2. Rf1 Kd5 3. Rxa5+ Ke6 4. Rf6+ Kd7 5. Rxe5) (1... Rb5 2.
Rf1 Rf5 (2... c3 3. Rf6+ Kd5 4. Rd7+ Ke5 5. Re7+ Kd5 6. Rd6+ Kc4 7. Rd4#)) (
1... Rd5 2. Rf1 Rd7 3. Rxa5 Be8 4. Nc5+) 2. Ra6+ Ke7 3. Nd6 Re5+ 4. Kd4 {and
Nakamura resigned. If} Rcc5 5. e4 Rg5 (5... Be8 6. Ra7+ Kxd6 7. Rh6+ Re6 8.
Rxe6+ Kxe6 9. Kxc5) (5... a4 6. Nf5+) 6. Nf5+ Rgxf5 7. exf5 1-0[/pgn]
Alex Grischuk. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Puzzle #2

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Alex Grischuk

How did Grischuk expand his minor advantage into a winning one?
Black to move.
Show Solution

[Event "Sinquefield Cup 2018"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.08.20"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6bk/2p1b1qp/2p1p3/2P1Np2/2B2P1P/7K/5Q2 b - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "47"]1... Bf5 2. Qe2 Qh5 3. Nf2 Qh4 4. Ne4 Qxh3+ 5. Kg1 Qh5 6. Be1 Bxe4 7. Qxe4+
Qg6+ 8. Kh2 Qxe4 9. fxe4 Kg6 $19 {The game finished with:} 10. Kh3 Kh5 11. Bh4
f3 12. Bf2 Bf6 13. Be1 Bg5 14. Bf2 Be7 15. Be1 Bd8 16. Bg3 Kg5 17. Bxe5 Bf6 18.
Bd6 f2 19. Kg2 Bd4 20. Kf1 Kg4 21. Ke2 h5 22. Kf1 h4 23. Bh2 h3 24. Ke2 Be3 0-1[/pgn]
Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Spectrum Studios

Puzzle #3

Magnus Carlsen vs. Sergey Karjakin

How did Carlsen squeeze out a victory in this long endgame against his 2016 Challenger?
White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Sinquefield Cup 2018"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.08.19"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "1-0"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4r3/8/p6R/PkB1P3/1P2K3/8/8/5r2 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "19"]1. Rb6+ Kc4 2. e6 Re1+ 3. Kf5 Rf1+ 4. Ke5 Re1+ 5. Kf6 Rf1+ 6. Kg7 Ra8 7. e7 Re1
8. Kf7 Re4 9. Rd6 Rh8 10. Rxa6 {and Black resigned.} 1-0[/pgn]

  Watch the games live and enjoy engaging commentary by Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, and Maurice Ashley on the Official Grand Chess Tour Website. Find updates, photos, and more on the US Chess TwitterInstagram, and Facebook The Sinquefield Cup runs from August 18-28 with rounds everyday at 1 P.M. CST.   
Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award. You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West  

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