The 2019 Sinquefield Cup resumes this afternoon after Thursday’s rest day, with three players sharing the lead heading into Round 6. Ding Liren defeated Anish Giri in Wednesday’s Round 5 to join Viswanathan Anand and Fabiano Caruana in first place with 3 points.
With only one point separating first and last place, and with the Saint Louis heatwave broken, there is still plenty of time for players to take their fates in their hands and climb the leaderboards.
In today’s Round 6, key matchups include Nepomniachtchi-Ding and Anand-Giri. Nakamura takes White against Carlsen in a game that looks important for both players. Karjakin plays Aronian, Mamedyarov faces So, and Caruana has the White pieces against Vachier-Lagrave.
Ding’s win over Giri was a positional masterpiece. It appeared that Giri had made it out of the opening with a completely equal position, but a neat repositioning idea and some “small tactics” left Giri with an open king and Ding with a serious initiative.
Ding Liren (photo Lennart Ootes)
Ding-Giri (photo Lennart Ootes)
Anish Giri (photo Justin Kellar)
In the final position, and in a win for pawngrubbers everywhere, Ding took a trip to the “Yasser [Seirawan] school” and passed up a clear mating idea to grab a pawn and the game.
Ian Nepomniachtchi kicked his tournament back into gear with a long technical win over Hikaru Nakamura. Nepomniachtchi found a sparkling series of moves to win a pawn in the late opening, but then gave it back by allowing Nakamura’s 23…Nxa2. Nakamura returned the favor (and the pawn) with his 27th move, reaching an objectively drawn ending whose defense was practically very difficult.
After resisting stoutly for 20 moves, he slipped with 57…b4?, and with obvious loathing on his face, Nakamura resigned a few moves later.
Caruana attracts onlookers (photo Crystal Fuller)
So-Caruana (photo Crystal Fuller)
There were fireworks galore in the matchup between countrymen Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana. Caruana admitted in the post-game interview that the opening was part of his preparation, but he couldn’t remember all the concrete details. The result was a fascinating battle that petered out to a draw after So sac’d a piece to open Caruana’s king.
Stalemate! (photo Lennart Ootes)
Players cannot offer draws in the Sinquefield Cup, so when they want to make a draw, they will often resort to a repetition of positions. Not satisfied with such mundane means, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin found a more pleasing way to split the point in their Round 5 matchup.
In the two remaining games, Vachier-Lagrave and Anand drew a sharp game by repetition, while Aronian and Mamedyarov game never really got off the ground, with a draw “agreed” after 54 moves.
Yasser asks Vishy if he’s going to the karaoke party tonight 😂 Some highlights: Vishy: these things always leave a video trail…you might honor it [promise not to record] but Anish won’t Maurice recalls the video of him, Alejandro and Yasser rapping 😄 pic.twitter.com/xzav3i1J1k
We have no reports from Saint Louis about the Wednesday night karaoke party as of yet, but hints have emerged about what the players did with their rest day on Thursday.
Resolute Twitter warriors Levon Aronian and Anish Giri traded friendly barbs around Giri’s trip to the Saint Louis Zoo. I will leave the reader to discover the content of these tweets on their own, as they are not entirely “workplace safe.”
Magnus Carlsen took a more active approach to the rest day.
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world #chess champion, throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the start of the St Louis Cardinals v Colorado Rockies baseball game on August 22, 2019 in St Louis (courtesy of Associated Press). pic.twitter.com/1WoJyPhkk2