Sinquefield Rd3: The Return of the Draw

by Albert Silver
8/8/2016 – In round two, an analogy was made about movies and their sequels, and the title is a reference to it. To be fair to the players, all the games were dynamic affairs with fascinating tussles that just seemed to culminate in draws in spite of the players’ efforts, not because of them. Examples to be seen are Topalov’s oversight that all thought meant a sure loss, or Aronian’s opening piece sacrifice. Full report with analysis by GM Moradiabadi.

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2016 Sinquefield Cup

The 2016 Sinquefield Cup is an elite international event, featuring 10 of the strongest chess players in the world. Over the course of nine rounds, these competitors will battle for $300,000 in prize money (first: $75,000, second: $50,000, third: $40,000, last: $15,000) plus points toward the Grand Chess Tour and the coveted title of 2016 Sinquefield Cup Champion.

The venue is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center at 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108. Tickets cost $10 per round or $80 for all ten rounds. Full information available at the official web site.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators worldwide are expected to enjoy the all-star commentary team of GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade as they provide keen insights and analysis, in depth player interviews and witty discussions. Commentary is also available on the CCSCSL YouTube Channel, Livestream and Twitch.

Round Three
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Wesley So
2771
½-½
Levon Aronian
2784
Anish Giri
2769
½-½
Ding Liren
2755
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Veselin Topalov
2761
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Peter Svidler
2751
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807

Round three

All photos by Lennart Ootes from official site

It had to happen eventually, and round three was it. The games all started with some interesting ideas and clear attempts to decide the game any way but peacefully, but things just never seemed to really work out. Take Wesley So versus Levon Aronian: the Armenian prepared a piece sacrifice for the opening, one that So was unsure about after the game, and despite willful play from both, a perpetual on move 28 was the end result.

It wasn't for lack of trying, but Levon Aronian was not able to strike a fatal blow to Welsey So

Is there anything more unpleasant than seeing a home-prepared piece sacrifice?

Wesley So reacted well, fought back, but could not do more than keep the balance

Veselin Topalov’s game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was certainly the most unusual. The reason is two-fold: on the one hand Topalov seemed to have blundered on move 28 after a theoretical scrimmage in the … (drum roll) Najdorf! Topalov played a move that allowed a tactic for MVL to win a pawn. It was so surprising and easy to see that the quick assessment was that this was a fatal turn. Even Fabiano Caruana went to the confession box on video, but instead of talking about his own game, the common thing to do, he discussed the Topalov-MVL position before the tactic.

Caruana was so caught up in the Topalov-MVL game that he chose to talk about it instead

Fabiano Caruana: "My game is fun, but I'm not sure if Topalov blundered Rxc2. It looks like it wins on the spot. It's bizarre because it's such a simple tactic, but I'm not sure what White can do after that.... It would be strange to lose the game within the first half hour with white. (shakes head) I just can't see a single response for White after that."

Veselin Topalov - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2016.08.07"] [Round "3"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2761"] [BlackElo "2819"] [Annotator ""] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/5pp1/p1rp1n1p/Q3p3/4P3/4BP1q/PPPR1R1P/1K6 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/7200:3600+30"] 27. Rd3 {[#] 342} Rxc2 {556} 28. Rxc2 {179} Qf1+ {25} 29. Bc1 {5} Qxd3 {6} 30. Qd2 {4} Qxc2+ {6} 31. Qxc2 {7} Rxc2 {6} 32. Kxc2 {2 Black is up a pawn, but White's king and queenside pawns make winning this very challenging, if indeed it can be won.} Kf8 {1473} 33. Kb3 {52} Ke7 {11} 34. Kc4 {54} Ke6 {458} 35. b4 {264} d5+ {163} 36. exd5+ {7} Nxd5 {5} 37. Bd2 {486} f5 {711} 38. b5 {563} axb5+ {18} 39. Kxb5 {11} Kd6 {631} 40. a4 {0} g5 {0} 41. a5 {479} f4 {195} 42. Kc4 {842} Nc7 {12} 43. Bb4+ {111} Ke6 {261} 44. h3 {264} h5 {50} 45. Bc5 {316} e4 {400} 46. fxe4 {9} g4 {4} 47. hxg4 {121} hxg4 {13} 48. Kd3 {173} Na6 {8} 49. Bd4 {142} Nb4+ {99} 50. Ke2 {21} Na6 {12} 51. Kf2 {67} Kd6 {29} 52. Kg2 {139} Ke6 {7} 53. Kf2 {6} Kd6 {2} 54. Kg2 {6} Ke6 {3} 1/2-1/2

MVL hard at thought trying to understand if Rxc2 is not what it seems: a free pawn

However, this was much less simple than initially thought, and Topalov not only forced the endgame as soon as possible, but showed how hard it was to win this with black. There was potential debate over this move or that after, but nothing that screamed error. In the end, they drew after 54 moves.

Anish Giri and Ding Liren were two others who really pushed the ticket. Ding Liren was the first to make a bid for more when he sacrificed his exchange on move 23, but on move 32 it was Giri’;s turn to sacrifice his exchange in order to open up Black’s king and gain counterplay sufficient for the draw.

Anish Giri and Ding Liren analyzing at the board, but then decide ...

... they really want to see what the engine says about some of their moves.

Vishy Anand, who has shown himself to be in form, played Hikaru Nakamura, and it too was a long and fascinating struggle.

A thrilling game drew many fans to watch up close

Vishy Anand - Hikaru Nakamura (annotated by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

After the game, in the post-game press conference, Yasser Seirawan asked Anand about the evolution of chess over the years.

Yasser Seirawan: In your career, because you bridge generations, you've seen this classical play and this modern play. Talk to our audience a bit about that. Do you think the players of today, because of this dynamic play, are forced to see a lot more, and evaluate a lot more different plans? Because in the old days you'd just say "Oh, I have an isolated queen pawn; I know what to do."

Vishy Anand: Yes, understanding many things has to keep evolving. I mean, nowadays everything is so... tactical. Something works or it doesn't, and this is maybe the biggest change to get used to. So I've had to learn that a lot of moves that I thought were ugly are very strong, and I had to learn that a lot of moves that I think are strong are not. I wouldn't say we have discarded all classical priniciples, but there are so many nuances in chess, and that's probably the hardest thing to slowly learn. I wonder what kind of conversation I would have with Polugaevsky, for example.

YS: Exactly!

VA: If we ever sat down somewhere for a chat, it would be slightly disorienting.

YS: (Laughs)

Maurice Ashley: For him that is.

VA: For him, yes. I mean, we always used to wonder what would happen if Morphy came back in the 60s, and would he recognize chess, but I think that question is much stronger now.

In the end, one cannot get around the reality of five draws in five games, but looking closer at them, it is clear there was no shortage of fighting spirit displayed by the players, just a shortage of blunders that might capsize their boats.

About GM Elshan Moradiabadi

Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess.

Elshan co-authored "Chess and the Art of War: Ancient Wisdom to Make You a Better Player" with Al Lawrence. He has also published written articles for ChessBase, and edited opening materials for fellow authors.

Elshan Moradiabadi is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching at his email.

You can contact him at his email or follow him on Twitter.

Replay games of round three

Select games from the games list below the board

Standings after three rounds

The games are being broadcast live on Playchess, with expert analysis.

Schedule

Day Date Time Event
Playchess commentary
German
Sunday Aug. 7 1 p.m. Round 3
Chris Ward
Christian Bauer
Monday Aug. 8 1 p.m. Round 4
Simon Williams
Klaus Bischoff
Tuesday Aug. 9 1 p.m. Round 5
Simon Williams
Klaus Bischoff
Wednesday Aug. 10 Rest Day
Thursday Aug. 11 1 p.m. Round 6
Chris Ward
Thomas Luther
Friday Aug. 12 1 p.m. Round 7
Yannick Pelletier
Thomas Luther
Saturday Aug. 13 1 p.m. Round 8
Simon Williams
Yannick Pelletier
Sunday Aug. 14 1 p.m. Round 9
Yannick Pelletier
Klaus Bischoff
Monday Aug. 15 1 p.m. Playoffs
 
 

Pairings

Round One
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Ding Liren
2755
½-½
Levon Aronian
2784
Wesley So
2771
1-0
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Anish Giri
2769
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
Veselin Topalov
2761
1-0
Peter Svidler
2751
Round Two
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
1-0
Peter Svidler
2751
Fabiano Caruana
2807
½-½
Veselin Topalov
2761
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
1-0
Anish Giri
2769
Ding Liren
2755
½-½
Wesley So
2771
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
0-1
Viswanathan Anand
2770
Round Three
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Wesley So
2771
½-½
Levon Aronian
2784
Anish Giri
2769
½-½
Ding Liren
2755
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Veselin Topalov
2761
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Peter Svidler
2751
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
Round Four
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
  Fabiano Caruana
2807
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
  Peter Svidler
2751
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
  Veselin Topalov
2761
Ding Liren
2755
  Viswanathan Anand
2770
Wesley So
2771
  Anish Giri
2769
Round Five
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Anish Giri
2769
  Levon Aronian
2784
Viswanathan Anand
2770
  Wesley So
2771
Veselin Topalov
2761
  Ding Liren
2755
Peter Svidler
2751
  Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Fabiano Caruana
2807
  M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Round Six
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian 2771   M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Hikaru Nakamura 2731   Fabiano Caruana
2807
Ding Liren 2793   Peter Svidler
2751
Wesley So 2779   Veselin Topalov
2761
Anish Giri 2765   Viswanathan Anand
2770
Round Seven
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Viswanathan Anand
2770
  Levon Aronian
2784
Veselin Topalov
2761
  Anish Giri
2769
Peter Svidler
2751
  Wesley So
2771
Fabiano Caruana
2807
  Ding Liren
2755
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
  Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Round Eight
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
  Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Ding Liren
2755
  M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Wesley So
2771
  Fabiano Caruana
2807
Anish Giri
2769
  Peter Svidler
2751
Viswanathan Anand
2770
  Veselin Topalov
2761
Round Nine
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Veselin Topalov
2761
  Levon Aronian
2784
Peter Svidler
2751
  Viswanathan Anand
2770
Fabiano Caruana
2807
  Anish Giri
2769
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
  Wesley So
2771
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
  Ding Liren
2755

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.
 


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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praddy06 praddy06 8/8/2016 10:43
Unbeaten Streak in Chess without defeat in classical games


Mikhail Tal in 1973-74 - 93 games
Mikhail Tal in 1972-73 - 86 games
Milan Drasko in 2006-2007 - 84 games
Vladimir Kramnik in 1999-2000 - 82 games
Wang Yue in 2008 - 82 games
Vachier Lagrave in 2015-2016 - 67 games
TMMM TMMM 8/8/2016 02:55
It's good to see that Anand can still play chess. 2/3 against 2800 players is not bad...

And without Carlsen, it's anyone's tournament. No one besides Carlsen has shown consistency over a long period of time, winning every tournament. I especially had higher expectations for MVL - let's see if he can recover.
vincero vincero 8/8/2016 02:52
topalov might have won all his games....but appears unable to maintain deep concentration....Svidler a favorite of mine hoped for a mistake and a win but it was not to be...i hope he gets a few wins.
nothing special in todays games.
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