Sinquefield Cup: Dominguez joins the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/21/2021 – Leinier Dominguez was one of four winners in Friday’s fourth round at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. Dominguez beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s Najdorf Defence to join Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So in the lead of the standings. Meanwhile, Richard Rapport, Sam Shankland and Dariusz Swiercz all scored their first wins of the tournament. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Fighting games, decisive results

For a second day in a row at the Sinquefield Cup, four out of the five games played in the Saint Louis Chess Club finished decisively, with all the results favouring the white player. On Friday, Leinier Dominguez scored his second win of the event — he also beat Swiercz in the first round — to join Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So in the lead of the standings.  Meanwhile, Richard Rapport, Sam Shankland and Swiercz all obtained their first wins of the tournament.

There has been no lack of excitement at the eighth edition of the top US tournament. The fighting nature of the games has translated into entertaining broadcasts and a high percentage of decisive results (for an elite tournament), as 12 out of the 20 games played so far in the second-largest city of Missouri finished decisively.

With Rapport, Shankland and Swiercz all getting their first wins on Friday, 8-time Russian champion Peter Svidler was left at the bottom of the standings table. It must be noted that Svidler was booked as a commentator for this tournament, but a number of pandemic-related cancellations prompted the organizers to include him in the lineup. Nonetheless, we can expect the experienced grandmaster to recover from his subpar start in the second half of the event — the players will get a rest day on Sunday.

Peter Svidler

Not at all disheartened — multiple Russian champion and commentator extraordinaire Peter Svidler | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Caruana and So were sharing the lead with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave after three rounds. The US stars were paired up against each other and drew a tense 53-move encounter. MVL, in the meantime, was playing his pet Najdorf Defence with black against Dominguez, a strong theoretician in his own right.

Amid a sharp tactical battle, Dominguez went for it on the kingside on move 25.


25.h5 Qe6 26.hxg6 hxg6 followed. Black could have tampered White’s attacking chances by trading queens with 26...Qxe4, although that would have left him with a rather tough defensive task ahead after 27.gxf7+ Rxf7 28.Bxe4.

After the text, Dominguez grabbed a pawn with 27.Qxf4 and eventually broke through. This was the position on the board a few moves later.


The retreating 31.Qe1 was a precise final touch by Dominguez, planning to give a check from e6 — 31...Bf6 32.Rh6 Qb7 33.Qe6+, and MVL resigned with mate-in-4 on the board.


Leinier Dominguez, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Game over — Leinier Dominguez vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapport also won by coordinating a kingside attack with the white pieces. 


26.Ng4 followed, and Svidler’s king was visibly in trouble. Soon enough, more white pieces joined the fun.


It was the right time to create more attacking lines: 30.f5 Ra6 31.f6 cxd4 32.cxd4 Bf8 33.Qxg3 Nd2 34.Qh4 Ne4


Black is lost: 35.Nh6+ Bxh6 36.Qxh6 Nxf6 37.exf6 Qg3+ 38.Bg2, and resigns. Svidler can escape the immediate checkmate with 38...Qe3+ 39.Qxe3 Rxe3, but White is already a piece up — and Rxb7 is coming!


Richard Rapport, Jovana Vojinović

A good-looking couple — Richard Rapport and Jovana Vojinović | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Shankland and Swiercz scored wins over markedly higher-rated opponents, with the former defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov’s Berlin Defence and the latter beating Jeffery Xiong out of a sharp middlegame struggle in a Najdorf. Swiercz finished off his opponent in an endgame with queen and rook against queen and bishop.


Swiercz found the forcing 52.Rxb2 cxb2 b4+


Both captures lead to losing pawn endgames for Black. Xiong resigned after 53...Kxb4 54.Qe7+.


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Dariusz Swiercz

Dariusz Swiercz | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 4


All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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