Sinquefield Cup: No decisive games, Rapport and Firouzja make it fun

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/24/2023 – No decisive games have been played in the first three rounds of the Sinquefield Cup, despite players entering fighting lines out of the opening more often than not. In other news, Jan-Krzysztof Duda withdrew from the tournament due to health issues, and his round-1 game will be taken out of consideration for the final standings. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Duda withdraws due to health issues

On Thanksgiving Day in the United States, Polish grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda announced his withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup due to health reasons. Since he had only played one game in the tournament, his draw from round 1 with Anish Giri will be simply taken out of consideration, making this edition of the event a 9-player single round-robin.

Leinier Dominguez, who was supposed to face Duda on Thursday, thus automatically received a free day — and he decided to visit a coffee shop with his famed trainer, Vladimir Chuchelov.

A consequence of Duda’s withdrawal will be that only four players will receive points for the FIDE Circuit — according to the regulations, half the field of each eligible tournament grabs points for the circuit. This factor mildly affects Anish Giri, who is the frontrunner in the race to reach the Candidates via this ranking, and now needs to get at least fourth place to improve his score in the leaderboard.

Anish Giri

Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 3 saw Giri and Wesley So each keeping seven pawns on the board in a completely closed position, which resulted in a 39-move draw. Levon Aronian and Ian Nepomniachtchi, in the meantime, also showed great opening preparation to keep their encounter balanced throughout — and a draw was agreed after 32 moves.

It was not all a display of deep theoretical knowledge, though, as we could count on the creative duo of Richard Rapport and Alireza Firouzja to produce an exciting confrontation.

Rapport ½ - ½ Firouzja

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Richard Rapport

Richard Rapport | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The game between Rapport and Firouzja featured some good-looking tactical lines, but nonetheless finished before reaching the 40-move mark.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave versus Fabiano Caruana did reach the time control, on the other hand. An endgame with rook against two minor pieces was eventually reached, with Caruana (the side with the rook) showing good technique to keep the balance.

Vachier-Lagrave ½ - ½ Caruana

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana

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.