Sinquefield Cup: A perfect day for So

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/28/2023 – Wesley So scored his second victory in this year’s Sinquefield Cup by beating Levon Aronian with the white pieces in Monday’s sixth round. Moreover, wins for Leinier Dominguez (over Anish Giri) and Fabiano Caruana (over Alireza Firouzja) greatly increased So’s chances of qualifying to the Candidates Tournament either by rating or via the FIDE Circuit. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Wins for So, Dominguez and Caruana

More wins were recorded in round 6 of the Sinquefield Cup than in all the previous rounds combined, as Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez and Fabiano Caruana all won on Monday to greatly alter the standings table. So now has a full-point lead over Dominguez, Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, although Caruana and MVL both have played five games, while So and Dominguez have played six.

Besides becoming the clear favourite to win the round-robin tournament, So massively improved his chances to reach the 2024 Candidates Tournament, as the two closest contenders to get the rating spot — Alireza Firouzja and Anish Giri — suffered crucial losses.

On the one hand, Giri now needs to bounce back in the next three rounds to gain some points for the FIDE Circuit, while So is likely to win the event or finish near the top, thus collecting points for the leaderboard. Meanwhile, in the rating race, Firouzja is now trailing So by over 10 points in the live ratings list.

Firouzja’s below-par performance in the last pair of tournaments (the Grand Swiss and the Sinquefield Cup) even allowed Dominguez to surpass him in the live ratings list. However, as pointed out by Tai Pruce-Zimmerman, a.k.a. Chess by the Numbers, the Cuban-born grandmaster has not played enough classical tournaments eligible for the FIDE Circuit to meet the Candidates’ requirements.

Dominguez is still in time to find some other event in December, but then he would need to either maintain his rating or to improve it against (most likely) lower-rated opposition in order to get the coveted spot.

Leinier Dominguez

Leinier Dominguez | Photo: Lennart Ootes

So 1 - 0 Aronian

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Sinquefield Chess Cup 2023

Wesley So’s active king facing Levon Aronian’s struggling knight | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Firouzja 0 - 1 Caruana

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Alireza Firouzja, Fabiano Caruana

Game over | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Giri 0 - 1 Dominguez

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Anish Giri, Leinier Dominguez

Anish Giri and Leinier Dominguez | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 6

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.