Sinquefield Cup Recap

by Alejandro Ramirez
9/7/2015 – The 2015 Sinquefield Cup will probably be the strongest tournament of the year, and it was an exciting venture. In a very close race until the last couple of rounds, Levon Aronian took the title and impressed even his most die-hard fans as he recuperated from a tough year. We bring you the recap of what happened at the tournament, some interesting facts and Grand Chess Tour standings.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!


Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!

More...

2015 Sinquefield Cup

This super-GM single Round Robin brings together some of the best players in the world. This is the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour.

The players – Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Fabiano Caruana (USA), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Viswanathan Anand (India), Wesley So (USA).

The venue is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center at 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108. Tickets can be purchased at the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Recap

"It is the land of opportunity!". Maurice Ashley asked Levon Aronian during the opening ceremony about his chances in the Sinquefield Cup. The Armenian could not have been more correct!

The 2015 Sinquefield Cup had an amazing start, and even though the games in the end were considerably longer and had a higher draw ratio, the drama was always there.

The happiest man from this tournament has to be, without a doubt, Levon Aronian. It isn't only that he won the tournament, but he has finally bounced back from over a year of mediocre to bad results. He started the tournament with a brilliant win and he never let go:

[Event "3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.08.23"] [Round "1"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2765"] [BlackElo "2808"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 Ne4 8. Rc1 Nxc3 9. Rxc3 b6 10. c6 Nf6 11. a3 a5 12. Bd3 Ne4 13. Rc2 f6 {The first deviation of the game. 12...Ba6 has been played before by Caruana (against Giri in Wijk aan Zee). Although the game was drawn, his position was a little suspicious.} 14. Qe2 Bd6 15. O-O g5 $5 {Black didn't want to capture on f4, so he forces White to capture himself!} (15... Bxf4 16. exf4 $6 {leaves the e6 pawn weak in the long run, and e5 will never be achieved.}) 16. Bxd6 Nxd6 17. Re1 a4 18. Nd2 e5 $5 19. e4 $1 {Creating serious tension on the center...} f5 $1 {A funny looking move! The tension accumulates, but Black is ok no matter which pawn Aronian takes.} 20. f3 (20. dxe5 fxe4 (20... Nxe4 $5) 21. exd6 exd3 22. Qxd3 Qxd6 $13) (20. exd5 $2 e4 $15) 20... dxe4 $6 {Releasing the tension at the wrong moment.} (20... Re8 $1) 21. fxe4 Ra5 $2 {Caruana underestimates White's attack and allows a brilliancy!} (21... exd4 22. e5 Re8 $14) 22. exf5 Nxf5 23. Bc4+ Kg7 24. d5 {Now e5 is very weak.} Re8 25. Ne4 {Perhaps Fabiano underestimated this move? The knight is magnificently placed and Nd4 doesn't work...} Nd4 26. Qh5 $1 {The point.} Nxc2 {otherwise he is just lost} 27. Nxg5 Bf5 28. Rf1 {Simple and sufficient. Black is up a rook, but Black simply cannot defend his position:} Qf6 (28... Bg6 29. Rf7+ Kg8 (29... Bxf7 30. Qxh7+ Kf6 31. Ne4+ Ke7 32. d6+ {and Black gets mated.}) 30. Qh6 $18) 29. Ne6+ (29. Rxf5 Qxf5 30. Ne6+ {seemed easier, but everything wins.}) 29... Rxe6 30. Rxf5 Qg6 31. dxe6 {Being up two pawns usually forces resignation, but Black is lucky to still be alive.} (31. Rg5 $1 {Was stronger according to the computer, and flashier, but Aronian's move is winning also.}) 31... Qxh5 32. Rxh5 Nd4 33. e7 Ra8 34. Rxe5 {Two pawns is too much. Caruana flutters for a few more moves, but it is over.} Re8 35. Re4 Nf5 36. Be6 Nd6 37. Bd7 Nxe4 38. Bxe8 Kf6 39. Bg6 1-0

Interestingly, all of the Armenian's victories came against Americans. Despite the high hopes of the locals for one of the three American players to succeed, the best performance was by Nakamura who managed +1, while So and Caruana finished last and antepenultimate, respectively.

It is unusual that a player wins an event a full point ahead, especially in this caliber of event, but that is what happens when a total of four players finish with a +1 score.

Despite disappointing results in the last half of the tournament, where Carlsen should have scored one more point than he did, the World Champion was able to clinch second thanks to his superior tiebreaks. Carlsen's draw against Nakamura was certainly a let down as he was basically winning at some point, but a huge hallucination caused him to erroneously trade rooks in an endgame, letting his opponent have enough counterplay. Another difficult to explain result was the following:

[Event "3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.08.30"] [Round "7"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2853"] [BlackElo "2771"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "132"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be3 Be6 9. Qd3 {repeating the line that Anand played against MVL earlier in the tournament.} Nbd7 {Grischuk was having none of that endgame, instead he decided to allow a knight to d5, changing the pawn structure.} 10. Nd5 O-O 11. O-O Bxd5 12. exd5 Rc8 {As is typical in the Najdorf, White exchanged a piece on d5 and how his structure has a majority on the queenside. However Black has good dark-square control and the b3 knight is very bad, it will take some time to regroup it.} 13. c4 Ne8 14. Qd2 b6 {Around here Carlsen mentioned that he didn't like his position, but to be fair there is nothing wrong with it immediately. In the long-term, however, Black's plan seems more obvious than White's.} 15. Rac1 a5 16. Na1 {No one wants to play this move, but it has a sneaky idea. Also it caused Grischuk to start thinking heavily.} g6 17. b4 $5 Ng7 (17... axb4 18. Nc2 {is the point, as the knight quickly heads to c6. Grischuk doesn't take to keep the control of b4.}) 18. bxa5 bxa5 19. Bd3 Nc5 20. Bc2 a4 21. Rb1 {White's knight on a1 is awful, but he has control of the b-file, pressure on a4 and the pair of bishops. It is hard to say who is better.} e4 $5 {Changing the position. White is happy to trade his c4 pawn for the e5 one though.} 22. Bxc5 Rxc5 23. Bxa4 (23. Qe2 $5 {is a little more ambitious} Qc7 (23... f5 $5) 24. Bxa4 Rxc4 25. Bc6 $16) (23. Bxe4 Rxc4 24. Qd3 $11) 23... Rxc4 24. Bc6 Nf5 25. Qe2 Rc3 26. Qxe4 Ra3 {White wins the pawn on e4, but thanks to this strong rook the a2 pawn is doomed. The position looks rather drawish.} 27. Qe2 Bf6 28. Nb3 Qe7 29. Qxe7 Nxe7 30. Nd2 Rxa2 31. Nc4 Rd8 {I was expecting the players to sign the scoresheets around here, but Carlsen started playing very strange moves.} 32. g4 $2 (32. Rbd1 $11) 32... Bd4 33. Rbd1 Bc5 {suddenly White is just worse. He has problems with his d5 pawn and the f2 pressure.} 34. Rd2 Rxd2 35. Nxd2 Nxc6 36. dxc6 Rc8 37. Ne4 Rxc6 38. Rd1 {The extra pawn is hard to convert, but from here on out Grischuk will torture the World Champion.} h6 39. h4 Kf8 40. Kg2 Ke7 41. Rc1 {The endgame is unpleasant, though surely a computer would hold it.} Rc8 42. Kf3 Ke6 43. Rc2 Rc7 44. h5 $5 {Commital. Some grandmasters analyzing the game didn't like this move.} gxh5 45. gxh5 Bb6 46. Re2 Bd4 47. Kg3 d5 48. Nd2+ Kf5 49. Kg2 Be5 50. Nf3 Bf6 51. Ra2 Rd7 52. Ne1 Rc7 53. Kf3 Bg5 54. Ra5 Ke5 {White is suffering, but it's not so easy to make progress. The blockade on d3 will hold on strong.} 55. Ke2 Ke4 56. Ra4+ d4 57. f3+ Kd5 58. Ra5+ Kc4 59. Nd3 Re7+ 60. Re5 Re6 ( 60... Kc3 {was winning, according to Komodo, but the truth of the position is still not clear to me.}) 61. f4 Bf6 62. Rxe6 fxe6 63. Nf2 $4 (63. Kd2 $1 {was the only way to hold the position. There seems no way to break down the position.}) 63... Be7 $1 {White will soon be zugzwanged.} 64. Ng4 Kc3 65. f5 ( 65. Kd1 Bf8 66. Nf2 d3 {is winning.}) (65. Nf2 Kc2 66. Nd3 Ba3 67. Nf2 Bd6 68. Nd3 Kc3 {with a zugzwang.}) 65... exf5 $1 {only move} 66. Nxh6 Kc2 $1 {the pawn is unstoppable.} 0-1

Some interesting facts about the events so far:

  • Aronian beat every American player and no one else (in Norway he only beat Caruana).
  • Giri has not lost a game in the Grand Chess Tour.
  • Anand was the only player not to win a game in Saint Louis.
  • Aronian's score in Saint Louis would only have been good enough for a tie 2-4 in Norway.
  • Both Wildcards have finished last, though Jon Ludvig Hammer was only last due to tiebreak.
  • Nakamura has finished third in both tournaments due to tiebreak: in both he has tied for second.
  • There were as many 3.Bb5+ Sicilians as Najdorfs in Saint Louis.
  • The Spanish had two white wins, two draws and three black wins.
  • The only player to lose with 1.d4 was So, who lost against Aronian and Nakamura.
  • Carlsen, Nakamura, Grischuk and So all had five decisive games.
  • Out of the five 2800s in the World, only Nakamura and Carlsen finished in the top half at the Sinquefield.

Out of the melee of rating changes, Nakamura emerges as the #2 player in the World

Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony was a short and private event. No big Grand Chess Tour announcement for 2016 was made, besides the dates of the events. There was a short Q&A session towards the end.

Levon Aronian with his trophy. Next to him (from left) are
Major of Saint Louis Francis Slay, Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield

Aronian's speech was rather motivating!

The deserved winner in Saint Louis

Some of the players took a flight straight to Baku, where they will be preparing for the next big event: the World Cup which starts next week!

Standings

Grand Chess Tour Standings

*rank refers to the rank before Saint Louis

Despite the fact that Topalov was only seventh in Saint Louis, his win in Norway keeps him in the lead. If Topalov, Nakamura or Aronian win the London Chess Classic without the need for a tiebreak, they guarantee themselves the Grand Chess Tour victory. Every player is still in contention for the title!

Replay all games

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Photos by Austin Fuller

Pairings

Round One
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Giri, Anish 2793
1-0
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
So, Wesley 2779
0-1
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
Aronian, Levon 2765
1-0
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
0-1
Topalov, Veselin 2816
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
1-0
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
Round Two
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
1-0
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
Topalov, Veselin 2816
1-0
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2765
Giri, Anish 2793
½-½
So, Wesley 2779
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
0-1
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
Round Three
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
So, Wesley 2779
1-0
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
Aronian, Levon 2765
½-½
Giri, Anish 2793
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
1-0
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2816
Round Four
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2816
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
Giri, Anish 2793
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
So, Wesley 2779
0-1
Aronian, Levon 2765
Round Five
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Aronian, Levon 2765
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
1-0
So, Wesley 2779
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
½-½
Giri, Anish 2793
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
½-½
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
Topalov, Veselin 2816
0-1
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
Round Six
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
1-0
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
1-0
Topalov, Veselin 2816
Giri, Anish 2793
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
So, Wesley 2779
0-1
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
Aronian, Levon 2765
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
Round Seven
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
½-½
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
0-1
Aronian, Levon 2765
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
½-½
So, Wesley 2779
Topalov, Veselin 2816
½-½
Giri, Anish 2793
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
0-1
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
Round Eight
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
½-½
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
Giri, Anish 2793
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
So, Wesley 2779
½-½
Topalov, Veselin 2816
Aronian, Levon 2765
½-½
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
½-½
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
Round Nine
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Nakamura, Hikaru 2814
1-0
Grischuk, Alexander 2771
Anand, Viswanathan 2816
½-½
Carlsen, Magnus 2853
Topalov, Veselin 2816
½-½
Aronian, Levon 2765
Caruana, Fabiano 2808
½-½
So, Wesley 2779
Vachier-Lagr, Maxime 2731
½-½
Giri, Anish 2793

Games start at 1 p.m. local time (20:00h CEST, 22:00h Moscow, Thursday 12:30 New Delhi, 03:00h Tokyo, 04:00 Canberra – check your location here).

Playoffs, if necessary, will be on the 2nd at 1pm.

The games will be broadcast live on Playchess, with expert analysis (see schedule below).

Broadcast Schedule

Day Date Time Event German
English
Sunday Aug. 23 1 PM Round 1 Thomas Luther   
Mihail Marin
Monday Aug. 24 1 PM Round 2 Calrstedt/Pähtz
Mihail Marin
Tuesday Aug. 25 1 PM Round 3 S. Siebrecht  
Simon Williams
Wednesday Aug. 26 1 PM Round 4 S. Siebrecht  
Simon Williams
Thursday Aug. 27 1 PM Round 5 S. Siebrecht  
Simon Williams
Friday Aug. 28 Rest Day
Saturday Aug. 29 1 PM Round 6 Reeh/Breutigam
Y. Pelletier
Sunday Aug. 30 1 PM Round 7 Reeh/Breutigam
Y. Pelletier
Monday Aug. 31 1 PM Round 8 S. Siebrecht  
Daniel King
Tuesday Sept. 1 1 PM Round 9 Y. Pelletier
Daniel King
Wednesday Sept. 2 1 PM Playoffs  
 

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess 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 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.
 


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Discuss

Rules for reader comments

 
 

Not registered yet? Register