Sinquefield Rd8: Exhaustion, gumption, and redemption

by Albert Silver
8/14/2016 – It was an inauspicious start, with symmetrical positions and split points, but thankfully for the fans it did not last. Anand against Topalov was the final draw, but neither seemed ready to accept it and serious risks were taken to avoid one. Giri sacced a pawn against Svidler, but failed to make the most of it and lost, while Aronian got an advantage early in a QGD against Nakamura and won a superb positional game analyzed in depth by GM Elshan 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.

Participants

No.
Player
Rating
W-Rnk
Age
Country
1
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
2819
2
25
France
2
Fabiano Caruana
2807
4
24
USA
3
Levon Aronian
2784
5
31
Armenia
4
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
6
28
USA
5
Wesley So
2771
7
22
USA
6
Viswanathan Anand
2770
8
47
India
7
Anish Giri
2769
9
22
Holland
8
Veselin Topalov
2761
12
41
Bulgaria
9
Ding Liren
2755
13
23
China
10
Peter Svidler
2751
18
40
Russia

Rounds start at 1 p.m. local time (CDT), which is UTC-5, 20:00h Europe, 23:30 India.
Check the start time at your location here.

Round Eight - Saturday, August, 13, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
1-0
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Ding Liren
2755
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Wesley So
2771
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
Anish Giri
2769
0-1 
Peter Svidler
2751
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Veselin Topalov
2761

Round eight

Photos by Lennart Ootes from official site

Sounding the opening bell

There really wasn’t a lot to say about the first draws. The games were innocuous at best, and never seemed like any serious effort was made to change this destiny. Of course, one could argue that Wesley So, playing against Fabiano Caruana, was content to nurse his plus two tournament score into the last round, he is also setting himself up for a potential headache as well. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave trails by a full point but will play him with white.

Fabiano Caruana versus Wesley So was uneventful, and So keeps his lead going into the last round

Should he beat him, there is a very serious possibility the tournament might end in a vast tie for first, and an equally large tiebreak to decide the title. When asked about this by GM Maurice Ashley in the post-game interview, So explained that it was a long tournament, and that after seven rounds the players were feeling very tired. Perhaps time to start hitting the gym?

Ding Liren’s game with MVL went nowhere very quickly, and it was quite literally symmetrical down to the pawns and pieces after 16 moves. The result was never in doubt.

Ding Liren - MVL

This was the position after 16 moves. 'Mirror, mirror, on the board...'

The same cannot be said of Anand’s fascinating fight with Topalov. Commentators and fans might have groaned when the dreaded Berlin appeared on the board, but with players such as these, and notably their longstanding rivalry, the chance of a coordinated peace effort seemed unlikely. There was more to it than that of course: after 27 moves, when a draw seemed probable, the leader Wesley So had already signed his score sheet, leaving him wide open to a decisive result in round eight, and another in round nine.

Vishy Anand: draws are only acceptable as a last resort

Needless to say, Veselin Topalov barely knows the meaning of the word

Anand made his move, putting himself in potential jeopardy, re-igniting the fires of war on the board. In the end, though certainly fascinating to accompany, they did draw, but it was a good fight to watch.

Vishy Anand - Veselin Topalov

[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2016.08.13"] [Round "8"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2770"] [BlackElo "2761"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [TimeControl "40/7200:3600+30"] 1. e4 {(3s)} e5 {(5s)} 2. Nf3 {(6s)} Nc6 {(5s)} 3. Bb5 {(9s)} Nf6 {(7s)} 4. O-O {(12s)} Nxe4 {(5s)} 5. d4 {(6s)} Nd6 {(6s)} 6. Bxc6 {(8s)} dxc6 {(4s)} 7. dxe5 {(7s)} Nf5 {(7s)} 8. Qxd8+ {(7s)} Kxd8 {(5s)} 9. h3 {(10s)} b6 {(129s)} 10. Nc3 {(234s)} Ke8 {(60s)} 11. Rd1 {(333s)} Bb4 {(8s)} 12. Ne2 {(57s)} Bb7 {(881s)} 13. Ned4 {(738s)} Nxd4 {(6s)} 14. Nxd4 {(8s)} Bc5 {(4s)} 15. Nf5 {(662s)} Rg8 { (104s)} 16. g4 {(26s)} h5 {(132s)} 17. Be3 {(587s)} g6 {(579s)} 18. Nh6 {(37s)} Rh8 {(25s)} 19. Bxc5 {(22s)} bxc5 {(35s)} 20. g5 {(16s)} Bc8 {(342s)} 21. h4 { (263s)} Ke7 {(460s)} 22. f4 {(341s)} Be6 {(431s)} 23. Rf1 {(265s)} Rad8 {(206s) } 24. c3 {(170s)} Bh3 {(522s)} 25. Rf2 {(382s)} Ke6 {(166s)} 26. Re1 {(42s)} Rd3 {(126s)} 27. Re4 {(171s)} Rhd8 {(71s)} 28. Ra4 {[#] (345s)} Rd1+ {(408s)} ( {Had Topalov played} 28... Re3 $1 {the course of the game might have gone differently.} 29. Rxa7 Rd1+ 30. Kh2 Bf1 31. Rxc7 Rh3+ 32. Kg1 Bc4+ 33. Kg2 Rdh1 {and White's position looks quite suspicious. Bd5+ is threatening to clean up the house so} 34. f5+ {is forced.} gxf5 35. Rxc6+ Kd5 (35... Kxe5 36. Rxf5+ Ke4 37. Rcxc5 $11) 36. Rf6 Bd3 37. Rd6+ Ke4 (37... Kc4 {allows} 38. b3+ Kxc3 39. Rf3 {and Black has nothing better than the repetition with his rooks.}) 38. Nxf5 (38. Rxd3 Kxd3 39. Nxf5 R1h2+ 40. Kg1 Rxf2 41. Kxf2 Ke4 {and Black has the exchange and good winning chances.}) 38... R1h2+ 39. Kg1 Rxf2 40. Kxf2 Kxf5 ) 29. Kh2 {(14s)} R8d3 {(7s)} 30. f5+ {(620s)} gxf5 {(233s)} 31. Raf4 {(44s)} Bg4 {(188s)} 32. Kg2 {(157s)} Bh3+ {(6 s)} 33. Kh2 {(6s)} Bg4 {(5s)} 34. Nxg4 { (132s)} hxg4 {(258s)} 35. Kg2 {(18s)} g3 {(365s)} 36. Re2 {( 43s)} Rb1 {(72s)} 37. h5 {(201s)} Rdd1 {(168s)} 38. Kxg3 {(112s)} Rh1 {(11s)} 39. Rc4 {(520s)} Kd5 {(331s)} 40. Rf4 {(0s)} Rbg1+ {(0s)} 41. Rg2 {(181s)} Rxg2+ {(560s)} 42. Kxg2 {(8s)} Rxh5 {(12s)} 43. Rxf5 {(5s)} 1/2-1/2

The game that seemed most likely to end in a decisive result, from early on, was Levon Aronian against Hikaru Nakamura. The opening got an interesting treatment from both players, and is analyzed in depth by QGD expert, GM Elshan Moradiabadi, who shares his insights.

Levon Aronian - Hikaru Nakamura (annotated by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

Levon Aronian was inspired and played a superb positional game to punish...

... Hikaru Nakamura for his unorthodox handling of the QGD.

If Anish Giri has certainly not been having a good event, it had been a dream compared to Peter Svidler’s thus far. When the two clashed, it was not ridiculous to expect them to quietly take their lumps and move on to the next event with a clean slate, but that was not in the cards. Anish played an interesting pawn sacrifice to generate play and an initiative, but never really seemed to get any momentum going from it, and in the end the pawn was the deciding factor.

The playing area with fans enjoying an up-close view

Anish Giri - Peter Svidler (annotated by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

Peter Svidler cannot believe his eyes: the torment is over and he scored a win

The tournament will now enter the final round, and anything goes. Wesley So is the leader with a very modest (at this point) +2 score with 5.0/8, followed by Anand and Aronian on 4.5/8, and more a half point behind them. So will face MVL with black, and a loss might leave a considerable number tied for first. Even a draw could mean a tiebreak with Anand or Aronian, or both, so round nine promises to be exciting and tense, and is not to be missed!

In Playchess, Swiss GM Yannick Pelletier will be providing the live commentary, and it bears remembering that this commentary is interactive and open to comments, group chat and of course questions on the positions or more to the GM.

Standings after eight rounds

Schedule

Day Date Time Event
Playchess commentary
German
Sunday
Aug. 14
1 p.m.
Round 9
Yannick Pelletier
Klaus Bischoff
Monday
Aug. 15
1 p.m.
Playoffs
 
 
 

Pairings

Round One - Friday, August 5, 1pm
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 - Saturday, August 6, 1pm
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 - Sunday, August 7, 1pm
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 - Monday, August 8, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
½-½
Peter Svidler
2751
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
½-½
Veselin Topalov
2761
Ding Liren
2755
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
2770
Wesley So
2771
½-½
Anish Giri
2769
Round Five - Tuesday, August 9, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Anish Giri
2769
½-½
Levon Aronian
2784
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Wesley So
2771
Veselin Topalov
2761
1-0
Ding Liren
2755
Peter Svidler
2751
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Fabiano Caruana
2807
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Round Six - Thursday, August 11, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian 2771
0-1
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Hikaru Nakamura 2731
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
Ding Liren 2793
1-0
Peter Svidler
2751
Wesley So 2779
1-0
Veselin Topalov
2761
Anish Giri 2765
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
2770
Round Seven - Friday, August 12, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Levon Aronian
2784
Veselin Topalov
2761
½-½
Anish Giri
2769
Peter Svidler
2751
½-½
Wesley So
2771
Fabiano Caruana
2807
½-½
Ding Liren
2755
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
½-½
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Round Eight - Saturday, August, 13, 1pm
Name
Rtg
Res.
Name
Rtg
Levon Aronian
2784
1-0
Hikaru Nakamura
2791
Ding Liren
2755
½-½
M. Vachier-Lagrave
2819
Wesley So
2771
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
2807
Anish Giri
2769
0-1 
Peter Svidler
2751
Viswanathan Anand
2770
½-½
Veselin Topalov
2761
Round Nine - Sunday, August 14, 1pm
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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genem genem 8/14/2016 06:31
See the time used per move, in seconds, in the .pgn and game replayer, is very nice.
JohnTVian JohnTVian 8/14/2016 05:46
Pun for the day: So, Wesley So is the soul leader down south. So be it..
johnmk johnmk 8/14/2016 03:38
The legendary Aronian cunning was on full display!
tigerprowl2 tigerprowl2 8/14/2016 11:51
No video?
flachspieler flachspieler 8/14/2016 08:45
Hello Albert, are you in Rio just in these days?
It must be such a big difference between a chess
tournament and the Olympic games...
Bertman Bertman 8/14/2016 08:05
@ GregEs

The kinds words and courtesy are always appreciated.
GregEs GregEs 8/14/2016 08:03
Thanks for the great report and photos and also for the GM analysis.
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