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Sinquefield Cup 2019 - Grand Chess Tour leg 5

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Round 1

The first round was very quiet, and it'd have been even quieter hadn't Nepomniachtchi blundered in a dead drawn endgame, allowing Anand to take the early lead.


© Grand Chess Tour

All the other games ended in a draw.

Round 2

All draws in round 2, but there could have been some interesting results.
Nepomniachtchi missed a golden opportunity to win against Caruana, when the American blundered.
Here is the crucial position


Can you spot the winning sequence?
Don't fire up your engine!

If you can't find the solution, check out GM Joel Benjamin's explanation in the video!


And here is the game:

 

 


© Grand Chess Tour

Giri, despite being a pawn up, could not manage to beat Levon Aronian.
Magnus Carlsen improved his record number, taking his streak without a loss to 81 games in a row, after today's draw against Anand.

Round 3

Round 3 saw six draws, with Anand keeping his leadership.
the only game that gave some spice to a calm round was Nakamura vs. Karjakin: in a super-closed position, with unattackable pawn chains, the Russian and the American fought for 102 moves.
For the rest, it was a dead calm day.


© Grand Chess Tour

Round 4

After a couple of rounds without a decisive result, eventually, in Round 4 the standings moved a bit, for Caruana won his game against Aronian.


© Grand Chess Tour

Aronian, quite uncharacteristically, had to fight mostly against the clock. At the end of the game, more than once he found himself with only one second on the clock, and under such a pressure Levon blundered an easy-to-see tactic, that allowed Caruana to convert and take home the point.

Round 5

In a single round, we witnessed the doubling of the number of decisive games in the tournament. Nepomniachtchi ran over Nakamura, and Ding Liren beat Giri in a convincing way.


© Grand Chess Tour

The standings now show a three-way tie at the top and half a point behind almost everyone else.


© Grand Chess Tour - A smiling couple of champions handshake after a draw.

Round 6

The rest day didn't bring in a new fighting spirit, apparently.
Round 6 saw six draws, letting the standings unchanged.
Magnus Carlsen, who admitted he's struggling a bit, went to throw the first pitch for the Cardinals in their game against the Colorado Rockies.

Anand seemed to have the upper-hand in his game against Giri, but the Indian gentleman wasn't able to convert it into a full point.
In the press conference, Anand looked a bit disappointed, as a win would have projected him on the lead "solo".


© Grand Chess Tour

Round 7

Six draws in Round 7.
Anand - again - had the chance to beat his opponent, and this time it was Ding Liren, one of the co-leaders. winning would have meant - given that all the other games were over and draw - take off for the Indian gentleman.  But Ding resisted and defended well, forcing the former world champion to a draw.



© Grand Chess Tour

In Round 8 Anand will play Caruana with the black pieces. It could be a golden opportunity for the American to jump in the lead solo, with only three rounds to go.
Meanwhile, Carlsen drew his 7th game in a row. It is not a terrible result, being 50% in one of the strongest tournaments ever, but Magnus has spoiled us all: we are used to seeing him dominate, and looking at the Norwegian chess genius draw game after game is a bit unsettling. His LIVE rating dropped by 10.8 points so far.


Round 8

After round 8, and two decisive results, the top of the standings has become a crowded place.
Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi won their games against MVL and Aronian, catching the three leaders at the top.


© Grand Chess Tour

Carlsen, who drew his 8th game in a row, follows half a point behind, together with Mamedyarov and So.
With three rounds to go, winning becomes a necessity, which makes us hope that these last days in St. Louis will be a bit more exciting.




Levon Aronian, the victor of the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, dwells alone in the last position, with an almost-incredible 3/8 score.


© Grand Chess Tour
 

Round9

The top of the standings is less crowded after round 9. Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi are now leading the tournament, after their wins against Caruana and Wesley So.

                  
© Grand Chess Tour

With two rounds to go, the two GMs have half a point advantage over Anand and Karjakin, and one whole point over the trio formed by Carlsen, Caruana, and Mamedyarov.

Round 10

A man alone in command! Round 10, after an extremely close tournament, let emerge a name that maybe not everyone expected: Ding Liren.
He drew his Rd 10 game, but his direct contender - Nepomniachtchi - lost against MVL.


© Grand Chess Tour

Carlsen was the other one to move the standings today.
After 9 draws, the World Champion won his first game in this tournament, playing Wesley So.


© Grand Chess Tour

 

Now, with one round to go, Ding Liren leads solo, followed half a point behind by Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi, Anand, and Carlsen.
Any of these players can still win the event. It'll be a thrilling last round!

Round 11

Magnus Carlsen won his second game in a row and caught Ding Liren at the top of the standings. For the first time, the Sinquefield Cup will be decided by a playoff.


© Grand Chess Tour

Sergey Karjakin could have joined the golden duo on top, but he was unable to convert his advantage in the game against Caruana.
The playoff consists of two games with time control 25 minutes and 10-second delay and will go to Blitz should it be still tied after the Rapid games.

Playoff

Ding, Ding, Ding! 
For whom the bell tolls? 
This time it tolls for Magnus Carlsen, who could not affirm his superiority in Blitz, and lost the playoff to Ding Liren, the Chinese GM #3 in the world!
After the two Rapid games went without a decisive result, the two contenders had to play two Blitz games with time control 5 minutes and 3-second delay.
Magnus wasn't able to defend against the impressive Liren, and lost both games.

After the chess marathon in St. Louis, Missouri, this is the standings of the Grand Chess tour:

GM Alex Yermolinsky in this video recaps the Sinquefield Cup and talks about the Grand Chess Tour!
 



The Sinquefield Cup is one of the most important and strong tournaments of the year.
The St. Louis Chess Club is one  - if not THE - most beautiful and classy places to hold a top-level event.



The prize found is a whopping $325,000.
What else?
Ah yes, of course! The strongest players in the world are participating, which is not a negligible benefit for the fans.

Despite his nightmarish event in the 4th leg of the GCT, Magnus Carlsen still leads the Grand Chess Tour standings, and it looks very likely he will be able to qualify for the finals in London, at the end of the year.


Last year, the Sinquefield Cup saw a dramatic finale, with three players tied for first.

At the moment, the only one who seems to enjoy a reasonable period of form is Levon Aronian, fresh winner of the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz.

In his interview during the live commentary of the GCT Rapid and Blitz in St. Louis, Garry Kasparov lamented the poor quality of the play by the ten super-GMs who participated in the 4th leg of the Grand Chess Tour. The ex-World Champion imputed the low level of play to the players being overworked. Now, keeping in mind that these young guys are pushing light pieces of woods and not building a highway, it has to be said that the GCT has been quite demanding, calendar-wise.
Jokes aside,  it's been almost shocking to see Magnus Carlsen play so badly, unable to come out of a deep pit after the Rapid section disaster.
The World Champion appeared tired, ruffled, and in a terrible mood. Obviously, we don't know what's going on in his private life, but Kasparov might be right, at least to some extent.

Rapid and Blitz are not the same thing as Classical chess, but if the players are tired, a long session of 4-5 hours may take its toll. 
If this is the case - tiredness - one of the favorites is American hero Hikaru Nakamura. He didn't participate in the just-concluded Rapid and Blitz event and went on to climb mountains in Colorado. 


From Instagram

Nakamura has not been playing at his best in recent months, and his rating shows it: 2743 and 19th position in the FIDE list. But the American GM can "find himself" any moment, and pull off an excellent performance. 

Anyway, with only one rest day after the Rapid and Blitz - at least for the majority of them - the ten top players are going to fight for the prestigious title, starting Saturday, August the 17th, at 2 PM EDT (20:00 Europe).


ICC will relay the games and have GM Yermolinsky recap the event LIVE on ICCTV  August the 29th, at 3 PM EDT!

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