Round 3 of the Sinquefield Cup saw all six draws again, which was enough for Viswanathan Anand to remain on top of the leaderboard. While Anand had no trouble drawing with the black pieces, Karjakin, on the other hand, had to fight for his half a point, essentially defending for over 80 moves. Tomorrow will see some interesting battles as Caruana will have the white pieces against Aronian and Carlsen will have the black pieces against Mamedyarov, the last player to have defeated him in a classical game over a year ago. Anand will be looking to increase his lead as he has the white pieces against Wesley So.
Standings after round 3
Hikaru Nakamura vs Sergey Karjakin ½ - ½
The 104 move epic battle lasted for nearly 6 hours only to leave Nakamura frustrated. On move 26, Nakamura closed the position, explaining that optically the position looks for winning for him and that one day he would be able to break through as black had no counter play. He missed Karjakin’s 31...Qd8 move, which allowed Black to control the a5 square and built a fortress. Karjakin had to remain passive for a long time, moving his bishop back and forth, waiting for his opponent to find a way to make progress. As the players were nearing the 50 move rule draw, Nakamura decided to sacrifice a pawn and look for new ways to breakthrough. The 2019 U.S. Champion exhausted every trick and idea he could find but ultimately had to accept the inevitable fate of the game.
Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana ½ - ½
The highly anticipated battle between the World Champion and his 2018 challenger was a well fought out affair. Caruana deviated from the game Carlsen-Duda game from earlier this year with a novelty on move 9 in the Vienna Variation. Caruana explained that playing a novelty is a pleasant feeling as it means that the opponent is out of book, but he had to suffer a bit in the opening nonetheless. Carlsen felt that he achieved a comfortable edge but wasn’t able to do anything with it. After simplifications, the game ended in a rook endgame on move 43.
All eyes were on Carlsen vs Caruana
Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov ½ - ½
This might be another game where Nepomniachtchi regrets playing too quickly as he missed an opportunity to gain lasting advantage on move 30. After following a theoretical line in the Archangelsk Variation of the Ruy Lopez, Mamedyarov started experiencing discomfort after misplacing his light squared bishop on a6. After his main mistake on move 29, Nepomniachtchi had the opportunity to push his passed pawn to the 6th rank, where it would become a nuisance for his opponent. Instead, after only spending 4 minutes on the move, he played the incorrect move order, which allowed Mamedyarov to tactically equalize the position using the pin on White’s queen.
Ian Nepomniachtchi and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Ding Liren vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½ - ½
Ding Liren’s opening preparation against Vachier-Lagrave’s Grunfeld Defense gave him a substantial advantage but he misplayed the resulting middle game position. The position had an interesting dynamic with the white king in the center but in return white had a better grip on the center and managed to exchange the dark squared bishops, leaving black with the knight pair. Ding Liren misplayed the position on move 22 when he chose the tactical path. This decision only allowed black to open the position forcing an exchange of pieces and leaving white with a weak pawn structure. With limited pieces on the board, the game petered out into a draw.
Wesley So vs Anish Giri ½ - ½
The theoretical Open Catalan variation led to a Carlsbad like structure, with two sets of minor pieces exchanged. Usually the exchange of minor pieces in the Carlsbad favors the black side, the So had his light squared bishop left with ideas of minority attack with left Giri with a permanent pawn weakness on c6. Optically, the position looked very promising for White, but on the other hand, black had only one weakness which was easily defendable. Ultimately, White did not find a way to build his advantage, ending the game with a repetition.
Levon Aronian vs Viswanathan Anand ½ - ½
The first game of the round concluded in less than two hours. Aronian didn’t show a lot of ambition with the white pieces, trading pieces and entering an endgame where he had a pair of knights against his opponent’s bishop pair. Due to White’s rook activity and Black’s compromised pawn structure, Anand had to exchange his bishops for the knights, entering an equal rook endgame. The game ended on move 42 with a repetition.
The pregame handshake