2021 Sinquefield Cup - Day 6 Recap

For the first time in the event all five games in today’s round ended peacefully, as while a few players stood better at various points no one could increase their advantage to a significant degree. With the slew of draws, So, Vachier-Lagrave, and Dominguez remain at the top of the standings with 4.0/6, while Caruana is still a half-point behind with three rounds left to play.

Standings after Round 6

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes, with a 30-second increment added from move one.

Swiercz - Mamedyarov | ½-½, 42 moves

A 5.Re1 Berlin gave Swiercz a small but nagging advantage in terms of the structure, though he was never able to do much against Mamedyarov’s stubborn defense. A risky pawn grab (23...Bxa2) a-la Game 1 of the 1972 Spassky-Fischer World Championship worked out just fine for Mamedyarov, who was able to force liquidations and eventually secure a draw in the endgame.

Mamedyarov could not do as much as Black today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Dominguez - Svidler | ½-½, 35 moves

One of the sharpest games of the round featured an aggressive handling of the Black side of the Italian Game by Svidler, who seemed to burn all bridges by advancing his kingside pawns towards White’s king. Missing an opportunity (pointed out by the engines) in the middlegame to sacrifice a knight and launch a powerful attack, Svidler instead played more calmly, allowing Dominguez to consolidate and equalize the game.

26...b5! 27.axb5 Nf3+!! was winning according to the engines, with the point that 28.gxf3 gxf3 29.Rfd1 Qh4!-+ (followed by Ra7-g7) gives Black a decisive attack.

Svidler had some attacking chances, but Dominguez put up stiff resistance. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Caruana - Vachier-Lagrave | ½-½, 46 moves

In a highly important game for the standings Caruana came armed with some deep theoretical preparation, targeting MVL’s beloved Najdorf and repeating the same line (6.Be3) that Dominguez used earlier to score a win against the French No. 1. MVL deviated from the game with Dominguez, though still found himself under serious pressure, using up more than half his time while Caruana was still clearly in his preparation. In a complex middlegame with opposite sides castling, Fabi had managed to create a powerful passed pawn on f6, but MVL was just in time to create counterplay with a passed pawn of his own. Not seeing a way to break through, Caruana then forced a draw as the players reached the first time-control.

After 30 moves Caruana still had more time than he started with, but soon caught up on time with MVL.

Despite his fantastic preparation, Caruana could not achieve a clear edge. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Shankland - Rapport | ½-½, 47 moves

An unusual line in the Scotch Opening led to a fresh position early on, as both players castled queenside before starting to fight for key squares in the center and kingside. It seemed as though Rapport had a small edge thanks to his healthier pawn structure, but ultimately couldn’t make anything out of it, eventually allowing simplifications into a drawn rook endgame.

Rapport was a bit better, but like everyone else was met with stiff opposition. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Xiong - So | ½-½, 56 moves

The final game of the round to finish saw Xiong utilizing the London System, as he managed to put So under some pressure in the middlegame thanks to his better piece coordination. So defended well, and although Xiong missed a few chances to increase his edge he was never close to winning, as the game eventually petered out into a drawn bishops of opposite color endgame.

After stunning Caruana in Round 5, Xiong could not make it two in a row. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Round 7 of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup will take place Tuesday, August 24, starting at 2:50 PM CDT with all of the action covered live by commentators GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, and GM Maurice Ashley. Watch live on grandchesstour.org as well as twitch.tv/kasparovchess.