The 2022 Sinquefield Cup kicked off with a bang today as World Champion Magnus Carlsen defeated World No.3 Ian Nepomniachtchi in a clean first round game. Meanwhile, all four other games in the round were drawn, netting Carlsen the early lead in the final stop of the 2022 Grand Chess Tour.
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game; with a 30-second increment starting from move 1.
Round 1 Results
The event launched Thursday evening with an exciting opening ceremony, held at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park, that featured a clock simul with the participants of the Sinquefield Cup playing against local juniors and special guests. The opening also included a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship Match, along with a musical performance by Brian Owens.
Carlsen faces off against IM Eric Rosen from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup opening ceremony. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller
CARLSEN - NEPOMNIACHTCHI | 1-0, 43 moves
In a rematch of the 2021 World Championship, Carlsen chose a quiet line of the Queen’s Gambit Declined and did not achieve much out of the opening as the queens came off early. However the endgame seemed to suit Carlsen’s style, as he slowly put Nepo under pressure and started to improve his position. Nepomniachtchi tried to hold the draw by sacrificing a pawn, but it wasn’t enough as Magnus kept his initiative and a further mistake by Nepo left Black losing a second pawn and ending up in a hopeless position.
After Carlsen’s 36.Bb1!, Black was losing a second pawn on d5 by force. | 1-0, 43 moves
Carlsen: “I think I did well in creating a situation that was not pleasant for him but certainly he could have done better.” | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
FIROUZJA - CARUANA | ½-½, 34 moves
In a Symmetrical English that featured the rare move 5.Qb3, things quickly got heated as at first it was Firouzja, then Caruana who fell into some difficulties. It seems as though Firouzja missed his chance to pose more serious problems later on, letting Caruana escape into a drawn rook endgame.
Caruana: “After 16…f5, I started to get worried that I would get a very bad position, but then he surprised me with 17.Bh3 (instead of 17.Ke2)–after that I thought I should be OK.”
World No. 4 Firouzja had Caruana sweating today, but could not maximize his chances. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
NIEMANN - ARONIAN | ½-½, 50 moves
Tournament newcomer GM Hans Niemann, who replaced GM Richard Rapport at the last second before the event, started off well in his first game, catching Aronian in a rare line (6.a4) of the 5.Re1 Berlin. While Niemann gained a large strategic advantage on the board, thanks to his extra space and more active minor pieces, he fell behind on the clock and eventually lost his advantage, allowing Aronian off the hook with a three-fold repetition.
After 26.Qe1, Hans’ position looked fantastic, but Aronian managed to wriggle out. | ½-½, 50 moves
Despite being the lowest rated player in the field, GM Hans Niemann is off to a solid start. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
MAMEDYAROV - SO | ½-½, 65 moves
An interesting strategic battle in the trendy 5…cxd4 line of the Semi-Tarrasch saw Mamedyarov with a small positional advantage, as he tried to make the most of his slightly superior structure. But So defended well, and Shakhriyar could only end up with an extra pawn in a drawish rook and knight vs. rook and bishop endgame, which soon ended peacefully.
A long fight which nearly came down to bare kings in Mamedyarov - So. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
DOMINGUEZ - VACHIER-LAGRAVE | ½-½, 72 moves
The last game of the round to finish featured the English Attack of the Najdorf, the same variation which earned Dominguez the brilliancy prize in last year’s Sinquefield Cup. Once again Dominguez was much better prepared, gaining nearly an hour edge on the clock, but he wasn’t able to fully capitalize on his advantage. An exchange sacrifice by Dominguez left him with enough compensation for equality, but not more, and the game eventually petered out into a draw.
The 2021 Sinquefield Cup champion managed to defend a difficult position. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
Today’s special guests included American rapper Logic, who stopped by to watch the games. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
Professional hockey player Robert Thomas of the St. Louis Blues also showed up during Round 1. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
The 2022 Sinquefield Cup continues Saturday, September 3, starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, and Alejandro Ramirez on grandchesstour.org and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.