Recap Article

2016 Sinquefield Cup Recap Day 1

The third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the fourth annual Sinquefield Cup, started off with fireworks. The first round promised to be an exciting one as the two leaders of the tour, Americans Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, were paired up. Last year, in the Sinquefield cup, Nakamura defeated So in fashion, delivering checkmate on the board. A year late, So got his revenge and took the sole read of the tour. The third American, Fabiano Caruana, had a solid draw against five-time world champion Vishy Anand. The two wild cards of the event, Peter Svidler and Ding Liren, did not seem very confident today, as the former blundered and the latter admitted to feeling shaken up after several bad results. The newest #2 player in the world, Vachier-Lagrave, who has gained almost 100 rating points in the past year, managed to escape with a draw in a much worse position.

Ding Liren – Levon Aronian 1/2

The encounter between the newcomer and the defending champion was quite uneventful and was the first result of the day. While waiting to be interviewed, Aronian joked that even after playing such a boring game, people still want to hear him talk. During the interview, he kept the jokes going by saying that when playing such a boring game, one prays that it’s over and this time it worked out well. Even so, the Armenian can’t complain about a solid game with the black pieces. On the other hand, Ding Liren seemed to be pleased with the result as he explained that lately he hasn’t had good events and needs to build up his confidence.

Veselin Topalov – Peter Svidler 1-0

Even with his subpar result in the tour so far, Topalov always seems to be in good spirits and ready to play. During the game, he visited the confession box just to say “hi”, which the fans enjoyed thoroughly. The game seemed to go quite smoothly for the Bulgarian as he was always comfortable. Peter Svidler, another fresh face at the tour, simply blundered at the end. Topalov felt that Svidler was still jetlagged, thus explaining his oversight.

Wesley So – Hikaru Nakamura 1-0

This was definitely the biggest result of the round. Going into the round, both Americans were leading the tour. Not only did the win give Wesley So the clear lead, but it was also the first time he had ever defeated Nakamura in a classical time control. The game was a complicated Catalan where So sacrificed two pawns and Nakamura sacrificed an exchange back just to fix his pawn structure. Unfortunately for Nakamura, the resulting endgame was quite bad for him and Wesley finished the game off with perfect technique.

Anish Giri – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½

For a long time both the commentators and the engines favored white. The two young players played down a well known theoretical line in the Najdorf. Black seemed to have misplayed it a little as white won a clear pawn and had the advantage. The Dutchman failed to convert the point and blundered a tactic, allowing world’s #2 player find a drawing idea.

Viswanathan Anand – Fabiano Caruana ½

The US champion delivered the first surprise in the game as he chose the French defense with the black pieces. Trying to avoid any kind of preparation, Anand chose the quieter and less challenging exchange variation. In the confession box, Caruana admitted that he did not expect Anand’s choice but still felt comfortable in his position. The game was quite balanced and ended with a queen sacrifice that forced a perpetual.


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GM Gukesh D & GM Viswanathan Anand
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