Recap Article

2021 Sinquefield Cup – Day 8 Recap

With all five games drawn today American Grandmaster Wesley So clinched 1st place in the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. After today's round, he secured himself a minimum of 7 GCT points from the Sinquefield Cup and can no longer be mathematically caught in the overall tour standings. For his efforts, So earns the $100,000 first place bonus prize.

Vachier-Lagrave – So | ½-½, 50 moves

A sharp piece of preparation put So under pressure in the 5.Re1 Berlin, but he managed to defend precisely and slowly equalize by forcing trades along the e-file. Having a half-point lead in the event, MVL decided not to risk too much, and acquiesced to a draw after all the exchanges.

Caruana – Svidler | ½-½, 42 moves

Caruana essayed an interesting line (6.e5) in the Giuoco Piano, and was able to achieve a small strategic plus, having the better side of a middlegame with opposite colored bishops. However Svidler defended accurately, not letting White get any initiative, and once the queens were exchanged neither side was left with any real winning chances.

Xiong – Mamedyarov | ½-½, 34 moves

The players discussed the topical 3…a6 variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, as Mamedyarov gave himself an isolated queen pawn in exchange for long-term piece activity. While the game stayed equal for some time, it was due to open up once the players approached the first time control. As the players entered mutual time-trouble the fireworks started, with Mamedyarov sacrificing an exchange in order to start a direct attack against White’s king. Xiong then missed the best chance to squash Black’s initiative, and instead played a move that was winning in all lines but allowed a fantastic saving resource that Mamedyarov soon found. Black was then able to force a draw by perpetual check.

Dominguez – Shankland | ½-½, 32 moves

This game featured a quiet line of the English Attack (6.Be3) in the Najdorf, with Dominguez looking to outplay Shankland in strategic fashion. But Shankland handled the middlegame just fine, and even managed to reach a slightly better endgame according to the engines. During mutual time-trouble, the players started to repeat moves in a position that appeared equal, but as it turned out both players missed a winning resource for Shankland, overlooking a key tactical detail. Instead, the game was soon drawn by repetition.

Swiercz – Rapport | ½-½, 50 moves

A balanced London middlegame quickly turned sharp when Rapport decided to recapture a piece with gxf6, doubling his pawns on the f-file in exchange for an open g-file. Black’s enterprising play wasn’t really enough to pose serious problems for White, as Swiercz remained better throughout the game, but he wasn’t able to increase his advantage substantially, and the players eventually simplified into a drawn rook endgame. With the draw, So’s GCT victory was secured, as Rapport will no longer be able to pass him in the tournament standings.


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