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Alireza Firouzja is now a heavy favorite to win the Grand Chess Tour – Sinquefield Cup R8 recap

It was a pivotal day for the standings as Alireza Firouzja survived a difficult position to score an important victory over Wesley So, overtaking the lead in the penultimate round of the Sinquefield Cup. It was then not long after that Ian Nepomniachtchi joined Firouzja in first place, after he defeated Levon Aronian in a highly tactical game.

Going into the final round, Firouzja is now a heavy favorite to win the 2022 Grand Chess Tour, as his performance in the Sinquefield Cup will likely place him ahead of current leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the overall standings.

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.

Standings after Round 8 (Caruana will have a bye-round tomorrow and finish on 4.5/8)

Round 8 Results

FIROUZJA – SO | 1-0, 32 moves

A theoretical Italian saw Firouzja surprisingly get into trouble out of the opening, as So snagged the initiative with the strong attacking plan of 14…Nh5 & 15…Qf6. Going after White’s king, So then sacrificed a bishop on h3, which was not the most promising continuation but one that left Black with a comfortable game, as Firouzja was forced to give back the piece in order to avoid getting mated. But an uncharacteristic blunder by So allowed Firouzja an immediate tactical win, ending up with two extra pawns and a completely winning endgame. Replay the game here

Read more: Alireza Firouzja after beating Wesley So: Somehow I am getting lucky

After 25.Ba3!, forcing the queen back with 25…Qb6, Firouzja blew Black’s position wide open with 26.e6!, winning after 26…c5 27.exf7+ Kxf7 28.Qd7+ Kf8 29.Qd5+-
A second “come-from-behind” win by Firouzja, who now seems very likely to win the 2022 Grand Chess Tour. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes


Opting for a sharp line against Nepomniachtchi’s Petroff Defense, Aronian seemingly mixed something up in the opening, as after 12.Nbd7 f5 13.Qb3 Rf7! Black already stood better, with an extremely powerful knight in the center. Aronian’s situation then went from bad to worse as Nepomniachtchi capitalized on his large strategic advantage to win two healthy pawns, but a later slip by Nepo allowed White back into the game. Aronian had compensation for the missing pawns, but a crucial mistake on move 40 allowed Nepomniachtchi to consolidate his material advantage.

After 43…Ne6, although Black’s king looks open, White is unable to generate any real threats, and Black is winning thanks to the powerful passed pawns in the center.
Nepo is now tied for first overall, and will face Niemann with White in the last round. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

NIEMANN – CARUANA | 0-1, 69 moves

A somewhat unorthodox line in the English left Niemann a little better after the opening, but a hasty decision (21.g4) opened up too many weaknesses on the kingside. A strong decision by Caruana (21…Ba5) then allowed him to seize the e4-square, exploiting White’s overextended position. This put Niemann under tremendous pressure, as he soon had to give up the exchange. Following a nice tactic by Caruana which forced the queens off, White was left with decent drawing chances, but after some moving around in circles by Black Niemann’s defenses eventually slipped and Caruana was able to convert the endgame. Replay the game here

After Caruana’s 34…Qxd4!, with idea 35…Nf3+ on any recapture, winning the queen back.
A decent finish for Caruana, who will end on “plus 1”. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

DOMINGUEZ – MAMEDYAROV | ½-½, 85 moves

An Open Ruy left Dominguez with a small plus out of the opening, as Black’s far advanced pawn on d3 seemed to be more of a weakness than a strength. With skillful maneuvering Dominguez ended up collecting the pawn, and then started to nurse his long-term advantage. Eventually the players traded into a queen endgame, with excellent winning chances for White. As the game entered sudden death, Dominguez managed to break through, creating three passed pawns on the kingside, but allowing Mamedyarov a passed pawn on the queenside in return. This counterplay caused Dominguez to blunder his advantage away, as one wrong move allowed Mamedyarov to force a draw by perpetual check.

Final position in Dominguez – Mamedyarov–Black has a perpetual with Qd1+/Qh1+, and it’s important for White not to play Kh4??, where Kf5! would force mate-in-2
Another missed chance for Dominguez, who was previously winning against both Nepo & Niemann. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller
In light of recent controversy, some fans came out to show their support for Hans Niemann. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The 2022 Sinquefield Cup concludes Sunday, September 11, starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, and Alejandro Ramirez here.

The timetable of events related to Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup 2022:

5-SepBREAKING: Magnus Carlsen withdraws from the Sinquefield Cup 2022
5-SepPossible reasons of Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup 2022
5-SepHans Niemann was thoroughly checked before the fourth round of the Sinquefield Cup (VIDEO)
5-SepSinquefield Cup’s players and organizers react to Carlsen’s withdrawal from the tournament
5-SepHans Niemann R4 post-game interview: At least I got to beat Magnus Carlsen before he left
6-SepSinquefield Cup 2022 improves anti-cheating measures after Carlsen’s withdrawal
6-SepFabiano Caruana: Can’t wait to hear more about the Hans effect on The Magnus Effect
6-SepReactions to Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup 2022
6-SepNiemann’s emotional confession R5 post-game interview: I cheated in random games on and this was the biggest mistake in my life
7-SepReactions to Hans Niemann’s interview
7-SepHans Niemann: I’d like to see what Nakamura has to say now
8-SepHans Niemann R6 post-game interview: The silence of my critics speaks for itself
8-SepElon Musk comments on accusations towards Hans Niemann
8-SepGarry Kasparov about Carlsen’s withdrawal: It’s an act with no precedent in the past 50 years explains its decision to remove Hans Niemann from the platform in the official statement
9-SepDaniel Rensch about’s statement: This tweet speaks for itself
9-SepHikaru Nakamura reacts to Hans Niemann’s interview
9-SepSusan Polgar about Niemann – Carlsen case: The professional reputation of many parties is at stake
9-SepGarry Kasparov: Unless the chess world is to be dragged down into endless pathetic rumors, clear statements must be made
9-SepNiemann keeps analyzing his game with MVL while getting checked with the anti-cheating device (VIDEO)
9-SepHans Niemann R7 post-game interview: It is absolutely ridiculous to play chess under these conditions
10-SepHikaru Nakamura and Daniel Naroditsky speak about cheating in chess
10-SepHans Niemann’s fans gather in front of the Saint Louis Chess Club
10-SepSinquefield Cup Chief Arbiter’s statement: We have no indication that any player has been playing unfairly in the Sinquefield Cup 2022

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