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)
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
ARONIAN – NEPOMNIACHTCHI | 0-1, 52 moves
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.
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
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.
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: