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Calm before the storm; Four draws at the Sinquefield Cup 2022 – R5 recap

While all four games of the round were drawn it seems the biggest move of the day happened during the post-game interview with GM Hans Niemann, as he passionately responded to the recent speculations made about him following Carlsen’s departure from the Sinquefield Cup. 

The story so far: Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup 2022 without detailed explanations. Possible reasons of Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal can be found here. Sinquefield Cup’s players and organizers reacted to Carlsen’s decision with Fabiano Caruana tweeting that he can’t wait to see the Hans effect on The Magnus Effect. Hans Niemann was shocked by Carlsen’s withdrawal and explained that he couldn’t even focus on his fourth round game against Firouzja. In the post-game interview, Hans added: At least I got to beat Magnus Carlsen before he left. Magnus Carlsen’s results were annulled after his withdrawal and Wesley So took the lead in the tournament.

Niemann admitted to cheating online in the past, but claimed that he had learned his lesson and has never cheated in an over-the-board game. Niemann then accused Carlsen, Nakamura, and of targeting him in the must-watch interview. See the complete interview with GM Hans Niemann here

Heading into the rest day, GM Wesley So continues to lead the event with 3.0/5, with four rounds left to play. 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 5
Round 5 Results

DOMINGUEZ – NIEMANN | ½-½, 33 moves

Another quiet Italian left Niemann a bit worse out of the opening, as he tried the unusual 11…c5 but ended up with a passive position. A further mistake (15…Bb8) by Niemann allowed Dominguez to seize a serious strategic plus, with more space and control over the c-file. Dominguez increased his advantage to a decisive one in the endgame, but a poor decision to trade off the knights allowed Niemann back into the game, as he then held the rook endgame with ease.

After 36…Nb5, Dominguez gave up most of his advantage with 37.Nxb5 instead of the far stronger 27.Ne6+!, keeping a dominant knight on the board.
A spirited Niemann fired back at both Carlsen and Nakamura, and even revealed that he had been uninvited from’s Global Chess Championship following his game against Magnus. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

MAMEDYAROV – CARUANA | ½-½, 43 moves

Incredible “high-tech” preparation in the Ragozin Defense by Caruana left Mamedyarov nearly 50 minutes behind on time, as he tried to navigate through all the complications. The critical moment came on move 22, when Caruana offered a queen sacrifice  (22…Qxf1+) with his full 90 minutes still on the clock. Mamedyarov declined the sacrifice, opting instead to go into a very drawish endgame a pawn down. After the game Mamedyarov explained his decision, indicating that “when your opponent knows everything”, “it is better to be down a pawn than with an extra queen.”

After 22…Qxf1+, in case of 23.Nxf1 Bg4+ 24. Ke3 Rf4! provides Black full compensation for the queen. Instead, Mamedyarov chose the far safer 23.Qxf1, as the players soon liquidated everything into a draw
“Very good preparation by Caruana, very good defense by Mamedyarov” said Mamedyarov in jest after the game.  | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes


A theoretical Petroff saw Nepomniachtchi demonstrate excellent preparation to neutralize MVL’s attempts for an advantage. While the endgame looked a bit worse optically for Black, in reality there were no issues and Nepo held without particular trouble.

After the game, Vachier-Lagrave commented on the reaction to Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup, referring to the recent treatment of Niemann as a “witch hunt”:

SO – ARONIAN | ½-½, 43 moves

A Catalan featuring 5…c5 saw the players head for a theoretical endgame, with a small edge for White but not more. Around move 17, Aronian decided to sacrifice a pawn, which So accepted but at the cost of his own development. As a result So was never able to fully mobilize, and eventually gave the pawn back to force a draw.

Amidst all the drama, So continues to quietly lead the tournament. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The 2022 Sinquefield Cup continues Thursday, September 8, with live coverage from grandmasters Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, and Alejandro Ramirez starting at 12:50 PM CT here.

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