2016

Sinquefield Cup Round 3 Report

Day three of the 2016 Sinquefield Cup was very peaceful, but not without some fireworks. Much to everyone’s surprise, Topalov blundered a simple tactic right out of the opening, but his opponent, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, did not find the most precise continuation and only drew the game.Anish Giri got extremely adventurous against Ding Liren, but the latter also settled for a draw instead of playing for a win by marching his king down the board.

Levon Aronian unleashed the preparation he had been saving for months, but it was only enough to draw with black.

After suffering two losses, Peter Svidler had some real chances against Fabiano Caruana, but the U.S. Champion once again managed to escape with half a point.

Nakamura and Anand had the most balanced game out of the round, with the former World Champion having a slight edge at one point. Aronian, So, Anand and Topalov are now tied for the lead with 2/3.

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Aronian-So

Wesley So – Levon Aronian ½ – ½

Levon Aronian played a line he had prepared some time ago and sacrificed two minor pieces for a rook. Such an imbalance usually favors the side with the minor pieces, but Wesley So was behind in development. Aronian had one opportunity in the game to take advantage of white’s awkwardly placed pieces. After the missed opportunity, Aronian gave his rook back for two minor pieces and the game was drawn soon after.

Viswanathan Anand – Hikaru Nakamura ½ – ½

Vishy Anand made the very unusual decision of giving up the bishop pair in an open position. He found an interesting idea to attack on the kingside and placed his knight on e7, not allowing his opponent to castle. Hikaru Nakamura kept his cool and equalized the position without much trouble by exchanging all the minor pieces, resulting in a drawn rook exchange.

Liren-Giri

Anish Giri – Ding Liren ½ – ½

Anish Giri was slightly better for the first half of the game but missed a very nice positional exchange sacrifice that allowed black to have long term compensation. At some point, the Dutchman felt that his opponent wasn’t playing the most optimal moves and decided to sacrifice the exchange back for a chance to attack. This allowed Black to have some real winning chances but it meant running his king down the board, which is a scary decision. Of course, the computers calculated out the win, but for a human being playing such moves is not easy. Instead, he allowed his opponent to give a perpetual.

Veselin Topalov – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½ – ½

The players blitzed out 26 moves of theory and surprisingly Veselin Topalov’s first move out of theory was a blunder. He himself seemed surprised as he had looked at the position the night before and knew that the move was a  blunder, but for some reason played it anyway. In the postgame interview, he joked that his plan wasn’t to get a pawn down position out of the opening with white. The Frenchman went for the most obvious continuation missing a subtlety that would have given him a big advantage. He was up a pawn in knight vs bishop endgame, but his opponent had enough counter play to draw the game.

Caruana

Peter Svidler  – Fabiano Caruana ½ – ½

Fabiano Caruana made a couple of inaccuracies in the opening and was worse during the endgame. Peter Svidler played what looked like natural moves, but missed some more precise continuation to gain a bigger edge. Svidler was up a pawn, but instead of staying up a clear pawn and keeping more pieces on the board, he traded down to a rook ending with an extra pawn. A rook ending with 4 pawns for one side and 3 pawns on the opposite side can be a real struggle for amateurs, but the U.S. Champion defended without any complications and the game was a fairly simple draw.

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