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Wesley So takes the lead in the Sinquefield Cup 2022 as Carlsen’s results get annulled

The day started with shocking news as it was announced that World Champion Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup prior to the start of his Round 4 game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Carlsen did not yet give a specific reason for his withdrawal, tweeting the following statement.

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

Since Carlsen’s withdrawal from the event comes before the first half, his results will be annulled and the tournament will proceed with nine players. Following the day’s round, Wesley So became the new leader of the event (2.5/4) after drawing with Ian Nepomniachtchi. In the remaining games, only Fabiano Caruana could score a victory, grinding a 92-move win in a queen ending against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

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.

Mamedyarov did not get a chance to play today. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
Standings after Round 4
Round 4 Results

NIEMANN – FIROUZJA | ½-½, 43 moves

The game started out as a quiet Italian but got very sharp as Niemann offered an interesting piece sacrifice with 19.Qg3, which after a long thought Firouzja declined, falling into a much worse position. A further exchange sacrifice left Niemann with a large advantage, but he failed to maintain his edge, allowing Firouzja to trade off one of White’s bishops. After that it was Black who was slightly better, but Firouzja decided to give his extra exchange back and liquidate into a draw. Replay the game here

After Niemann’s 19.Qg3!, offering the knight on c4–in case of 19…dxc4 20.Bxh6 g6 21.Bg5 f6! would leave things quite unclear.
The battle of juniors, Niemann – Firouzja. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Caruana – Vachier-Lagrave | 1-0, 92 moves

The longest game of the event so far started out in a topical line of the English Attack (6.Be3) in the Najdorf. Caruana came well-prepared and was nearly winning out of the opening, but missed his best opportunities and instead ended up in a queen endgame with an extra pawn. The position still offered excellent winning chances for White, and although the evaluation swung to 0.00 a few times, the defense was incredibly difficult for MVL to maintain, and Caruana eventually converted his way to a win.

In the post-game interview, Caruana commented on Carlsen’s decision. See the complete interview here

After 92.a7+, the final position of Caruana-MVL. If Black takes the pawn either way, White can force a winning king + pawn endgame.
A marathon win for Caruana, who is now tied for 2nd place. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Aronian – Dominguez | ½-½, 35 moves

An early Bc4 Sicilian left Aronian with a tiny plus out of the opening, but not enough to put serious pressure on Dominguez. Although White had a space advantage, Black’s control over the a-file gave him ample counterplay, and the players repeated moves shortly before move 40.

Aronian shared his thoughts on Carlsen’s case which shocked all the players of the Sinquefield Cup: “All of my colleagues are paranoid“. See the interview here

Aronian was a bit better today, but could not find a way to achieve more. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Nepomniachtchi – So | ½-½, 25 moves

A highly theoretical Catalan saw Nepomniachtchi “testing” So’s preparation, going for a sharp line that leads to a forced draw if both sides play correctly. So “passed” the memory test, and the game was soon drawn by repetition. “Everyone was kind of distracted by the fact that Magnus didn’t show up today”, said So after the game.

See the Sinquefield Cup’s players and organizers reaction to Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal here

After 18…Qa7!, hanging the knight on c6, with idea 19.Qxc6 Rb6! forcing a repetition: 20.b3 Bf8 (20…Rxc6 21.Nxc6+=) 21.Qa4 Ra6 22.Qb5 Rb6=
Wesley So had zero issues in today’s game. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The 2022 Sinquefield Cup continues Tuesday, September 6, with live coverage from grandmasters Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, and Alejandro Ramirez starting at 12:50 PM CT here.

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