Sinquefield Cup Day 3: Caruana, So, MVL Lead With 2.5/3

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Four of the five games in round three of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup were decisive. Wins by GMs Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Wesley So keep them in the lead of the pack with 2.5/3.

GM Richard Rapport lost a heartbreaker to GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, while the only draw of the round was between the two American GMs Jeffery Xiong and Leinier Dominguez Perez.

Sinquefield Cup | Day 3 Standings

2021 sinquefield cup standingsAs predicted, the quiet second round yesterday was the calm before the storm. The rating favorites all had White today, and they went after their opponents hard.

The first of them to succeed was So who didn’t encounter many difficulties in creating a thematic English Opening win against GM Peter Svidler. I’ll leave this game to be analyzed by GM Dejan Bojkov, and will only mention that Svidler didn’t seem well prepared to meet So’s knight maneuver, Nd2-f1-e3.

Dejan Bojkov GotDFull Analysis Coming Soon.

Last week Caruana delighted us with many beautiful positional games played in fast time controls. In the Sinquefield Cup, Fabi is not hurried by the clock and he can paint with his trademark broad strokes. His unfortunate opponent, GM Dariusz Swiercz, had a difficult position out the opening.

When Swierzcz had his chances, he missed them all. 0/3 is a catastrophic start in any case, but I am particularly concerned with the way Swiercz loses his games without putting up much of a fight. Something has to be done, and done soon.

2021 sinquefield cup
Caruana had another nice win today. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Vachier-Lagrave defeated GM Sam Shankland after the American misjudged a pawn endgame. Former World Champion GM Garry Kasparov once said, “it is the responsibility of every top player to accurately calculate all possible pawn endgames to the end.” A tall order it is, and we still remember how Garry himself failed in that task in his last classical time control game against GM Veselin Topalov in Linares.

This tournament is only a third of the way through, and we already had two games unnecessarily lost because Swiercz yesterday and Shankland today didn’t pass the pawn endgame test. At any rate, the game was interesting from start to finish, and I am happy to share my thoughts with you.

I’m a bit put off by Xiong’s choice of a toothless line of the Scotch against Dominguez. Why would a young player avoid a full-fledged battle when he has the white pieces? It is not like Xiong gets to play in top-flight events all the time. Every game represents a chance for him to make a statement, and today it was a dud.

2021 Sinquefield cup naycir!
Nigarhan Gurpinar interviewing Dominguez after an easy day at the office. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

And finally, we come to my favorite game of the day. Mamedyarov-Rapport was a tense battle, where most of the tactics remained in the background. Both players deserve a lot of credit for their fighting spirit, as they avoided simplifications at any cost. Richard made a big blunder right before the time control, and of course, Shakh didn’t let him off the hook.

2021 Sinquefield cup
Rapport lost a tough game today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Now Mamedyarov joins Dominguez at 2/3. They both trail the trio of leaders by half a point. We can already see a line drawn across the standings that separates the pre-tournament favorites from the lower-rated wildcards.

I don’t know about you, but I always root for the underdog so I hope we’ll be seeing some upsets soon.

All Games Day 3

The 2021 Sinquefield Cup tournament is the last stop of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. Games started on August 17 with 10 of the best chess players in the world competing for a piece of the $325,000 prize fund.

You can read more information about the event here.


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