Sinquefield Cup Day 4: Dominguez Advances To Share Lead After Caruana, So Draw


In round four of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup, GM Leinier Dominguez Perez crushed GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a decisive fashion in the latter’s favorite Najdorf Sicilian to leapfrog into a first-place tie with fellow Americans GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Wesley So. GM Richard Rapport bounced back after a tough loss yesterday by downing GM Peter Svidler. Wins by GM Sam Shankland and GM Dariusz Swiercz lifted them out of the cellar.

Sinquefield | Day 4 Standings

Sinquefield Standings after day four

It was a brave decision on Dominguez’s part to challenge Vachier-Lagrave in the Najdorf Sicilian, the main opening in his opponent’s repertoire. Leinier issued the English Attack and followed the existing theory for about 20 moves before uncorking his prepared novelty.

The win enabled Dominguez to switch places with the man he just defeated. While scoring points against the bottom-half players is nice, games between the contenders decide the outcome of tournaments.

Another mating attack brought White a victory in Rapport-Svidler. Peter is really having a hard time in St. Louis, likely due to the brutal schedule of events here. Last week he played 27 games of rapid and blitz, and now he’s looking at five rounds in a row before a rest day, which is tough for a 44-year-old player, no matter who he is. It didn’t help that there was a lot of pressure on his position skillfully applied by his fearless opponent.

Rapport didn’t make us wait long before redeeming himself for yesterday’s debacle. The way Richard is going, I don’t think the remaining contestants on his schedule can take their games with him lightly. There are dangers everywhere when you play Rapport.

GM Richard Rapport
Rapport creates dangers for every opponent. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The game between the leaders, Caruana-So, was a bit of an up-and-down affair. First it seemed Fabiano had a better knowledge of the opening line in the English. Caruana was able to obtain the bishop pair without spoiling his pawns. Then it was Wesley’s turn to play well to fully equalize the game, but after a mistake or two, he arrived in a difficult position. It was either Caruana’s inaccuracy or So’s good defense, but it all leveled out by the time they reached the time control. Draw.

I wrote in my report yesterday that I root for the underdog. Little did I know that my wishes would come through the very next day. Shankland and Swiercz tasted their first victories at the expense of GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and GM Jeffery Xiong, respectively.

Shankland’s game was the triumph of fighting spirit. Sam got next to nothing out of the opening, but he kept on finding good moves and soon was able to bend the game to his will. Mamedyarov’s play, on the other hand, appeared unusually flat and uninspired.

I wish I had the time to analyze the last game to finish today, but there’s none, and I also need to step aside to let GM Dejan Bojkov strut his stuff.

GM Dejan Bojkov
Full analysis coming soon.

Because some readers posted comments about my being too hard on poor Swiercz, I would like to offer the following sentiments. I’d like to think he took my criticism in a positive way and responded to it well, but most likely, he just never reads my reports. In any case, in round four, we saw the real Swiercz in action. There were some mistakes, and Xiong may lament his missing chances toward the end of the game, but a win is a win, and it was badly needed by the player who had yet lit the scoreboard after three rounds of play. Way to go, Dariusz!

All Games Day 4

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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