Sinquefield Cup Round 7: Vachier-Lagrave Takes The Lead

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A quick win by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave over GM Jeffery Xiong in round seven of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup put him on top of the leaderboard with 5/7. This is the first time in the entire tournament that we have had a sole leader.

GM Fabiano Caruana defeated GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and joined GMs Wesley So and Lenier Dominguez at 4.5/7. GM Peter Svidler finally celebrated his first win of the tournament by downing GM Dariusz Swiercz.

Sinquefield Cup | Round 7 Standings

2021 sinquefield round 7 standings

The first game to finish was a draw between GM Richard Rapport and Dominguez. Before you dismiss it as another grandmaster draw, take a look at the crazy opening line, followed by a sharp queenless middlegame, and I bet you will appreciate the effort put up by the players.

Dominguez has retained his position among the leaders, while Rapport is likely out of the race for the top spots. No doubt, Richard would like to get another win to lift himself over a 50 percent mark, and I eagerly anticipate his game with Caruana scheduled for the last round.

Fabiano helped his cause by winning with Black against an off-form Mamedyarov. This game was very complex from the start, and I wish I had my colleague, GM Dejan Bojkov, to help me out, but no such luck. I hope my skimpy notes can provide some insight into what happened.

2021 Sinquefield cup round 7
GM Fabiano Caruana won a nice game in the seventh round. Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club

Fabiano’s heroics were not enough to put him back into a first-place tie, because Vachier-Lagrave won his game, and did it rather quickly. Xiong only made one mistake in his handling of the Berlin, but it was enough for Vachier-Lagrave to earn the full point and take the lead in the tournament.

This is how the tournament finally got a clear leader. MVL won the Sinquefield Cup in 2017 in a much stronger field (So and Nepo shared last place that year), and he’s no stranger to pressure situations. It would take a massive effort from Caruana, Dominguez, and So to finish ahead of Vachier-Lagrave.

Sometimes I’m surprised with the ease with which Wesley So wins some games, and even more with how easily he lets go of some others. The position he achieved after 18 moves of play promised way more than Wesley was able to deliver. I shouldn’t forget to compliment GM Sam Shankland, who once again showed a marked improvement in all areas of chess, this time in defense.

So has a tough finish: MVL with Black and Dominguez with White, and he’s probably not the favorite to win the whole thing, but I think Wesley is cool with that—Wesley is cool with everything.

The game between the two players who occupied last place wins my game of the day honors. You won’t be surprised when you see it. Svidler put on a total masterclass of how to coordinate your pieces and take advantage of the lack of the same in the opponent’s camp.

2021 Sinquefield Cup round 7
GM Peter Svidler earned his first win in the Sinquefield Cup. Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Yermolinsky game of the day chess.com

Swiercz must be wondering what else can go wrong for him in Saint Louis. As if the four losses he had already suffered weren’t enough, today he was on the receiving end of Svidler’s best game in the tournament. What can you do, sometimes the very gods of chess seem to conspire against you.

Two more rounds to go, stay tuned.

All Games Round 7

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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