Sinquefield Cup Scenes: 3 Leaders After 3 Rounds

Sinquefield Cup Scenes: 3 Leaders After 3 Rounds


The 2017 Sinquefield Cup is what we have waited for all year... and it is only heating up. We see Magnus Carlsen dispatch his former World Championship rival Sergey Karjakin right after time control while Fabiano Caruana delivers a 110-move victory over Levon Aronian using his substantial endgame knowledge. We also see Wesley So suffer a rare loss against MVL, though he bounces right back on track with a win against the struggling Ian Nepomniachtchi. The Sinquefield Cup is among the most highly anticipated tournaments of the year, and I am honored as a top blogger to review the first portion of the event and hope you attain something from it. 

Aronian, So face dramatic starts in St. Louis

Levon Aronian won the 2015 Sinquefield Cup with a final score of 6/9 and did not fail to disappoint in round 1. 


With 10. Ra4!, Levon makes his intentions clear: active piece play on the Queenside. When a player of Levon's caliber breaks the fundamental moves of the opening (moving the h-pawn, not committing to casting, etc), we can safely say a fight is looming. Note the Bishop on a3 is not to be captured due to Ra4, trapping the Black lady. Here is the rest of the game with some notes:

Please note: I am obviously not an expert at analyzing high-level games. The news report will have much more elaborate analysis for the games.

Wesley So opened the tournament with a rare loss to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, So's final round opponent on his 2016 Sinquefield Cup victorious session. 

Though tough for Wesley, he did, as a true champion would, recover 180 degrees with a win over the luckless Nepomniachtchi who began the tournament on a unsatisfactory 0.5/3 score. Five players started the tournament with 1/2, though only two of them transpired with two draws. 

Sergey flops World Championship rematch

Sergey Karjakin began the event with a solid win over his Russian rival Peter Svidler though was dispatched in style by World Champion Magnus Carlsen the very next game.


If only the other games in the World Championship duel were as spectacular as this. Magnus displays 35. f5! and GM Robert Hess' single word to describe this in his analysis is "devastating". And indeed this is crushing, as White obliterates the Black King with his pieces. The rest of the game shown below:

Caruana presses for endgame win over Aronian

Our chess coaches may advise us to train tactics, study opening books, or review Grandmaster games. And while any accomplished player has not failed to study the endgame to an extent, these 2800+ GMs deeply absorb endgames... and know them as well. When did Caruana think he would next see this endgame? His knowledge suited him for a co-lead of the 2017 Sinquefield Cup.


As explained in the news article, Black's Rc4+ forced immediate resignation. Wherever White's King goes (h5 or h3), Rc2 will deliver mate on the h-file. Note the Bishop covers key squares.

PS. I still do not know this endgame by heart... though it is a good one to learn... who knows when you will face it! 

Five draws followed the flashy two rounds, though it was obvious the players had not lost that fighting spirit, though I don't have time right now to show the games.

What we have learned from Sinquefield Cup rounds 1-3

  • As was stated before, the players came to St. Louis to battle. You don't see Aronian's opening vs. Nepomniachtchi every day!
  • I think Magnus Carlsen has cooled off his hot head seeing him speak to Maurice Ashley over the course of the event.
  • It is clear Nepomniachtchi has mimicked Peter Svidler's start from last year. Nepo started 0-2 and got on the scoreboard with a draw against Fabiano... a similar result to Peter's from last year.
  • Magnus and Sergey played twelve classical games in New York last year... and only two of them produced winners. The two have played once in St. Louis, which was a win or the WC. It appears this matchup was especially tense for both players as they wanted more from each other since their meetup in NYC.

Looking ahead:

Round four's pivotal matchup will consist of Carlsen vs. MVL with both having two points and the shared lead. It is also worth noting Caruana will have a tough (on the board and possibly psychologically) matchup against Sergey Karjakin. Round five will see that "dream" matchup between Carlsen and So, and Carlsen will take on Nakamura in round 6. MVL and Caruana (both with 2/3) will also meet in round 6.

You are finally finished reading. Again, I would advise you check out the news section for much deeper and high-quality analysis regarding the event. I will try and post again after round 6.

I doubt this post was flawless, so please let me know of any mistakes worth mentioning, and I will edit. Thanks for reading!