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Sinquefield Cup Day 5: Vachier-Lagrave Joins Leaders As Caruana Slips With Loss
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (left) defeats Dariusz Swiercz to score his third win and move into a tie for first place. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Sinquefield Cup Day 5: Vachier-Lagrave Joins Leaders As Caruana Slips With Loss

AlexYermo
| 49 | Chess Event Coverage

The first upset of the 2021 Sinquefield Tournament happened when GM Fabiano Caruana lost to GM Jeffery Xiong in round five. Fabiano's place in the three-way tie on top of the standings was taken by GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who defeated GM Darius Swiercz and joined GM Leinier Dominguez Perez and GM Wesley So at 3.5 points. Other games were drawn as the players are welcoming a rest day tomorrow.

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The games of the 2021 Sinquefield cup can be found here as part of our live events platform

Sinquefield | Day 5 Standings

Day 5 standingOne could predict that the prospects of finally getting a day off would put some players in a peaceful mood today. So, one of the leaders, decided to take it easy by offering a draw by repetition to his opponent, GM Richard Rapport, in a quiet line of the anti-Berlin.

Wesley may be thinking of preserving his leading position in the overall Grand Chess Tour race, but the absence of the current standings on the official site makes me think that it may have already been canceled. I have already reflected on the unfortunate circumstances (COVID-19) that prevented other contestants from competing in their allocated number of events, which made it unfair. I'm sure So and three others who got to play in four events would agree with that, particularly if the prize money is doubled for the next year's Tour.

GM Peter Svidler had more pressing concerns going into his game with GM Sam Shankland. Peter had a catastrophic start, occupying the last place with just one draw after four games, and his main job was to stop the bleeding, reach the rest day, and regroup. Having the black pieces, Sam had to be careful with his handling of the Najdorf in reply to a solid 6.Bd3 line.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov made a good effort to complicate matters for his opponent, Dominguez. In a standard structure with an isolated pawn on d4, Shakh simply sacrificed it to move his pieces in the direction of the black king. Leinier solved his problems, and a draw preserved his place among the leaders. I trust my partner, GM Dejan Bojkov, in uncovering the mysteries of this game.

GM Dejan Bojkov

Just as Swiercz delighted his supporters by scoring his first victory of the tournament yesterday, his play today reverted to the same sorrowful pattern that cost him three games at the start. I cannot understand his choice of the opening line, which is very familiar to his opponent, Vachier-Lagrave. The last thing a rating underdog should do is to enter the dragon's den of the elite player's preparation zone.

Round five would have been a completely somber affair, but one game made it all worth watching. For the first time in his young career, Xiong defeated Caruana, creating the upset of the tournament so far.

GMs Xiong and Caruana
Xiong (left) wins his first game ever against Caruana. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Fabi should get credit for staying true to himself and issuing a big-time challenge by attempting to assume control over the entire board. His blunders were his undoing. While Jeffery didn't manage to take full advantage of the first one, the toll it took on Caruana's clock to repair the damage was heavy, and it ultimately led to the decisive mistake when the draw was within Fabiano's reach.

A seminal victory for Xiong. Now he can believe he's ready to take on anyone. Jeffery also returned to a 50-percent mark, level with Mamedyarov and Rapport, and half a point behind Caruana. The stage is set for an exciting finish when the players return to the boards on Monday.

All Games Day 5

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.

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