Anand Still Leads With Draws Galore At Sinquefield Cup
"I missed a win, didn't I?" Giri and Aronian at their post-mortem. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Anand Still Leads With Draws Galore At Sinquefield Cup

Rakesh
IM Rakesh
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36 | Chess Event Coverage
Round two of the Sinquefield Cup leg of the Grand Chess Tour saw all six games end in a draw. Anish Giri and Ian Nepomniachtchi had the biggest chances but slipped. Viswanathan Anand still leads the event as he is the only player to win in St. Louis in over 12 games.
Anish Giri was focused but faltered in the end. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.
Anish Giri and Levon Aronian played the longest game of the round. Interestingly, the game started with both players blitzing out their moves until move 20. Aronian gave up a pawn and won it back comfortably while still in his preparation. Giri then managed to squeeze water out of a stone and created serious winning chances as he got a passed b-pawn. Just when it was time to apply the finishing touches, he faltered. Aronian seized the opportunity to draw, and the players ended by repeating moves.

Aronian defended for a long time and was finally rewarded. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

The game between Indian star Viswanathan Anand and World Champion Magnus Carlsen is always a much-awaited contest. Carlsen holds a numerical advantage with a score of 12-8 in his favor but was unable to put any real pressure on Anand. Carlsen's second draw in successive games has now made his task of breaking the 2900-rating barrier more difficult. Norwegian journalist Tarjei Svensen has predicted that Carlsen needs a huge score of 9 points out of 11 games to reach 2900. 

Contrary to his overall 2019 experience, things have just fallen into place for Carlsen in St. Louis. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

Anand won yesterday with black and today drew the world champion. He must be relatively pleased with his start in this year's Sinquefield Cup. Thanks to all draws in round two, Anand is still the sole leader.

Anand is the only player to win a game in the Sinquefield Cup so far this year. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

During the game, Carlsen visited the confession booth and gave some important advice to everyone.

Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi played an exciting Sicilian Najdorf. In true Najdorf style, both players went for their opponent's king after they had castled on opposite wings. Black managed to break through first by opening some lines. Caruana still had things under control before he blundered. Nepomniachtchi couldn't find the brilliant win, and the game fizzled to a draw.

Fabiano Caruana was up for the fight today. Photo: Justin Keller/Grand Chess Tour.
"It hurts," Nepomniachtchi said about missing the tactic. American GM Wesley So found the tactic and later remarked: "It's hard to do it over the board. But if Nepo knew it's Black to play and win, he would have found it in seconds." 
Nepomniachtchi missed his chance today. | Photo: Justin Keller/Grand Chess Tour.

In the post-game interview, Nepomniachtchi spoke about time trouble and the reason he doesn't experience it now. He exclaimed: "When I was young like 10 or 11 years old, I used to have time trouble in every game, and at some point my coach told me to play like I have one hour [to play] instead of two hours and it worked!"

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So had an interesting draw in the trendy Italian. Vachier-Lagrave tried to complicate matters with an exchange sacrifice when So looked equal after the opening. When the smoke cleared, White had a bishop and a passed pawn for a rook, but it was never enough for either side to break through. The game soon fizzled into a draw in a rook ending with three pawns on the same side.

Solid start for So. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
Vachier-Lagrave is sporting a clean shaven and fresh look at this event. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

Sergey Karjakin and Ding Liren finished one of the first games on day two. The Russian tried to test Ding's knowledge of the Ruy Lopez, but Ding comfortably equalized. The game lasted 35 moves, but neither side really had much at any point during the game. At the end with a rook and two minors, they repeated moves and split the points in one of the dullest games of round two.

Sergey Karjakin tried to pose some questions to Ding. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.
Ding Liren managed to equalize comfortably. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
The game between two of the most exciting players on the circuit, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura, lived up to its hype. Within 10 moves they had castled on opposite wings in an opening after 1.d4. Mamedyarov then upped the ante with his trademark kingside attack. By playing the enterprising idea with Rg1 and then g4, he made his intentions clear. Nakamura took his time and came up with a nicely-timed counterattack of his own that forced a queen trade. Even then, Mamedyarov continued his threats against the black king but gave Nakamura a passed a-pawn on the queenside. Like true warriors, the players played until only kings!
Definitely a fighting draw! | Photo: Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura looks sharp and in top shape. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.
Anand is all alone at the top after day two as well. The Sinquefield Cup is one of the biggest titles he hasn't won in his illustrious career.

Images courtesy Spectrum Studios.
Images courtesy Spectrum Studios.
Round three features a repeat of the last World Championship match between Caruana and Carlsen. Carlsen was at his usual best when asked about tomorrow's game. He exclaimed: "I look forward to the challenge, and it's as good a time as any to actually beat him in a classical game!" [Caruana defeated Carlsen with a score of 3.5-0.5 in the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz last week.]
Images courtesy Spectrum Studios.

Round two coverage:

Watch Sinquefield Cup with hosts IM Rensch and GM Hammer #grandchesstour from Chess on www.twitch.tv

You can find all games here as part of our live portal. More photos from the event can be found here. The official site is here.

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