Grischuk Beats Nakamura To Make 4-Way Tie Atop Sinquefield Cup
Alexander Grischuk pondered his advantage for a while, but eventually found the right path. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Grischuk Beats Nakamura To Make 4-Way Tie Atop Sinquefield Cup

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

For the second straight day at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup, the chance of an all-draws round loomed. But just like yesterday, a 6.5-hour game produced the day's only winner (yesterday, 88 moves; today, 89 moves).

Alexander Grischuk used a healthy space advantage in round three to pick off three extra pawns against Hikaru Nakamura. The American saw the specter of a fortress, but it wasn't there.


Hikaru Nakamura offered some improvements to Alexander Grischuk right after the game, but the ending phase was always winning for Black. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Grischuk's win bumps him up into a four-way tie for the lead, along with Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who all drew today. The quartet is all sitting on 2.0/3.

Grischuk discussed the game with, along with why he was left off the Russian Olympiad team for the first time since playing his first in 2000.

Watch Alexander Grischuk On Missing The Olympiad from Chess on

The advantage got going in earnest when just after the time control, the Russian took the pawn on d3. With that fresh bank of time on the 41st move, he used up 30 minutes on that choice alone, but it was the right decision.

What's the opposite rhyming derivative of "long think, wrong think?" Maybe "pause long, sing a song" or "make no mistake, take a break?" (You can show off your better suggestions in the comments.)


In the brief post-mortem between the players, Nakamura lamented playing 54. h4.

One of the marquee matchups of the day pitted the men who keep jostling one another for the world number-two ranking. Fabiano Caruana came in to the event with a small edge, but Mamedyarov usurped it after his opening-round win. While battling for second they also played the second-longest game of the round.

The early ...b5 produced a fight that the Azeri admitted he wasn't quite ready for. Caruana called it a "very legitimate line for Black."

"I know about this move, but I don't know how to play as White," Mamedyarov said.


The current world number-two (left) against the world number-two from two days ago.  But who does number two work for? | Photo: Mike Klein/

After play reached the endgame phase, Caruana kept plugging away. He eschewed a repetition to try to inchworm his way to the full point, similar to how Carlsen did yesterday. That parallel was not lost on Mamedyarov.

"Of course it's very good for him to play until the end," Mamedyarov said, explaining that it is good preparation for the world championship.

About the parallels to Carlsen's epic win yesterday, Caruana told that he had it open on his phone last night.

"It's normal that you try to win these positions," Caruana said about his own effort today. He added that against Carlsen he would have also continued to press. "I can definitely convert small advantages if I have the chance. It's very difficult because Magnus, he doesn't collapse," he said. 


Seen here arriving with second Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen was seemingly still enjoying himself after his win last night. | Photo: Mike Klein/

When asked if defending slightly worse positions would be part of his training for his November match with the relentless champ, Caruana said that's not terribly practical.

"It's very difficult to re-create game conditions," he said. "Your opponent doesn't have the same motivation."

Speaking of the champ, today he faced off against fellow tournament leader Aronian. After 1. e4, which has been the Armenian's exclusive choice all month in St. Louis, Carlsen still sat there for several minutes, sometimes with an aggrieved or pained look.

Magnus Carlsen

Not to worry: Magnus Carlsen eventually found an antidote to 1. e4. | Photo: Mike Klein/

Eventually a Giuoco Piano was reached, with Aronian having the biggest chance to create an imbalance. Whereas Carlsen had the queen versus two rooks in round one, this time Aronian could have saddled him with the opposite.

Instead, liquidation and handshakes.

"It wasn't the most exciting of games obviously," Carlsen said, adding that he didn't sleep well last night since he couldn't stop being a "little too excited" about his long win yesterday.

"The general feeling is that Black should be OK but maybe White is slightly better," Aronian said about the possibility to grab the Norwegian's queen. Then, after being shown the line above with White's knight landing on f5, he recalibrated.

"Now it looks good when you guys are moving pieces!" he said about GM Maurice Ashley's analysis board. He recalled a Russian expression: "The one who doesn't risk, doesn't drink champagne." (Кто не рискует, тот не пьёт шампанского.)


Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk both brought their thumb tripods today. | Photo: Mike Klein/

In other action, Sergey Karjakin used up a turn with White to end his losing streak as he drew Viswanathan Anand, who borrowed an idea from Anish Giri. But that's not the only player Anand follows carefully.

"In the last six to eight months, since he's stopped drinking, he's been on fire," Anand said about Mamedyarov. "I study his games all the time."

Wesley So drew Maxime Vachier-Lagrave as Black. Whereas the Frenchman won some games in the rapid/blitz against the Berlin Wall, today he got nothing.

After arriving in St. Louis atop the Grand Chess Tour standings, So said he's not been feeling well lately.

"Of course I want to be in London," he said, "but I want it to go to who deserves it the most. There's no point in joining if my games will be second rate."



Graphics courtesy Spectrum Studios.

The Sinquefield Cup, the final qualification leg of the Grand Chess Tour, is a nine-round tournament from August 17-28. At the end of the tournament, four players will qualify for the London finals. The games in St. Louis begin at 1 p.m. Central U.S. time daily (8 p.m. Central Europe).

Earlier reports:

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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