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Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Wins 2021 Sinquefield Cup; So Bags Tour
Vachier-Lagrave wins the 2021 Sinquefield Cup with 6/9. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Wins 2021 Sinquefield Cup; So Bags Tour

AlexYermo
| 53 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won the Sinquefield Cup for the second time in his career, finishing half a point ahead of the American trio of GMs Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Leinier Dominguez Perez. GM Richard Rapport finished in fifth place with an even score. So emerged as the winner of the overall Grand Chess Tour.

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

Sinquefield Cup | Final Standings

2021 SInquefield cup standings

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Vachier-Lagrave left the stage early after playing out a theoretical draw in the Grunfeld Defense. No less than 15 copies of these exact moves can be found in databases, and the vast majority of these were played between top players.

Before we unleash our righteous fury,  let us remember how much chess is played these days. You can literally fit the entire career numbers of the greats of the past into a few years of today's demanding schedules. Tournaments follow one another, in person and now online, and there's simply no time to catch one's breath.

Sometimes you play well, sometimes you don't, but there's always another important tournament just around the corner. In this case, it'll be the  FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss in Riga, Latvia later in the fall. Vachier-Lagrave and Mamedyarov will be among the favorites to win the two coveted spots for the next Candidates Tournament.

Back to our unfinished business in Saint Louis, that draw left a window of opportunity for three players, all of whom needed wins to catch the leader. Two of them happened to play each other. So had White against Dominguez, and the Queen's Gambit Accepted it was. Wesley knows this opening well, and he went for a line recently played against him by World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

2021 Sinquefield Cup
Wesley tied for 2nd-4th place alongside Caruana and Dominguez. Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Dominguez had a rough time in the second half of the tournament. He could have lost to GMs Peter Svidler and Sam Shankland (both with White), but today he had enough in the tank to safely reach the finish line. His pawn sacrifice was good, and soon So traded down into a drawn ending.

It wasn't too difficult for me to choose my game of the day. Even before the first move was played, I selected Rapport-Caruana. I knew Fabiano was going all the way, trying to catch MVL, and Richard is always good for a surprising move or two. The game did not disappoint.

Chess.com game of the day Yermolinsky

Caruana could do no better than join So and Dominguez in a three-way tie for second place. Our congratulations go to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for capturing his second Sinquefield Cup. Allez, Maxime!

2021 Sinquefield Cup
Fabiano Caruana tried pressing today but drew his game with Rapport. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Richard Rapport shouldn't be too disappointed with his 50 percent result. His play has a great mix of entertainment and quality that should make him a permanent fixture in premier tournaments for years to come.

Of the two games that had no impact on the final standings at the top, I can say I was happy with the effort. Shankland versus GM Dariusz Swiercz had a very interesting opening. Dariusz was well prepared and managed to navigate into a safe, if only somewhat worse, position.

I think Swiercz can be proud of how he handled the second half of the tournament. He didn't add to his win column, but three solid draws and only one loss allowed Dariusz to avoid a catastrophic result in his first super tournament. There will be more chances, I hope, and next time he will be ready.

2021 Sinquefield Cup
GM Dariusz Scwiercz can be happy with the second half of the tournament. Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Shankland can rue his missing a chance to beat Dominguez yesterday—I missed it too, even after the game ended—but the overall impression of Sam's play was positive. He recovered well from a 0.5/2 start and never backed out of a fight. The uphill trajectory that Shankland's results took in Prague and continued at the World Cup will take him to new heights.

Svidler had a great game going against GM Jeffery Xiong but was too eager to transform his advantage into something tangible. The extra pawn in the endgame proved to be too difficult to convert, but of course, his opponent gets credit for inventively finding counterplay.

I'm mildly disappointed with Xiong's performance in Saint Louis. It seemed he let many chances slip away, against Mamedyarov and So in particular. And there was that bad loss to Vachier-Lagrave, as well. Still, I think the valuable experience Jeffery gained here will go a long way to helping him progress.

Of Peter Svidler, I can say that his much-improved play in the second half may have made him regret that the tournament ended so soon. Peter certainly had that second wind in his sails.

In conclusion, I want to thank the players for giving us fun games to watch, the organizers at Saint Louis Chess Club for making this event possible in these trying times, and the Chess.com brass for giving me this platform to share my thoughts with you. Until next time.

All Games Round 9

The 2021 Sinquefield Cup tournament is the last stop of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. Games started on August 17 with ten of the best chess players in the world competing for a piece of the $325,000 prize fund.

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