Sinquefield Cup Round 5 Has 2 Wins And A Stalemate
Ding Liren's determination got him a slice of the lead as he joined Fabiano Caruana and Vishy Anand atop the tables. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Sinquefield Cup Round 5 Has 2 Wins And A Stalemate

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

What a difference a day makes at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup! After most players in this elite round-robin started with four consecutive draws, the field decided to make the tournament an "open" with all kinds of fun in round five.

Both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren got their first wins, while Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin played yet another draw, but unlike any of the ones seen at their 2016 world championship match. Karjakin stalemated himself with 10 pieces left on the board.

And if stalemates don't make you smile, well, you might not share Carlsen's sense of humor. The Grand Chess Tour's Russian-language announcer Evgenij Miroshnichenko can personally testify to this:

Again today, Carlsen showed amusement at his opponent's choice of draws:

Carlsen Karjakin
There's just something about stalemate that brings out the kid in all of us. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

After today's stalemate Carlsen wasn't quite as elated since he hasn't made any marks in the win column, but two new players did just that. Ding played a convincing middlegame to overwhelm Anish Giri. This win was the first all week that could be characterized by precise play instead of a howling blunder.

Ding Liren Anish Giri
Ding Liren played perhaps the smoothest win of the tournament so far against Anish Giri. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

First, the attack come down the d-file, then he offered a pawn and his heavies went perpendicular, shifting the focus sideways to both the sixth and seventh ranks. At one point both rooks and the queen could have occupied "open ranks," and Black couldn't stop the horizontal fusillade.

Ding Liren
Ding Liren's kicking from multiple ranks was too powerful. Looks like that leg has healed.

For the final half of the game, you could sense that Ding was willing to give away his c-pawn at any moment in exchange for activity of his rooks. When it was finally captured on move 38, White's pieces crashed through as intended. Black was already lost anyway, but the acceptance allowed a blistering sideways attack that isn't often seen:

Nepomniachtchi, the other winner, got back to an even score after grinding out an endgame win against Nakamura. Maybe it shouldn't be too surprising that Nepo has factored into two of the tournament's four decisive games. At the Grand Chess Tour's only other classical event, the Russian played more non-draws than anyone else. Six of his 11 games in Zagreb ended in someone's resignation.

It feels good because I think I little bit gave up on this tournament after this start." - Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi
Ian Nepomniachtchi mused about a few more accurate moves giving him a much better score so far, but at least he got back to even today. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

In round five Nepo teetered between the winning and drawing zone for much of the pawn-up ending.

"If it's even a draw objectively... it's a very tough [situation] for Black," the winner said. "This endgame could be study-like."

Let's pick up the action late in the critical stages, where some dancing bishops make the analysis much more complicated than at first sight. 

The two have quite a recent history in bishop+pawn versus bishop endings, and they don't seem to be going Nakamura's way. In a rapid game at the Paris GCT event, Nakamura lost another drawn ending against Nepo when the Russian used a "cheapo" in his own words:

"I didn't really care too much about today's game," Nepomniachtchi said afterward while doing an accounting for how many points he could have had entering the day. He said he is "really looking forward" to the rest day on Thursday.

Hikaru Nakamura
Hikaru Nakamura struggled to figure out how to hold the tough ending. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

We've been over the wins, but you could almost argue the draws were even more exciting today. First, GM Alex Yermolinsky details the piece sac that Wesley So tried against Fabiano Caruana:

Amazingly, despite the wild opening, Caruana was in prep until move 15.

"I just couldn't remember it; it's such a confusing line, and I hadn't expected it to happen today," Caruana said. "The details, or even the most basic details of the line, I couldn't remember."

"I felt like I was calculating well, but you never really know because these positions are so sharp that you might think all of your calculations were fool-proof, but it's very easy to make a mistake," Caruana said.

Carlsen So Caruana
Magnus Carlsen takes a look at the inventive opening of So-Caruana. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

Finally, here's a fun way to end the show that was round five. Karjakin didn't have to draw in this manner but played the part of showman by stalemating his own king.

Just like Caruana a day ago, who used "Magnus prep" in a game much later than expected, Karjakin said today's game was also a leftover from his 2016 match prep in New York.

Here's the trio at the top:

Images courtesy Spectrum Studios.

Commentator Maurice Ashley asked several players if they would attend the karaoke party after the round. Nepo said he used to go to karaoke clubs often in Moscow and now that his mood is good that he may go and sing Sinatra.

Then he backtracked, remembering that if So attends, he didn't want a recurrence of the "My Way" killings that apparently caused the death of about a half-dozen people in the Philippines due to bad renditions of the song. Nepo changed course and, remembering what city he was in, said he would sing the blues.

Karjakin said that he usually sings "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, while Carlsen said he would surely skip the karaoke party. He added that he didn't feel comfortable discussing his varied musical tastes on air.

Carlsen was asked about his career dominance against Nakamura (14-1 in classical), whom he will face after the rest day. 

"He seems to be playing pretty solidly now, so it's not like I just count on getting anything else or anything close to that," Carlsen said.

Round five coverage:

Watch Sinquefield Cup Round 5 with GM Hess and IM Rensch #grandchesstour from Chess on

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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