Sinquefield Cup Sees Another All-Draw Day In Round 7
No one saw a way to victory in St. Louis in round seven. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

Sinquefield Cup Sees Another All-Draw Day In Round 7

Rakesh
IM Rakesh
|
54 | Chess Event Coverage

It was a new day, a new round but sadly the same old story at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup. Round seven again ended with all draws. More than the result itself, the players have taken a safety-first approach, which has resulted in just four decisive results out of a total of 42 games. 

The game between joint leaders Ding Liren and Viswanathan Anand was the only one that looked likely to have a decisive result, but even that ended in a draw as the latter has failed to bring home the bacon in two consecutive games. 

Co-leader Fabiano Caruana equalized easily as Black against Dutch star Anish Giri. Both players tried something but it was never enough, and they later drew after 50 moves with bare kings left on the board.

Ding vs Anand was one of the best games of the round. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour
Ding vs. Anand was one of the best games of the round. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Ding had never defeated Anand in any time control, and this round would have been a better opportunity than any to change that fact. However, the Tiger from Madras equalized comfortably as Black and then got some initiative. Ding then blundered but Anand grabbed material instead of launching a decisive kingside attack. Ding survived as Anand's material advantage withered away, and they drew on move 60.

The eyes say it all. These missed chances may come back to haunt Anand. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour
The eyes say it all. These missed chances may come back to haunt Anand. | Photo: Justin Kellar/Grand Chess Tour.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen faced his good friend Ian Nepomniachtchi. Playing as White, Carlsen tried to bring some fresh ideas with 7.Qa4+ against the Gruenfeld. He played a sharp idea, but Nepomniachtchi calculated well and defended with precision.

Carlsen arrived a little late to the game today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour
Carlsen arrived a little late to the game today. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.
Carlsen has done a Caruana with draws! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour
Carlsen has done a Caruana with draws! | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

With this draw, Carlsen has now extended his unbeaten streak to 86 games! He has seven draws in as many rounds. The last time he had such a solid start was back in 2009 when he wasn't even the world champion.

Ironically, he has now done a Caruana with draws again at the Sinquefield Cup. In the 2014 edition, Caruana had alone managed more wins before round four than all games combined this year.

At the post-game interview, Carlsen remarked, "I tried my best. I chose a line with some sharp ideas but Ian defended perfectly." Nepomniachtchi jokingly said: "I am proud to be involved with 50 percent of the decisive games in this tournament." He added: "Nobody here wins unless a full rook is blundered!" 

Overnight joint-leader Caruana faced the super solid Dutch number-one Giri with Black. Caruana equalized quickly against Giri's Harrwitz Attack in the Queen's Gambit Declined. Neither player was in any real danger. White had two rooks and a knight against Black's two rooks and a bishop. Also here, the players played on until move 50 when only the kings were left on the board.

Fabiano Caruana has been rock solid and is in the joint lead. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour
Fabiano Caruana has been rock solid and shares the lead. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.
Giri trying hard to win a game. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour
Giri trying hard to win a game. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

Armenian star Levon Aronian faced Hikaru Nakamura with the white side in an Open Sicilian. The former chose a relatively quieter line, which prompted Nakamura to fianchetto his dark-squared bishop. Nakamura then struck the center with 15...d5 and pretty much equalized. After trading pieces frequently, the players were left with opposite-colored bishops where they repeated moves to seal the draw.

Aronian vs Nakamura is usually an exciting affair. | Photo:Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour
Aronian vs. Nakamura is usually an exciting affair. | Photo:Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

For a decisive result in the tournament, maybe we need an incident such as in the following game that happened between the same players at the 2016 Candidates' Tournament. The game was heading to a draw before Nakamura blundered and tried the good old "J'adoube" [I adjust] trick. He was overruled and had to follow the touch-and-move rule and went on to lose the game.

Nakamura seems to play more positionally nowadays. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour
Nakamura seems to play more positionally now. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

During the post-game interview, Nakamura remarked: "If Kasparov could get the same tactical positions he got in the '80s and '90s, he'd still be the best player in the world, but he wouldn't get those positions now." Then he continued: "Chess games have become so positional that the players don't see tactics as well."

In the remaining two games, between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Wesley So vs. Sergey Karjakin, the White players managed to win the bishop pair with the move Nc4 and then trade queens. But, sadly, both positions didn't help the bishop pair, and they were quickly neutralized by Black. None of the players were clearly better as the granular advantage remained insignificant.

The arbiters are also trying to make the players play longer. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour
The arbiters are also trying to make the players play longer. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The game between Vachier-Lagrave and Mamedyarov was another trending Italian line that is a frequent guest at the top level. Playing as White, the Frenchman tried to create something but didn't get anything more than a marginally better position. Mamedyarov defended precisely, and they repeated within 33 moves.

Mamedyarov defended accurately today. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour
Mamedyarov defended accurately today. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

FIDE's Director-General, GM Emil Sutovsky, posted on Facebook: "Ready to bet that 4 last rounds in STL will produce more decisive games than the first 7. Not a very bold statement, I know."

All draws ensure the leaderboard remains unchanged. Thanks to the draws, all 12 players have a shot at first place with four games to go.

Image: Spectrum Studios
Image: Spectrum Studios.
Six games, six draws in the seventh round.
Image: Spectrum Studios
Image: Spectrum Studios.
We can definitely expect fireworks tomorrow as two of the joint leaders face each other in Caruana vs. Anand, and Carlsen with White faces the other co-leader, Ding. 
Image: Spectrum Studios
Image: Spectrum Studios.
Round seven coverage:

Watch Sinquefield Cup Round 7 - Hosts GM Hess and WFM Botez #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.


Previous reports:

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