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Can Firouzja win Sinquefield Cup and Grand Chess Tour 2022?

by Shahid Ahmed - 11/09/2022

Alireza Firouzja swerved Wesley So big time in the penultimate round of Sinquefield Cup 2022. The World no.4 swindled the reigning Fischer Random world champion from a completely lost position after the latter was unable to make the most out of his decisive advantage. The win helped the Frenchman to become one step closer to winning the tournament and the 2022 season of Grand Chess Tour. He will face his fellow compatriot, the reigning World Blitz champion, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the final round. The only person who can catch up with him is, Ian Nepomniachtchi who will be up against Hans Niemann. Final Round 9 starts today at 1 p.m. local time, 11:30 p.m. IST. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Nepomniachtchi also in the title fray

Alireza Firouzja, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Fabiano Caruana - all three of them are at 4.5 points each. However, Caruana has played all eight games of his and he has a Bye in the final round. Thus, mathematically either of the remaining can two surpass him. In the unlikely event of both Firouzja and Nepomniachtchi losing their respective games, Playoffs will be played tomorrow Monday 12th September at the usual time.

It might be Firouzja's time to win it all at Saint Louis | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Niemann - Caruana: 0-1

Hans Niemann decided to give up an exchange which certainly did him no good against Fabiano Caruana.

Position after 25...Nd2

25.Ra1 would have solved the dilemma of defending the b2-bishop as well as prevent the invasion of the rook via a-file. 25...Rxa1 26.Bxa1 would have been fine. Instead. 25.Rb1 provoked Nd2 26.Bc3 Nxf1+ 27.Bxf1 Ra2+ and the long march towards victory began for Black.

Fabi: Hans is a very interesting player | Video: Saint Louis Chess Club

Hans Niemann suffered his second loss of the event | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Aronian - Nepomniachtchi: 0-1

Levon Aronian chose to play actively by giving up two pawns against Ian Nepomniachtchi. However, it did not affect the outcome of the game.

Position after 19.Ng3

19.Bc1 would have held on to the d4-pawn a bit longer. White understandably decided to go for active play 19.Ng3 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Bxg3 21.hxg3 Qxd4 22.Bxa5 Qxb2 23.Re2 Naxc5. Although later White managed to equalize but his adventurous against tilted things in his opponent's favor.

Nepo: "Shameful victory" or brilliant tactical victory? | Video: Saint Louis Chess Club

Ian Nepomniachtchi is also in the contention to win the tournament | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Firouzja - So: 1-0

Alireza Firouzja made an incredible save and seized his opportunity later against Wesley So.

Position after 17...Bxh3

So who has an impeccable knowledge of the Italian opening, made a thematic sacrifice 17...Bxh3. It seemed like White is on the brink of defeat. 18.Nd3 Qg6? Black should have played Rad8 which was also possible in the previous move. 19.Nh4 Qg5 20.Nxc5 Qxh4 21.gxh3 Qg5+ 22.Qg4 Qxc5 23.c4 Rab8 24.e5 g6?? 25.Ba3+- Queen is now shut out from accessing the kingside and Black's position started falling apart. 25...Qb6 26.e6 and it's over.

Position after 26.e6

So was playing beautiful chess till he stopped. That's the beauty of the sport, things can change very quickly at the drop of a hat when humans are duking it out on the 64 squares.

Firouzja: Incredible turn around against Wesley So! | Video: Saint Louis Chess Club

All eyes were on Firouzja-So and it certainly delivered | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Leinier was completely the queen endgame until he allowed his opponent Mamedyarov to escape with a perpetual check | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour

Official statement of Chief Arbiter of Sinquefield Cup 2022 - IA Christopher Bird

Replay the live stream

Replay the Live Commentary of Sinquefield Cup 2022 Round 8 by GMs Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, Alejandro Ramirez, and WGM Anastasiya Karlovich | Video: Saint Louis Chess Club


The total prize fund is US$ 350000 with the first prize being US$ 100000.

Replay Round 7-8 games

Round 8 results

Just like the sixth round, three out of four games ended decisively | Photo: Grand Chess Tour

Standings after Round 8

Caruana has played all his games which means Firouzja and Nepomniachtchi has good mathematical chances to win the event | Photo: Grand Chess Tour


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