chessbase india logo
Hindi News

 

 

Sinquefield Cup Round 1: Aronian's brilliant opening preparation

by Venkatachalam Saravanan - 04/08/2017

Aronian’s creativity, Karjakin’s precision in an advantageous position and full-fledged fights in all the boards were the talking points of the first round at Sinquefield Cup which started today at Saint Louis, USA, the 4th leg of the Grand Chess Tour. Wesley So fell for the time immemorial classic zeitnot tragedy when he blundered on the 40th move and lost to Vachier-Lagrave from a difficult position. Vishy Anand drew his game against Nakamura. Full round one report by Saravanan Venkatachalam.

Photos by Grand Chess Tour

 

As the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour started at Saint Louis, US with the Sinquefield Cup, notes of interest are Wesley So (2810) and Caruana (2807) getting nearer to planet Carlsen (2822), and after Paris and Leuven, the first of the two tournaments with classic time control, along with London Classic in Nov – Dec 2017. But however much we try to focus on the first event, there is no denying the fact that the whole world is waiting with bated breath for the re-entry of Garry Kimovich Kasparov in the second event, the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz from Aug 13 – 19. So, we have a curious situation where the whole of chess public is trying hard to concentrate on the current act well knowing there is anti-climax to follow with change of actors of later on!

Garry Kasparov at the World Championship 2012, Moscow: the spoiler who makes us wait for the anti-climax rather than the current act [Pic by V.Saravanan]

But of course, we have the world champion Magnus Carlsen and most of the top elite participating here. And if images from the inauguration are any clue, we are definitely going to have a lot of fun at Saint Louis!

Flanked by Nepomniachtchi, the world champion has his share of fun [Pic by Lennart Ootes]

But we met with a curious piece of troubling information when it was revealed that a game of cards features in the preparation routines of the best of the best too?

(Pic 3: “Preparing for the Sinquefield Cup with a game of cards after dinner yesterday. Round 1 starts today at 1pm local time”. Really, Magnus? [Pic from Magnus Carlsen’s Facebook page]

Activities kicked off with an elaborate autograph session on the first day the 01st of Aug 2017, and the event itself seems to have generated a lot of fun, indeed.

No other event starts with such excitement to the spectators, as Karjakin, So, Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura and Anand are ready to affix their credentials [Pic by Lennart Ootes]

Not letting up any tempo, the first round started off with full-fledged fights in all the boards on the very first day, prompting Kasparov himself to gush, ‘Bloody day at St.Louis’. And his eyes picked up a particularly delightful maneouvre:

Indeed, Aronian’s win looked so smooth that, it left one wondering where exactly did Nepomniachtchi went wrong, especially as he seemed to play quite fast in the opening. 

[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A34"]
[WhiteElo "2799"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3 Nxc3 6. bxc3 g6 7. h4 {
[#] [Such a liberated move! Though it wasn't an original idea, Aronian's
choice is a creative preference over the more common 7.Bb5 preferred by
Gelfand, Ivanchuk and Nepo himself with White pieces]} Bg7 8. h5 Nc6 9. Ba3 {
[An improvement over an old Nepo game]} (9. Rb1 Qc7 10. d4 Bd7 11. Bd3 Rd8 12.
Qc2 Bg4 13. Ng5 {with a slight pull for White in Svidler,P (2740)
-Nepomniachtchi,I (2702) Nizhny Novgorod RUS 2013}) 9... Qa5 10. Rh4 $5 {
[#][Played with a flourish of hand and a free mind, a move praised by Kasparov
himself. An unorthodox way to defend against Black's threatened ...Qa5xa3]} Bd7
(10... Qxa3 11. Ra4 Qb2 12. Rb1 {[%csl Rb2]}) 11. Qb3 O-O {[Strangely, this
move was played after a quick think, leaving one wondering if Nepo went wrong
in his preparations somewhere?]} 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Qxb7 Rfd8 14. Qa6 {[Black
doesn't have much of a comepnsation for the pawn after this almost forced
exchange of Queens]} Bxc3 15. Qxa5 Bxa5 16. Bxc5 {[White is clearly better
here, looking to calmly convert the extra pawn]} Be6 $2 {[And Black drops the
second pawn too]} 17. Bb5 Ne5 18. Nd4 Rd5 19. Bxe7 $18 Kg7 20. f4 Nd7 21. f5
Bxf5 22. Bc6 Re5 23. Nxf5+ gxf5 24. Bg5 Kg6 25. Bf4 Rd8 26. Bxd7 Rc5 27. Rh6+
Kg7 28. Rd6 Bc7 29. Rc6 1-0

It indeed looks like Aronian got up from the right side of the bed in the morning, and he knew it was going to be a good day at the office! [Pic by Austin Fuller]

We would LOVE to know what was going on in Nepo’s mind at this point [Pic by Lennart Ootes]

And this curious exchange took place during the post-game interview between Maruice Ashley and Aronian:

Ashley: Tell us, you are playing well lately. Also, the cat’s out of the bag that you are finally engaged to your longtime girlfriend. I hope this is not news to you! (Aronian laughs) What’s causing this resurgence of Levon Aronian?

Aronian: I think I always play well! It’s just that, I used to play well and spoil (the games), now I convert some of it! I think I can do better, let’s see…

Maurice Ashley interviewing Aronian: “I think I always play well!” [Pic by Lennart Ootes]

Karjakin – Svidler was a very complicated affair, where white enjoyed keeping all the pawns from a-file to e-file on the 4th rank just for a move in the transition from opening to middlegame. A key move to easily overlook could be Karjakin’s 22.Ra3! which would ultimately hold Svidler’s threats on the kingside and nurse his pawn phalanx on the queenside smoothly.

And later on, Karjakin clinched the issue with the impressive Ra3-g3-g4xe4 maneuvre, sacrificing the exchange and sealing the game in his favour.

It does look like Karjakin and Svidler still had lots of clarifications to make about the mess of a game they had just finished playing [Pic by Lennart Ootes]
[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2773"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. Re1
O-O 9. h3 Ne7 10. d4 Ng6 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Bb3 Re8 13. Bc2 b5 14. b4 Bb7 15. Bb2
Qd7 16. c4 exd4 17. cxb5 d3 18. Bxd3 Nf4 19. Bf1 Nxe4 20. Nxe4 Bxe4 21. bxa6
Qf5 22. Ra3 $1 {[%cal Ga1a3]} c5 23. Nh4 Qe6 24. b5 c4 25. Bd4 Bxd4 26. Qxd4 d5
27. Rg3 g5 28. f3 Nh5 29. Rg4 Nf6 30. Rgxe4 Nxe4 31. fxe4 gxh4 32. Rd1 Qxe4 33.
Qxe4 Rxe4 34. Rxd5 c3 35. Rc5 Rxa4 36. b6 Kg7 37. b7 Re8 38. Rxc3 Ra1 39. a7
1-0

Anand – Nakamura was a comparatively quieter affair, where one got the impression that black could have continued playing in the final position.

‘Could Black possibly have continued in the final position?’ Nakamura and Anand in a post-game chat [Pic by Austin Fuller]
[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Re8 8. Nbd2
Be7 9. Bg3 d6 10. h3 a6 11. Ba4 b5 12. Bc2 Bb7 13. O-O Bf8 14. Nh2 d5 15. exd5
Qxd5 16. Nhf3 Qd7 17. Re1 Bd6 18. Re2 Rad8 19. Qf1 Nh5 20. Bh2 Re7 21. Rae1
Rde8 22. g4 {[A committal push, and it's difficult to justify the subsequent
weakening of white's kingside]} Nf6 23. Ne4 $2 {[But this clearly hands away
the iniative to black]} ({White could have continued energetically with} 23.
Nh4) 23... Nxe4 24. dxe4 Qe6 25. Bb3 Qf6 26. Qg2 Na5 27. Bc2 Nc4 28. Bb3 Na5 {
[Black settles to repeat the moves, where he probably could have continued]} (
28... Bc6 29. Bg3 ({White shouldn't try to grab a pawn on the Queenside here:} 
29. Bxc4 bxc4 30. Nd2 Rd8 31. Nxc4 Bb5 32. b3 Bxc4 33. bxc4 Bc5 {and Black has
a clear pull}) 29... Rd7 {and Black seems to enjoy a slight plus here}) 29. Bc2
Nc4 30. Bb3 Na5 1/2-1/2

Wesley So fell for the time immemorial classic zeitnot tragedy when he blundered on the 40th move and lost to Vachier-Lagrave from a difficult position.

So went wrong with 40…Kd8? here, and after 41.Be4 Nxb3+ 42.Kc3 Nd4 43.Bh2, he resigned. Could he have offered better resistance with 40…Kf6 is a question

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Wesley So [Pic by Lennart Ootes]
[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "2789"]
[BlackElo "2810"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 d6 7. c3 a6 8. h3 h6
9. Nbd2 Ba7 10. Re1 Ne7 11. Bb3 Ng6 12. d4 Re8 13. Bc2 Bd7 14. a5 c6 15. dxe5
dxe5 16. Nc4 Qe7 17. Qd6 Qxd6 18. Nxd6 Re6 19. Rd1 Rb8 20. Kf1 Re7 21. Nc4 Rbe8
22. b3 Be6 23. Nb6 Bxb6 24. axb6 Rd7 25. Be3 Rc8 26. c4 Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1 c5 28.
Ne1 Nd7 29. Nd3 f6 30. Ra1 Ne7 31. Ke2 Kf7 32. Kd2 f5 33. f4 exf4 34. Nxf4 g5
35. Nxe6 Kxe6 36. exf5+ Nxf5 37. Bg1 Nd4 38. Re1+ {[#][White has gained a
seizable advantage, and he probably just wanted to check the black king twice
to get nearer to the time control, but here unfolded a tragedy for So]} Kf6 39.
Rf1+ (39. Be4 Nxb3+ 40. Kc3 Nd4 41. Bxb7 Rb8 42. Bd5 Nxb6 43. Bxd4+ cxd4+ 44.
Kxd4 Nxd5 45. cxd5 {with an ending where White can still press on}) 39... Ke7
40. Re1+ Kd8 $4 {[Was black tempted to play to pocket an extra pawn himself?
Instead of looking to defend long in a difficult ending, he ends up losing the
game quickly]} ({Better choice was} 40... Kf6 41. Be4 Nxb3+ 42. Kc3 Nd4 43.
Bxb7 Rb8 44. Be4 Nxb6 45. Bxd4+ cxd4+ 46. Kxd4 {and White still has a nagging
advantage in the endgame}) 41. Be4 Nxb3+ 42. Kc3 Nd4 43. Bh2 (43. Bh2 Nxb6 (
43... Nc6 44. Bc7+) 44. Bxb7 {[%csl Rc8] and Black loses the exchange}) 1-0

Finally, the heavyweight clash between Caruana and Carlsen was a perpetually balanced affair, leaving one wondering where Caruana was going with his preparation, as he didn’t seem to get much out of it. The most exciting detail of the game came much later, when Carlsen unleashed 30…b3 & 31…d3! to secure the draw

Caruana – Carlsen, 30..b3

Caruana – Carlsen, 31…d3!

The heavyweight game which didn’t raise up much dust, almost [Pic by Austin Fuller]
[Event "5th Sinquefield Cup 2017 GCT"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C84"]
[WhiteElo "2807"]
[BlackElo "2822"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a4 b4
9. a5 O-O 10. Nbd2 Rb8 11. Re1 Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nb3 Qc8 14. Qe2 Nd8 15. d4
exd4 16. Nbxd4 c5 17. Nb3 {[It's difficult to understand where Caruana is
going with his preparation - this position has already been played before, and
doesn't seem to offer much for White]} e5 (17... Nd7 18. Bg5 Bxg5 19. Nxg5 Ne5
{and Black was fine in Salomon,J (2115)-Urkedal,F (2470) Fagernes NOR 2013})
18. Nbd2 Ne6 19. Nc4 Nd4 20. Nxd4 cxd4 21. Nb6 Qc6 22. Bg5 Bd8 23. Bxf6 Bxb6
24. axb6 Rxf6 25. Rxa6 h6 26. Qd3 Rxb6 27. Rea1 Rxa6 28. Rxa6 Qc5 29. Ra8+ Kh7
30. h3 {[#]} b3 {[The position is equal anyway, but Carlsen finds a nice way
to quicken the end of the game]} 31. Qxb3 d3 $1 32. cxd3 Qxf2+ 33. Kh2 Qf4+ 34.
Kh1 Qc1+ 35. Kh2 Qf4+ 36. Kh1 Qg3 37. Qg8+ Kg6 38. Rf8 Qxd3 39. Rxf6+ Kxf6 40.
Qf8+ Ke6 41. Qe8+ Kf6 42. Qf8+ Ke6 43. Qe8+ 1/2-1/2

Results:

Round 1 (August 2, 2017)

Karjakin, Sergey

- Svidler, Peter

1-0

 

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime

- So, Wesley

1-0

 

Aronian, Levon

- Nepomniachtchi, Ian

1-0

 

Caruana, Fabiano

- Carlsen, Magnus

½-½

 

Anand, Viswanathan

- Nakamura, Hikaru

½-½

 

Pairings:

Round 2 (August 3, 2017)

Carlsen, Magnus

- Karjakin, Sergey

 

Aronian, Levon

- Caruana, Fabiano

 

Nakamura, Hikaru

- Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime

 

Svidler, Peter

- Anand, Viswanathan

 

Nepomniachtchi, Ian

- So, Wesley

 


Official Website 

 

About the Author:

Saravanan Venkatachalam is an International Master and has been an active chess player in the Indian circuit, and has been consistently writing on chess since late 1980s. He turned complete chess professional in 2012, actively playing and being a second and a trainer to a handful of Indian players. He reports on chess tournaments, occasionally being a correspondent to national newspapers and news channels. Apart from chess, he is also interested in Tamil and English literature, music and photography.

Coverage on Firstpost

Firstpost and ChessBase India have collaborated to bring you extensive and detailed coverage of the chess scene in India and internationally.

 

The Sinquefield Cup and Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz is being extensively by Venkatachalam Saravanan. 

 

 

 

Curtain Raiser: Viswanathan Anand faces acid test at the star-studded Sinquefield Cup

Round one: Viswanathan Anand draws first round game against Hikaru Nakamura of United States


Sharing statistics:


Share on: