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Wesley So wins Sinquefield, Anand joint second

by Sagar Shah - 17/08/2016

Vishy Anand played a super solid tournament with eight draws and one win to finish joint second at the Sinquefield Cup 2016. Vishy, who will turn 47 in four months from now is competing on par with guys like So, Nakamura, Caruana, Giri, MVL etc. who are half his age. Wesley So played a great tournament and won the event with a score of +2. We have analysis from rounds eight and nine and also the reason why Anish finished on the last spot in the tournament.

Pictures from the Flickr account of Grand Chess Tour


Wesley So played a great tournament scoring wins over Veselin Topalov and Hikaru Nakamura to win the Sinquefield Cup 2016. A group of four players finished joint second with +1. They included Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana and Veselin Topalov. This is how the standings looked at the end of the event.

For India's Vishy Anand, this was a fine event. He drew eight games and won one against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. At the age of nearly 47 years he is still able to compete with players half his age like So, Caruana, Giri, Nakamura, MVL and this is highly commendable.

We covered all of Vishy's games until round seven in our previous report. Let's have a look at his games eight and nine and also a few impressions from the tournament.

Round eight

Anand vs Veselin Topalov 0.5-0.5

This was an amazing game. Even though it ended in a draw it had all the makings of an exciting battle. This board position after move 20 is enough to convince you how unconventional were the decisions taken by both the players.

Anand (White) was ready to get his knight trapped in the corner of the board. Topalov was fine with the tripled pawns in return for that!

The battle between two rivals who have fought each other in the past for the highest title

It was refreshing to see Topalov doing well in the tournament and battling for the top spots. He missed it only by a whisker when he drew a completely winning rook endgame against Levon Aronian in the last round.

Detailed Game Analysis: Anand vs Topalov

[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2016.08.13"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Topalov, Veselin"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2770"]
[BlackElo "2761"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2016.08.05"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O $5 {It is quite rare these days to see
Anand going for Berlin. He likes to play the Anti Berlin with 4.d3. But
against Topalov he picks up the challenge.} Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5
Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 b6 {Not at all the most popular move. In fact only two
games have been played with it. One being Sethuraman vs Harikrishna.} 10. Nc3
Ke8 11. Rd1 Bb4 12. Ne2 Bb7 13. Ned4 Nxd4 14. Nxd4 {White's strategy has been
quite simple in this game. No exquisite manoeuvres, no deep ideas. Such
strategy more often than not doesn't work against the Berlin!} Bc5 (14... c5
15. Nb5 $16) 15. Nf5 Rg8 (15... g6 16. Ng7+ Ke7 17. Bg5+ Kf8 18. Bf6 {is
curtains for Black.}) 16. g4 h5 17. Be3 g6 (17... Bxe3 18. Nxe3 {This looks
pretty good for White as he has the kingside majority. However, the position
is objectively around equal.} c5 19. f4 $6 (19. Kh2 {Playing it safe is better.
}) 19... hxg4 20. hxg4 g5 $1 21. f5 Rh8 $15 {And Black has excellent
counterplay.}) 18. Nh6 Rh8 19. Bxc5 bxc5 $1 {Sometimes to gain something you
have to lose something. You have tripled pawns, however, the knight on h6 is
trapped and that leads to a fine position for Black.} (19... Rxh6 20. Be3 Rh8
21. Kg2 c5+ 22. Kg3 $16 {Everything is in White's favour. The bishop will
stand perfectly on g5 and the white king is well placed. All in all this is
quite a horrible opposite coloured bishop scenario for Black.}) 20. g5 Bc8 21.
h4 Ke7 22. f4 {White's dream is to get in f4-f5. But Black will prevent it at
all costs.} Be6 23. Rf1 Rad8 24. c3 {Anand takes control of the d4 square but
this turns out to be too slow.} (24. f5 {Could this direct strategy be fine
for White?} gxf5 25. Nxf5+ Bxf5 26. Rxf5 Rd4 27. Raf1 Rf8 {The h4 pawn is
falling and it seems like Black has enough counterplay.} 28. e6 $5 Kxe6 29.
Rf6+ Kd7 30. Rxf7+ Rxf7 31. Rxf7+ Kd6 $11 {And the game will most probably end
in a draw.}) 24... Bh3 25. Rf2 Ke6 $1 {Now f5 is under control and the rooks
are going to double down the d-file. White has to be careful.} 26. Re1 Rd3 27.
Re4 Rhd8 28. Ra4 {This is quite an overambitious move. The two black rooks and
the bishop are capable of launching a deadly attack and White has to calculate
things precisely here.} Rd1+ {Now Anand is able to salvage the draw.} (28...
Re3 $1 {Was not so easy to see but would have given Black some chances.} 29.
Rxa7 Rd1+ 30. Kh2 Bf1 31. Rxc7 Rh3+ 32. Kg1 Bc4+ 33. Kg2 Rdh1 34. f5+ (34.
Rxc6+ Kd5 35. Rd6+ Ke4 $19) 34... gxf5 35. Rxc6+ Kd5 36. Rf6 Bd3 37. Rd6+ Ke4
38. Rxd3 Kxd3 39. Nxf5 R1h2+ 40. Kg1 Rxf2 41. Kxf2 Ke4 $17) 29. Kh2 R8d3 30.
f5+ gxf5 31. Raf4 Bg4 32. Kg2 Bh3+ 33. Kh2 Bg4 34. Nxg4 hxg4 35. Kg2 g3 36. Re2
Rb1 37. h5 Rdd1 38. Kxg3 Rh1 39. Rc4 Kd5 40. Rf4 Rbg1+ 41. Rg2 Rxg2+ 42. Kxg2
Rxh5 43. Rxf5 {An exciting game with lots of imbalances which shows how
unprejudiced these top guys are when it comes to playing chess. They are ready
to accept triple pawns or get their knight trapped in the corner as long as
they can see good play for themselves!} 1/2-1/2


Round nine

Peter Svidler vs Anand 0.5:0.5

Peter's confidence was on the rise after he beat Anish Giri in the penultimate round

But against Vishy's Berlin he had very little chance of getting an advantage. It's true that it was Anand who needed the win badly, as it would give him the chance to catch up Wesley on the leaderboard. But there was absolutely no chance of that happening. Both the players played a solid game and the result was a fair draw.

[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2016.08.14"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2016.08.05"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Be6 7. O-O Bd6 8.
b3 Nd7 9. Nc4 O-O 10. h3 Qe7 11. Nxd6 cxd6 12. d4 {With this move White tries
to exert pressure on the Black's position. With Ba3 coming up Anand has to be
careful.} f5 $1 {Vishy realizes the need to be active and immediately breaks
in the centre.} 13. dxe5 (13. Ba3 fxe4 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qg5 $15) (13.
exf5 Bxf5 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Qxe5 16. Ba3 Rfe8 17. Bxd6 Qc3 $44) 13... dxe5
14. Ng5 f4 15. Nxe6 Qxe6 {The position has stabilized and White may have a
tiny bit of an edge but Vishy neutralizes it without any difficulties.} 16. Ba3
Rfd8 17. Qe2 Nf6 18. Rfd1 g5 {Ambitious play? Yes, Anand wants to fight for
the first place but the position is just too simplified.} 19. f3 Kf7 20. Rd3
Rxd3 21. Qxd3 h5 22. Rd1 g4 23. hxg4 hxg4 24. Qd6 {Svidler exchanges the
queens and defuses the attack.} Qxd6 25. Rxd6 Rg8 26. Kf1 Rh8 27. Kg1 Rg8 28.
Kf1 Rh8 29. Kg1 Rg8 30. Kf1 1/2-1/2


Anand's joint second finish is a great result but he no longer has the chance of winning the Grand Chess Tour.

These are the Grand Chess Tour Standings after Paris, Leuven and Sinquefield Cup. Three guys will be fighting for the top spot: Wesley So, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura. The others do not have a chance because the winner of the London Chess Classic (last leg of the Grand Chess Tour 2016) gets 13 points.

Wesley So played some high class chess and won the Sinquefield Cup 2016

Standings of Sinquefield Cup 2015! Look at the name Wesley So. You will find him right at the bottom of the table. And in 2016 he is the winner! Thoroughly inspiring!

Hikaru Nakamura had a topsy turvy event but finished it off with an excellent win against Ding Liren
[Event "4th Sinquefield Cup 2016"]
[Site "Saint Louis USA"]
[Date "2016.08.14"]
[Round "9.4"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Ding, Liren"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D43"]
[WhiteElo "2791"]
[BlackElo "2755"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2016.08.05"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 dxc4 7. e4 g5 8. Bg3 b5
9. Be2 Bb7 10. h4 g4 11. Ne5 Nbd7 12. Nxd7 Qxd7 13. Be5 Qe7 14. b3 cxb3 15.
axb3 a6 16. Qc1 Rg8 17. O-O Nh5 18. d5 Qxh4 19. g3 Qg5 20. dxc6 Qxe5 21. cxb7
Rb8 22. Nd5 $3 {The killer shot which ends the game!} exd5 23. Qc8+ Ke7 24.
Rxa6 Nxg3 25. Bxb5 Ne2+ 26. Bxe2 f6 27. Re6+ Qxe6 28. Qxb8 1-0
Queen to c8! Ding's look says it all!
Guess the player!
It is not often that you see Anish finishing last. He lost his both his eighth and ninth rounds. What can be the reason? Well, this is what happened after the seventh round and it could be quite possible that Anish was exhausted after it!
The man who makes such a high class tournament possible - Rex Sinquefield. Here he is being interviewed by Maurice Ashley.
It's always a joy to see Garry Kasparov! Garry is in Saint Louis to take part in the Team Rex vs Team Randy exhibition Match which will take place on the 16th of August 2016. The action will begin at 11.30 p.m. IST. You can catch it live here.