Sinquefield Cup 2017

| Chess
| St. Louis, USA

I’ve been playing elite tournaments for more than a decade, and it is interesting to see how the composition of events has changed while continuing to offer attractive opportunities throughout the calendar year.

I was fortunate enough to join the elite in time to play in Linares (2007-9) and Melody Amber (Rapid & Blindfold) (2007-11). While these and other intermediary events (like Nanjing) has stopped or taken a break, there are a number of new great events already starting to boast five (and some ten) year anniversaries.

Turning to tournaments I’ve participated in 2017: Among the real classics, Tata Steel Chess in Wijk aan Zee continues its proud 80-year tradition.  Grenke Chess Classics, Norway Chess and Sinquefield Cup all started in 2013, and the Paris and Leuven Rapid & Blitz began last year.

I won the inaugural edition of Sinquefield Cup in 2013, and the next editions was won by Caruana, Aronian and So respectively. All four of us are back in 2017 to fight for a second tournament victory. We are joined by Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura, Anand, Karjakin, Svidler and Nepomniachtchi.

This year I haven’t been spoiled with great tournament starts, and I’m very satisfied with the win today and shared first, with Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave, after two rounds.

In the first round as black against Caruana yesterday I was able to equalize in the middle game and was hoping to put some pressure on him in the queen and rook ending. Not being able to put any real pressure on his potential weak c2-pawn, I forced matters with b3 and d3 followed by Qxf2! Avoiding a perpetual a pawn down still hoping for more, I had missed his Rf8 and was maybe slightly lucky to have a straightforward draw by capturing the pawn on d3. A fully acceptable start on a day that saw three quite spectacular wins by Aronian, Karjakin and Vachier-Lagrave.

In an otherwise miserable performance in Norway Chess in June, I won the penultimate round against Karjakin, and today I managed to beat him again. Choosing an innocuous opening, sort of a Kings Indian Attack, I was simply aiming for a playable position. Despite no opening advantage I felt I got an advantage in the middle game. Spending too much time on 19. Kh2 I started to get low on time and went for some simplifications starting with cxb5. It wasn’t obvious that white is any better until I got in f5. From an unclear position his structure collapsed remarkably fast, and it is always very pleasant to reach a won position with equal material. He had no counterplay and resigned after the first time control.

We are playing three more rounds this weekend. Friday I’m playing black against former World Champion V.Anand.