Sinquefield Cup 2018
Back in 2012 FIDE awarded the rights to organize the World Championship cycle to Agon (although not the Chennai match). Apart from the fact that I’ve won the subsequent two matches, the FIDE/Agon cooperation has in my opinion not been particularly successful. This time around it effectively stopped other organizers from making an attractive bid for the match. Anyhow, both Caruana and I have signed the contract, and the London match starting November 9th is on!
But, first we should focus on Sinquefield Cup, held for the 6thtime. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield show unwavering support for chess and the St.Louis Chess Club and chess in St.Louis continue to prosper. It is the 5thtime I’m participating in Sinquefield Cup, and after winning the first edition (with 4 players only) back in 2013, I’ve ended 2nd(or shared 2nd) every time since. It is the last of four events in the 2018 Grand Chess Tour culminating in a 4-player cup in London in December. I’m in the somewhat unusual position of being the wildcard in St.Louis as I declined to participate in the GCT this year.
It is one of the strongest classical tournaments in 2018. My opponents are Caruana, Mamedyarov, So, Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura, Karjakin, Anand, Aronian and Grischuk.
In round 1 was I black against Vachier-Lagrave and went for an offbeat Sicilian variation. Black may look a little bit cramped, but I did not have any problems in the game. The ensuing middle game was optically better for black but attempts in the open a-file as well as the semi-open f-file (which I chose) both looked very drawish. The game ended in a draw after repetition of moves just before the 1st(and only) time control.
Mamedyarov continued his success from Biel by beating Wesley So and Aronian returned to 1.e4 to beat Karjakin.
Today against Karjakin, I spent nearly 40 minutes early in the opening just to reach a theoretical line. It didn’t give white much of an advantage, but on the other hand only white had any active possibilities after the exchange of queens. Just before the time control I sacrificed an exchange and had ample compensation with the anchored bishop on c3. True to style he defended very passively and I tried to make progress without burning any bridges. Short on time late in the 6thhour I probably missed one or two promising continuations pushing the e and g-pawns, and he spent his last few minutes calculating the liberating g5-push. Despite activating his rooks the position was still quite tricky for black and playing on increments (or rather the actual 30 sec delay, where you cannot amass time for late use) he went wrong with Kc6 and Rh6+, Rb6 and e6 decided a few moves later.