Wesley So was the sole winner of Day 2, after managing to trick Dariusz Swiercz in a difficult rook endgame to earn the full point as Black. Meanwhile, the co-leaders Lenier Dominguez and Fabiano Caruana drew a complicated game, while Maxime Vachier-Lagrave held against Richard Rapport to maintain the lead with 1.5/2.
Swiercz - So | 0-1, 45 moves
Despite being well prepared against So’s Berlin Defense, Swiercz burned lots of time in the well-known ‘Berlin endgame’ and could not fight for any tangible advantage. Instead, he fell under pressure in an equal rook endgame and soon had to defend a worse position while also in heavy time trouble.
Facing a difficult decision to go into a king and pawn endgame with just two minutes left on the clock, Swiercz chose wrong, missing the precise path to hold the endgame. Instead, he opted to keep the rooks on the board but was simply lost, as So promptly converted his extra pawn into a victory.
36...Rc6! gave White a difficult choice in time-trouble, as 37.Rxc6 had to be followed with computer-like precision to draw in the king + pawn endgame, while 37.Ra5 led to a lost rook ending after 37...Rc3+ and a quick ...Kg5
Svidler - Mamedyarov | ½-½, 46 moves
Svidler fell into trouble early on as he walked into an unfamiliar line of the Italian Game and soon lost a pawn out of the opening. Mamedyarov managed to trade down into a rook ending, but accurate defence from Svidler allowed him to save the endgame without too much difficulty.
Rapport - Vachier-Lagrave | ½-½, 36 moves
A symmetrical English saw the players reach a balanced position in the middlegame, with Rapport having a bit of a space advantage while MVL secured a nice outpost on d4 for his knight. With neither player able to do much in the position, a repetition was found and the Game was drawn shortly before the first time control.
Dominguez - Caruana | ½-½, 51 moves
In what was an interesting struggle Caruana sacrificed a pawn in a topical line of the Italian, looking for long-term compensation in the form of active pieces aimed at White’s kingside. Dominguez played well to neutralize Black’s initiative, but ultimately couldn’t find the most incisive route to keep his advantage. Instead, Caruana earned enough activity to force White to give back the pawn, and the players soon simplified into a drawn queen and pawn endgame.
Shankland - Xiong | ½-½, 63 moves
The longest encounter of the day saw an incredibly sharp opening as Shankland castled queenside in a Maroczy Bind and seemed to achieve a considerable advantage. However, Xiong created serious counterplay on the queenside, soon forcing Shankland to trade down into an equal endgame. Despite pushing for several hours, Shankland was unable to generate any real winning chances, and the players eventually traded everything down to bare kings to force a draw.
Round 3 of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup takes place on Thursday, August 19, starting at 2:50 PM CDT with all of the action covered live by commentators GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Alejandro Ramirez, and GM Maurice Ashley. Watch live on grandchesstour.org as well as twitch.tv/kasparovchess.
Text: IM Kostya Kavutskiy
Photo: Lennart Ootes and Austin Fuller
Web: GrandChessTour.org | Twitter: @GrandChessTour
Instagram: @GrandChessTour | Facebook: @GrandChessTour
Saint Louis Chess Club, USA
August 10- August 16, 2021
Photos: Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour and Spectrum Studios Credits available on Flickr.