It was another exciting round as Leinier Dominguez joined the leaders thanks to a spectacular victory over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So drew their game to remain on a ‘plus two’ score. Meanwhile, Darius Swiercz scored his first victory in the event, defeating Jeffery Xiong, as did both Sam Shankland and Richard Rapport, bouncing back from yesterday’s losses with nice wins over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Peter Svidler.
Dominguez - Vachier-Lagrave | 1-0, 33 moves
A theoretical battle in the Najdorf turned into a brilliant victory for Dominguez, who found several exceptionally precise maneuvers to generate a decisive attack on the kingside. Vachier-Lagrave tried to put up some resistance, but it simply wasn’t enough as White’s pieces soon crashed through to deliver a forced mate.
31.Qe1! was the killer blow, threatening Qe6+ as well as ideas on the h-file. After 31...Bf6 32.Rh6!+- it was all over.
Rapport - Svidler | 1-0, 36 moves
After starting with 1.g3 Rapport managed to achieve a complex middlegame, gaining the pair of bishops early on and slowly building up pressure in the center. Although Svidler’s position was tenable, he didn’t react correctly to White’s advances on the kingside and soon found himself under an irresistible attack. Rapport was accurate until the end and forced resignation after his attack netted him a whole piece.
30.f5! gave White a crushing attack on the kingside. After 30...Ra6 31.f6 White followed up with Qxg3 and Qh4, with a decisive advantage.
Shankland - Mamedyarov | 1-0, 44 moves
Mamedyarov’s surprising treatment of the Berlin Defense caught Shankland off-guard in the opening, but it wasn’t the end of the world as Sam reached a fairly equal endgame with two knights and a better structure against Black’s two bishops. Although the game remained balanced for some time, Mamedyarov misplayed the position and all of a sudden fell worse when he could no longer sufficiently defend his weaknesses. This allowed Shankland to win a pawn, and then another, before smoothly converting the material advantage to win his first game of the event.
Caruana - So | ½-½, 53 moves
In the critical match-up between the leaders, Caruana did not get much out of the opening, a Symmetrical English, but did obtain a structural advantage in the middlegame after saddling Black with an isolated queen pawn. Unfortunately for Caruana, he wasn’t able to increase his advantage, and So held the draw with some patient defence.
Swiercz - Xiong | 1-0, 54 moves
Despite losing his first three games of the event, Swiercz continued to play principled chess and was rewarded for it, winning after a sharp struggle in a 6.Bg5 Najdorf. The game quickly reached a boiling point in the middlegame after a risky decision by Xiong to castle queenside, giving White huge attacking chances against Black’s king. Swiercz seized the opportunity and opened up the queenside to start a furious attack but was unable to land the knockout blow because of Xiong’s stubborn defence. Once the players reached the time control, Swiercz found himself up an exchange and won in style after Xiong missed the only saving defence.
53.b4! was the final winning shot, as 53...Kxb4 54.Qe7 leads to a winning king and pawn endgame, as does 53...Qxb4 54.Qa2+, followed by Qxb2 where White’s f-pawn will decide.
Round 5 of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup takes place on Saturday, August 21, starting at 2:50 PM CDT, with all 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
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Saint Louis Chess Club, USA
August 10- August 16, 2021
Photos: Courtesy of Grand Chess Tour and Spectrum Studios Credits available on Flickr.