International Chess Federation
Wednesday, 25 Aug 2021 10:59
Day 7: Vachier-Lagrave grabs the lead

A clear leader emerged today as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave broke through the gridlock with a crucial win over Jeffery Xiong, giving him a half-point lead over Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez, who could only draw their games. Meanwhile, Fabiano Caruana scored an important victory as Black over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, propelling him into a tie for second place. With two rounds left to play, everything is still on the line both in terms of the tournament and the overall GCT standings.

Rapport - Dominguez | ½-½, 45 moves

A sharp counter-gambit (5...e5) in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted gave Dominguez the initiative from the opening, as he gained a lead in development while chasing down Rapport’s queen. Though Rapport defended well, finding all the right moves needed to go into a drawish endgame. More simplifications occurred before the players agreed to a draw in a dead-equal bishops of opposite color endgame.

Vachier-Lagrave - Xiong | 1-0, 29 moves

It only took one mistake (18...hxg4) for Xiong to land in massive trouble in the Berlin Endgame, as he erroneously opened up the h-file for White’s connected rooks. MVL wasted no time in seizing the initiative as he advanced his pawn all the way to f6 before taking over the h-file and soon crashing through with his pieces. Facing huge material losses with his king stuck on e8, Xiong resigned.

MVL’s 20.Rh1! led to catastrophe for Black, as the resulting invasion along the h-file simply couldn’t be prevented.

Svidler - Swiercz | 1-0, 35 moves

Despite solid preparation as Black in the Ruy Lopez, Swiercz quickly got himself in trouble after an ill-advised pawn grab (18...Qxc3) left his position under severe tactical strain. Svidler rapidly activated his pieces and managed to stir up threats that would soon win him a full piece. With no compensation for the lost material, Swiercz was forced to throw in the towel.

21.Ba4! was the killing shot in Svidler - Swiercz, leading to huge material losses after the follow-up of Ra3.

So - Shankland | ½-½, 34 moves

It wasn’t the best day for So, who outplayed Shankland in a topical line of the English but quickly let his advantage dissipate as he failed to find the optimal way to capitalize on his edge. Shankland took the opportunity to equalize with a nice pawn break (23...f6), successfully neutralizing White’s space advantage. From there, So forced a repetition of moves, and the game was drawn.

Mamedyarov - Caruana | 0-1, 38 moves

The final game of the day to finish was exciting throughout, with both players opting for a sharp struggle in the 4.f3 Nimzo. It was Caruana who held the initiative early on, as he had the safer king and more active pieces, but Mamedyarov held the better long-term chances, thanks to his two bishops and somewhat healthier structure. After defending quite well, however, Mamedyarov ended up blundering in mutual time-trouble, losing the exchange without any significant compensation for it. Caruana grabbed the extra material and was able to consolidate, forcing resignation before the end of the first time control.

26.Qe2 was the start of White’s problems, as after Caruana’s reply 26...Nf6! Mamedyarov immediately erred with 27.Qd1, losing the exchange after 27...Bxd3 28.gxf6 Bxf1 -+

Round 8 of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup takes place on Wednesday, August 25, 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 as well as

Text: IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Photo: Lennart Ootes and Bryan Adams

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August 10- August 16, 2021

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