2021 Sinquefield Cup - Round 2 Recap

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, 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.

Standings after Round 2

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes, with a 30-second increment added from move one.

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 was unable to 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.

With every round Wesley So gets closer and closer to becoming the 2021 Grand Chess Tour Champion. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

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 defense from Svidler allowed him to save the endgame without too much difficulty.

Svidler found himself in trouble quickly, but managed to survive in the end. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

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.

Vachier-Lagrave had relatively few problems holding today against Rapport. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

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 wasn’t able to 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.

After 19.Qxc3--White had a clean extra pawn but Black’s pair of bishops and knights on the kingside gave Caruana enough compensation to equalize.

Dominguez had an extra pawn against Caruana but could not maintain his advantage. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Shankland - Xiong | ½-½, 63 moves

The longest game of the day saw an incredibly sharp opening as Shankland castled queenside in a Maroczy Bind and seemed to achieve a large advantage. However Xiong was able to create 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.

Shankland vs. Xiong went the full distance, ending with two kings on the board. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Round 3 of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup will take place 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.