Round 2 of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup saw tournament underdog Hans Niemann score his first win of the event, defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to join the early lead alongside Magnus Carlsen, who drew with Levon Aronian. Meanwhile the 2022 FIDE Candidates winner, Ian Nepomniachtchi bounced back from yesterday’s loss to defeat Alireza Firouzja in fine technical style.
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 plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game; with a 30-second increment starting from move 1.
Round 2 Results
ARONIAN - CARLSEN | ½-½, 37 moves
Surprised by the Bogo-Indian Defense, Aronian opted for the solid 4.Bd2 variation over the more ambitious 4.Nbd2. Carlsen exchanged dark-squared bishops and quickly played d7-d5, obtaining a slightly worse but very holdable position. Aronian wasn’t able to pose any significant problems in the middlegame and the players soon simplified into a drawn bishop endgame.
Carlsen: “I think nobody really loves these games, but at this level they happen”. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
NEPOMNIACHTCHI - FIROUZJA | 1-0, 50 moves
After sacrificing a pawn early in the Catalan, Nepomniachtchi was able to put Firouzja under serious positional pressure, as it was not obvious how Black should untangle. Firouzja decided to give back the pawn in order to trade down into a rook ending, but the endgame proved more difficult for Black than anticipated. A further error gave Nepomniachtchi an extremely comfortable position, where he could calmly advance his kingside majority until his advantage was completely decisive.
After 31.f4, Black’s position was practically lost, with no counterplay against White’s simple plan of pushing the e- and f-pawns. 1-0, 50 moves
A nice comeback win for Nepo, who is back on 50%. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
NIEMANN - MAMEDYAROV | 1-0, 49 moves
A sharp line of the English left Mamedyarov in some danger out of the opening, as he deviated from known theory with the questionable 13…b6. However Niemann wasn’t able to find the right way to capitalize, as Black managed to create serious counterplay against White’s king, soon winning an exchange. It was then Mamedyarov’s turn to go wrong, as he missed the strongest continuation and was forced to give back the exchange, leaving Niemann with an extra pawn. A further mistake left Mamedyarov in a lost queen and pawn endgame, which Niemann converted with good technique.
After 30.Rb1!, the unnatural 30…Bxd5 might have held, but instead Black faltered with 30…Ba8, allowing 31.Rxb8 Qxb8 32.Bxa8 Qxa8 33.Qxd7!+- with a winning queen endgame for White. 1-0, 49 moves
The 19-year-old Niemann scored his first ever win over a 2750+ rated player. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
CARUANA - DOMINGUEZ | ½-½, 46 moves
In a battle of Petroff specialists, the players entered an incredibly sharp middlegame where Caruana had sacrificed a pawn in order to establish a strong central grip. Dominguez started to spend lots of time, and went for complications where Caruana could sacrifice an exchange and force Black to walk a tightrope to survive. Caruana then missed two opportunities for a decisive advantage, eventually allowing Dominguez to escape with a draw.
After Dominguez’s 26…Rf8, 27.Qd7! would have been very strong, where both 27…Rxf4 28.Nf7++- and 27…Qb6 28.Nf7+ Kg8 29.Re7!+- would be winning for White. Instead Caruana played 27.Qe4, keeping a large advantage for the time being. ½-½, 46 moves
Caruana missed some serious chances against Dominguez today. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
VACHIER-LAGRAVE - SO | ½-½, 43 moves
A theoretical Berlin endgame that featured lots of early trades left the players with a rook and bishop each after twenty moves, with MVL having a small edge due to his slightly better structure. Facing a difficult defense, So chose to sacrifice a pawn in order to activate his rook–a decision that proved fruitful as the position soon simplified into a drawn rook ending.
MVL was a bit better, but could not crack So’s Berlin. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
The 2022 Sinquefield Cup continues Sunday, September 4, starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Peter Svidler, Yasser Seirawan, and Alejandro Ramirez on grandchesstour.org and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels