His explanation for why he could concentrate in his game against Carlsen was revealing: Nepo has also worked with top quality coaches such as Vladimir Potkin and worked as a second for Carlsen, so he’s no slouch in the opening.
From move 12 onwards, though, the players went their own way and we did indeed get a long manoeuvring struggle, though if Wesley had been on top form he might have spotted a fleeting chance to transform the game on move 22: 22…Nf4! Rc8: Sergey pointed out that the natural move is 46…exd4, which seems to solve all Black’s problems, but in fact White has 47.e5! 47…Nxc5 is met by 48.exf6 and Black can’t defend the knight without allowing the f-pawn to queen.
is a surprising double attack, hitting both the h3-pawn and the e2 knight, since if the e3-rook moves the knight on f3 is a goner. Nxf4, but it would have been Wesley dictating play. Qf7 and was unrecognisable as the player who had gone 67 games unbeaten as he drifted into trouble. rather than 39…Rb7 as the start of Black's woes, while he was “very happy to find a very nice manoeuvre, perhaps the hardest in the game”: 45. Any move by the attacked knight like 47…Nd5 runs into 48. and White combines an attack on the b6-rook with the lethal threat of Nf8 .
Sergey Karjakin inflicted a 4th loss of the 2017 Sinquefield Cup on Wesley So to join Magnus Carlsen half a point behind the leaders going into the final round. All the remaining games were drawn, though Aronian-Svidler and Caruana-Nakamura were great fights.
The famously hard to beat So has now dropped 18 rating points, plunging from world no. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian continue to lead, with the latter having the advantage that if all games are drawn on the final day he’ll take first without a playoff. MVL also decided to dodge any preparation lying in wait for him by playing 3…cxd4 4. rather than the more standard 4…Nc6 or 4...e6: Giri came within a whisker of winning that game, but Maxime varied on move 6 and, despite having a somewhat uncomfortable position, held a 30-move draw without much drama. The game of the other co-leader, Levon Aronian, was even shorter, but it was anything but a quiet draw. Peter commented that he, “stopped one ply short of something beautiful”, though in any case we might have been starved of that beauty, since Levon was planning to play 17. With the leaders all drawing there was a chance for Magnus Carlsen to catch them: Given Ian Nepomniachtchi’s erratic performance in the Sinquefield Cup it seemed Magnus Carlsen should have excellent chances of beating him, even with the black pieces, and catching the leaders before the final round.
Wesley So has been around supertournaments long enough to know how wounded animals are treated, with the polite and quietly spoken Sergey Karjakin saying afterwards that he hoped to, “just get a position where I can play for a long time and after some time he can make some mistakes”.
The game followed a Giuoco Piano setup Magnus Carlsen had played with both colours recently and which brought Anish Giri the crucial win with Black in his match against Ding Liren this week.Replay all of the games from the 2017 Sinquefield Cup using the selector below – click a result to open the game with computer analysis or hover over a player’s name to see all his results and pairings: Vishy Anand chose to dodge the Najdorf of his co-leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, meeting 1. Levon said that in terms of the tournament situation he should have played solidly, but as he’d also famously said just recently, “you have to play h4 whenever you can! Peter Svidler was duly surprised, but he was far from unhappy, soon coming to the confessional to make the game a little more like the Banter Blitz we know and love here on chess24! I really don’t understand what’s going on and Lev probably has it all worked out at home. Bf1, and though Black is better the outcome would have been far from clear. Here, though, their personal record comes into play.” He repeated the line of the English opening with an early h4-h5 that he’d used to beat Ian Nepomniachtchi in Round 1, but varied with 9. I’ve looked through the games I played in this tournament in my mind and it seems like maybe this is the first position by move 14 which it feels like I might enjoy playing - which is a scathing indictment of what I’ve been doing before and probably doesn’t even bode well for this game, but by this point I don’t care. Once again, probably not the greatest situation to find yourself in, but at least there is some air in the position as opposed to most of the stuff I’ve been getting with both colours. Svidler said he’d relatively quickly concluded that 16…Qxg2! We could have witnessed a game for the ages if 17.e4 0-0 18. (“not impossible to find, but it’s not easy either” – Svidler) 19. Instead Svidler was contemplating 16…Bh7 before settling on 16…Qd6 when Aronian decided his position was “too wobbly” to go pawn grabbing and we got a repetition after 17. Growing up together – they were both born in 1990 – Nepomniachtchi had the edge, scoring two classical wins in European and World Youth Championships.23.gxf4 would be met by 23…Qg6 and then 24…exf4, trapping the rook and winning back material. Wesley avoided all that with 46…Nxc5, but after 47.dxc5 the c-pawn was a monster and would decide the game.It’s been a tough event for the US players and this wasn’t the finest advert for their talents – except in terms of fighting spirit! (better than simply picking up the pawn) Nakamura did well to avoid immediate disaster with 40…Qa6! ) he should have been tortured for a couple of hours in a queen ending a pawn down, after 42. Instead Caruana, in his own words, “got a little too excited” and blundered with 42. As you can see, we can have a 2-player playoff, but not one involving 3 or more players, for reasons that are hard to fathom.Karjakin and Carlsen will also have the advantage of a higher number of wins if they win and the leaders draw, so their position is stronger than it looks. If only two of the leaders win they’ll play a playoff against each other, while if only one wins he’ll be champion without the need to puzzle over regulations!