Sinquefield Cup Round 7: Vachier-Lagrave takes the lead
A quick victory for GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave over GM Jeffery Xiong in the seventh round of the 2021 Sinquefield Cup put the French star at the top of the table with 5/7. This is the first time in the whole tournament that we have a single leader.
GM Fabiano Caruana beat GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and joined GM Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez at 4.5 / 7. DG Peter Svidler finally celebrated his first tournament win by beating GM Dariusz swiercz.
Sinquefield Cup | 7th round classification
The first game to end was a draw between GM Richard Rapport and Dominguez. Before you dismiss it as another grandmaster draw, take a look at the insane opening line, followed by a queenless midgame, and I bet you’ll appreciate the effort the players put in.
Dominguez has retained his position among the leaders, while Rapport is probably out of the race for the top spots. Without a doubt, Richard would love to get another win to get above the 50% mark, and I look forward to his match with Caruana scheduled for the final round.
Fabiano helped his cause by winning with the Black against a Mamedyarov in bad shape. This game was very complex from the start, and I would have liked to have had my colleague GM Dejan Bojkov to help me out, but no luck. I hope my little notes can give some insight into what happened.
Fabiano’s heroism was not enough to put him back in a tie for first place, as Vachier-Lagrave won his match, and did it fairly quickly. Xiong made only one mistake in his handling of Berlin, but it was enough for Vachier-Lagrave to score the full point and take the lead in the tournament.
This is how the tournament finally got an undisputed leader. MVL won the Sinquefield Cup in 2017 in a much stronger field (So and Nepo shared last place that year), and he’s no stranger to pressure situations. It would take a big effort from Caruana, Dominguez and So to finish ahead of Vachier-Lagrave.
Sometimes I’m surprised at how easily Wesley So wins some games, and even more so how easily he lets go others. The position he secured after 18 strokes promised much more than Wesley was capable of delivering. I shouldn’t forget to congratulate general manager Sam Shankland, who once again showed marked improvement in all areas of chess, this time in defense.
So he has a tough finish: MVL with Black and Dominguez with White, and he’s probably not the favorite to win it all, but I think Wesley is cool with that – Wesley is cool with everything.
The match between the two players who occupied the last place wins the honors of the match of the day. You won’t be surprised when you see it. Svidler put on a total masterclass on how to coordinate your pieces and take advantage of the absence of the same on the opposing camp.
Swiercz must be wondering what can go wrong for him in Saint-Louis. As if the four losses he had already suffered weren’t enough, today he received Svidler’s best game in the tournament. What can you do, sometimes the very gods of chess seem to be conspiring against you.
Two more rounds to play, stay tuned.
All Round 7 games
The 2021 Sinquefield Cup tournament is the final stop on the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. Matches started on August 17 with 10 of the world’s best chess players competing for a share of the $ 325,000 prize.
You can read more information about the event here.