Fabiano Caruana won a crucial game against Wesley So to not only equalize in the tournament standings, but actually clinch victory in the overall 2023 Grand Chess Tour. Meanwhile, Leinier Dominguez defeated Rapport to win his second game in a row, leaving himself with a great chance of earning the 2024 FIDE Candidates qualification spot by rating. With two rounds left to play, the Sinquefield Cup, along with the two qualifying spots available (FIDE Circuit, January 2024 FIDE Rating) are both very much up for grabs.
CARUANA-SO | 1-0, 25 moves
A 4.e3 Nimzo seemed to catch So off-guard as he erred in the opening with 10…b6, allowing Caruana to seize the initiative with 11.Qf3! From there Caruana played a perfect attacking game, culminating with a brilliant flurry of tactics against So’s uncastled king. With the win, Caruana mathematically secured victory in the 2023 Grand Chess Tour, earning a bonus $100,000 first place prize.
Caruana-So: After 18.Bxf7+!, White’s pieces started crashing through. 18…Kxf7 is met with 19.Qc7+ followed by Rd6 to win back White’s sacrificed piece.
Two straight wins for Caruana, who clinched tour victory after today’s round. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
DOMINGUEZ-RAPPORT | 1-0, 35 moves
An Advance Caro left Rapport doing well out of the opening, as he even declined a repetition around move 20 in order to play for a win. However this decision ended up backfiring, as in mutual time-pressure Rapport opened up his own kingside with 24…f6, allowing Dominguez to soon launch a strong attack. Dominguez then managed to flood into Black’s position with his pieces, quickly forcing resignation in view of heavy material losses.
Dominguez-Rapport: After 29.g6!, Dominguez followed up with Ng5-f7, Qh5, and even Nd6!, creating huge problems for Black.
Dominguez is now only 0.4 rating points behind So on the live FIDE rating list, with a very clear chance of qualifying to next year’s candidates. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
NEPOMNIACHTCHI-FIROUZJA | ½-½, 43 moves
A fascinating game arising from the 4.e3 Slav, where it seemed that both players were well-prepared for some time, as they ended up in a sharp rook vs. two minor pieces endgame. Under some pressure, Firouzja started to spend lots of time, but managed to hold the ending without allowing any chances.
Nepomniachtchi tested Firouzja’s prep, but ultimately couldn’t get anywhere. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
ARONIAN-GIRI | ½-½, 30 moves
Playing the Petroff, Giri showed good preparation to equalize out of the opening, where he achieved a middlegame with opposite colored bishops. Aronian tried but was unable to pose any serious problems, after which Giri generated some counterplay with his h-pawn on the kingside. Aronian then decided it was time to repeat, a result that seemed to suit both players.
VACHIER-LAGRAVE – FREE DAY
The Sinquefield Cup continues on November 29, with live coverage starting at 1:15 PM CST. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Peter Svidler, and Jovanka Houska on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels!
Written by IM Kostya Kavutskiy