Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand finished joint second after playing out a draw with Wesley So of United States in the Sinquefield Cup, which concluded in St. Louis.
Finishing with a tally of 5.5 points out of a possible nine, Anand also gained some valuable rating points to inch closer to the 2800 rating mark. With seven draws and two victories, Anand has moved to seventh place in the world ranking.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France deservedly won the Sinquefield Cup with his best ever performance in an elite tournament. With a photo-finish guaranteed before the start of the round, the tone was set by Vachier-Lagrave who scored a crushing victory against Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia to take his tally to an insurmountable six points.
The other overnight leader Levon Aronian’s super-run in super-events ended as he ran into a resurgent reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Carlsen won a fine game to join Anand in second spot, while Aronian had to be content with the joint fourth spot along with Sergey Karjakin of Russia.
Besides Vachier’s big win and Carlsen’s fine performance, the day produced another decisive result that went unnoticed. Peter Svidler of Russia, who had lost the first game and then seven, defeated Fabiano Caruana of United States.
For Anand there was no real chance to score a win as Wesley So expectedly played a solid line with white pieces. Anand in fact was in some troubles in the middle game with a worse pawn structure and position but it did not mean much as Wesley So has been woefully out of form in this event.
A rook and pawns endgame was reached quickly and the players signed the peace after 33 moves. Vachier-Lagrave tricked Nepomniachtchi in to a slightly worse position right from the opening by opting for an innocuous looking variation. The Russian did not know what hit
him and in no time he was staring at a long and painful defense.
The Frenchman was seen strolling after nearly every move to keep a tab on other relevant games from this point on and wrapped it up in 52 moves.
Carlsen was unperturbed by some attacking attempts of Aronian and won a piece out of a closed Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall in the late stages of the middle game.
The closest that Aronian came was when Carlsen made a move with just two seconds remaining on the clock, but once the world champion concluded that there was no game left.
While the Sinquefield Cup is officially over, there is another big event coming up at the same venue in just a couple of days. The St. Louis rapid and blitz tournament will have legendary Garry Kasparov back on the chess board in an official event after 12 years’ gap. Anand will also
Results round 8: Wesley So (Usa, 3) drew with V Anand (Ind, 5.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 6) beat Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 3); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5.5) beat Levon Aronian (Arm, 5); Peter Svidler (Rus,4.5) beat Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 4); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 3.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 5).