The Sinquefield Cup is always an amazing event and has come to solidify its place as one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world. Every year, the best chess players from around the world converge on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to compete in the round robin tournament. The Sinquefield Cup is also memorable for Fabiano Caruana’s incredible run in 2014, which I built a commemorative wall piece to celebrate the tournament. After some scheduling changes due to the upcoming Baku Olympian, this year’s event included Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler, and wildcard Ding Liren.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen opted out of this year’s event so that he could focus on the upcoming World Chess Championship in New York.
After some thrilling games between the world’s elite players it was Wesley So, the former Webster University prodigy, who took a commanding lead early in the tournament and cruised to a solid victory with 5.5/9 pts.
The Sinquefield Cup is part of the second Grand Chess Tour, which aims to promote professional chess around the world. The Grandmasters featured in the Sinquefield Cup are regular participants in the tour. For details and photos from the Sinquefield Cup, check out the detailed analysis on Chessbase.
You really have to hand it to Magnus Carlsen. As one of the youngest chess champions in history, he has transformed the professional chess world with major brand endorsements, his own clothing line, his own brand/chess app, and is noteworthy as the first World Champion to develop his chess abilities in the age of prevalent chess computers. In the 2014 World Chess Championship, Carlsen effectively destroyed former champion Viswanathan Anand where there were no shortage of comments and questions about him being past his prime and Carlsen being the young wave of the future.
Earlier this week on February 21 in Hamburg, Play Magnus hosted a simul exhibition with 70 players. The German paper Die Zeit organized the event to commemorate its 70th birthday, which puts its first publication right after the end of World War II. In this competition sat one person for every year that Die Zeit has faithfully published to its readers.
70 boards ready to take on Magnus Carlsen. (Credit: Play Magnus)
As you can see, the setup for the event was stunning with each player receiving a Play Magnus chess set which was autographed by the World Champion after the event. Some of the competitors were invited to the event while others were chosen from a pool of over 1,000 applicants.
Carlsen’s six-hour battle. (Credit: Chess24.com)
At the halfway point of the event, Carlsen had shut his opponents out with an amazing 30 wins and 0 losses or draws. At the conclusion of the event, which lasted around six hours, the World Champion emerged with an exceptional record of 67 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss. It is easy to lose sight of the wins in this situation because of the startling number of losses. This defeat came at the hands of Jens-Erik Rudolph, who is identified by Chessbase as a City League chess player with an 1981 ELO.
Magnus Carlsen’s single loss in the simul.
After struggling somewhat last year, it is refreshing to see Magnus playing such good chess recently. Additionally, it was nice to see that there was an eclectic mix of people participating in the simul including a nine-year old chess player and a famous futbol coach among others. Although I have to consider variables such as the number of people Carlsen played in this simul it is nice to know that the World Champion himself is not impervious to defeat at the hands of players < 2000 ELO. Rudolph’s 1981 ELO gives me hope, I tell ya.
American Grandmaster Wesley So achieved victory through a blitz tiebreaker against GM Anish Giri 1.5-0.5. Giri made headlines earlier this week for destroying Vishy Anand in Round 4 and for playing a mammoth 172 move draw against Ding Liren. Unfortunately the recently married GM from the Netherlands was unable to keep up the pace and was outmaneuvered in the tiebreaker by So. Wesley was the only player to win a game in the first half of the tournament and quickly became an early favorite to take the lead or at least find himself in a deathmatch with Giri. Like his American counterpart GM Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So is also a deadly blitz master:
Check out a complete recap with photos and commentary on Chessbase.
On Thursday as the Bilbao Masters tournament resumed play into Round 4 nobody expected that former World Champion Viswanathan Anand would be offering up such a scathing criticism of his own game. Anand fought back hard and tournament commentators believed that he had a fighting chance to win the game but lost on time. Anand had this to say about his loss:
Today was perhaps the worst game of my life. I’ve never made so many ridiculous moves.
For a man of Vishy’s chess playing caliber it is hard to imagine such a devastating loss occurring in high-level chess, but it does happen! Just when I or others think that the 5-minute blitz game that was bombed at 2AM on Chess.com was the worst game of our lives…there are things worse than that. Judge for yourself by replaying Vishy’s Round 4 game against Anish Giri in its entirety:
Read more on the match between Anand and Giri on Chess24.com.