Sinquefield 09

Sinquefield 09: Lucky Breaks

Two players in this tournament have had difficulties holding acceptable positions and converting advantageous ones. However today finally both of these players received a little “break” and managed to draw their lost games. Aronian entered a complicated rook endgame against Carlsen, but White misplayed it and allowed a Vancura defense. Nakamura held on by the skin of his teeth

For the first time in this event all games finished in a draw, but the way to get there varied greatly between each game. You could argue that two of the players received a gift from their opponents, as both Nakamura and Aronian were lost today.

Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ Nakamura, Hikaru
Nakamura can count his lucky stars in this one. Following the recent Anand-Karjakin game from the 2014 candidates, the American soon found himself in a slightly worse position when he allowed White some rook activity with the rook-lift Rd4. After that the position demanded precision and care, but Nakamura was not able to find the exact defense

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Nakamura finally got a lucky break this event

Caruana’s activity netted him a pawn, and two of those were passed. He had the chance of ripping apart Black’s blockade in several occasions, first with a pawn sacrifice and then with a more obvious exchange sacrifice that would have forced Nakamura to resign. After missing these opportunities Nakamura suddenly found saving chances and he exploited them perfectly, eventually reaching a lucky draw.

Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ Aronian, Levon
The World Champion obtained some comfortable pressure in the opening, and slowly but surely it seemed as if that pressure was increasing – especially with some strange and weakening moves by Aronian. However the Armenian’s play wasn’t senseless at all, somehow he obtained counterplay and the position was not easy to play for either side.

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Carlsen almost won like his old self, but he let it slip at the last moment

A mistake left Aronian in a difficult rook endgame that required an incredible amount of precision. Carlsen reached a winning position but blundered it all away with the move 46.h6?? instead of 46.Kc2! With this error Aronian was able to beautifully show the Vancura Defense and obtained a draw out of seemingly nowhere. Many spectators without access to tablebases were confused online as the engines keep saying this position is a win, but it most certainly was not.

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Carlsen tried for dozens of moves after the game was clearly drawn

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Aronian’s rook endgame was hard to evalute, but a win was there

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime ½-½ Topalov, Veselin
White’s opening did not yield him much, and the game was equal almost all the way. Neither side had a significant strategical advantage at any point and when all the pieces came off the game was drawn.

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Topalov solidly remains in the third position, one point ahead of…

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MVL and Aronian