After 9 rounds, Levon Aronian of Armenia finished at the top with 6 points. That gave him the sole leadership in the tournament as he emerged as the unquestioned champion. There was a possibility of the tie, while world champion Magnus Carlsen played his ninth round against Indian grandmaster and five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand. However, Carlsen settled for a draw against the unyielding Indian and finished with 5 points. In the overall standings, the second place was taken by Anish Giri, Carlsen occupied the third spot, Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was fourth, USA’s Hikaru Nakamura was fifth, Bulgarian Veselin Topalov sixth, Russia’s Alexander seventh; India’s Vishy Anand eighth, Italian Fabiano Caruna ninth and USA’s Wesley So took the tenth place.
In the 8th round, Aronian played Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and tried to pressurize him but the Indian thwarted him by successfully neutralizing Aronian’s pawn with some clever moves. Then the Armenian sacrificed a pawn to create more pressure on the b-file by taking the advantage of an awkward knight on a5 for Anand. However, Anand had everything under control and the two players agreed for a draw.
In the 9th round, Aronian played with black pieces against Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov. Having already reached 5½ points after his match against Anand, all the Armenian needed was a draw. He is known as one of the greatest defenders and he played against the Bulgarian to perfection. Topalov employed a dubious variation of Ragozin in tryng to catch Aronian off-guard. But the Bulgarian didn’t succeed and after 31moves, they settled for a draw.
Carlsen played his 8th round with USA’s Hikaru Nakamura. The American was in trouble straightaway against the world champion, who pushed Nakamura to the brink. From there; Carlsen could have easily won but he made several mistakes and allowed Nakamura to get away from a totally lost position. Despite heavy torture from Carlsen, the American could manage a draw. Two drawn games in rounds 8 and 9 resulted in Carlsen reaching 5 points and finishing third in the tournament.
In other round 8 matches, Netherlands’ Anish Giri drew with Italy’s Fabiano Caruna; Russia’s Alexander Grischuk drew with French grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and American GM Wesley So drew with Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov. Therefore some round 9 matches became quite crucial. However, Levon Aronian was already in the lead with 5½ points and barring unforeseen circumstances, the Armenian held the promise of emerging the tournament winner.
In a round 9 match on the last day, Italy’s Fabiano Caruana had a great opening against USA’s Wesley So but Caruna couldn’t consolidate on his opening and allowed So to get away and the match was drawn. Another draw came in round 9, when Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France played against Netherlands’ Anish Giri. MVL obtained some advantage by sacrificing a pawn but the Frenchman became somewhat careless in later moves and it became a drawn rook endgame. The last game of the tournament was an intriguing duel between USA’s Hikaru Nakamura and Russia’s Alexander Grischuk. Nakamua won that game on the strength of his willpower and the American finished fifth in the final standings. With such results, Levon Aronian emerged as the winner of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup, which is the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour.
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