At the end of round five, the Sinquefiled Chess Tournament became a tight race after 10th placed Fabiano Caruna defeated round-4 leader Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. Topalov had a dream start against Caruna but the Italian turned the tables on him to register his first win. Also with Magnus Carlsen winning one more game, Topalov is no longer the leader. In the top spot now, the Norwegian is tied with Armenia’s Levon Aronian, who drew with Russia Alexander Grischuk. India’s Vishy Anand played another draw against French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. With such a result, it has become quite difficult for the Indian, who has only two losses and three draws to show against his performance in Sinquefield chess. Now only a miracle can send the Indian to the top.
Anand played the first game of Round-5 against Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and came out with another novelty in the Najdorf. That seemed to catch MVL off guard. But the French Grand Master found a way to wriggle out of the predicament despite being down a pawn. It was a little surprising that Anand didn’t go for the kill or at least torture his opponent after holding the advantage. The third consecutive draw after losing Rounds 1 & 2 has kept Anand at no.9 while Wesley So is the new occupant of the basement. Anand next takes on Anish Giri of the Netherlands in Saturday’s Round-6.
The next game between USA’s Hikaru Nakamura and Dutch GM Anish Giri followed the line of The Paulsen/Taimanov. It was a surprisingly deep preparation but the American played the wrong rook and lost his chance. However, an error from Giri allowed the American to bounce back and the game was drawn.
In the tussle between Levon Aronian and Russia’s Alexander Grischuk, the Armenian introduced a novelty by playing the Panov Caro-Kann. But the Russian outplayed his opponent and held an advantage. However, with the kings castled on either side, Grischuk couldn’t find a suitable variation in his moves. Also the Russian ran against the time pressure and Aronian obtained a draw.
In his game against Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov, Fabiano Caruna scored a win to emerge out from the bottom. Topalov looked dominant at start but when he pushed his pawn to e6, he yielded the advantage to Caruna. The Italian swiftly advanced on the kingside and found himself in the winning position. Topalov’s next moves were insufficient and Caruna obtained his first victory.
The last match of round-5 was played between world champion Magnus Carlsen and USA’s Wesley So. The Norwegian showed his class by pressurizing So despite being down by a pawn. The American simply wilted, when Carlsen played a dominant knight on d5. The combination of the strong knight and the pawn on the kingside resulted in exerting heavy pressure on the Black king. In trying to wriggle out of the sticky situation, Wesley So committed an error. The American found it hard to decide about his move and time pressure brought additional discomfort. Carlsen missed a few winning moves but it didn’t matter in the end since Wesley So left in resignation.
While the victory took Carlsen to the top of the points’ table, he is not alone. Levon Aronian’s super fourth round performance ended up with 3.5 points and the Armenian shares the top spot with Carlsen. The participants have a rest day on Friday and they will resume with Round-6 on Saturday.