Grand Chess Tour 2015: Levon Aronian wins the Sinquefield Cup
Former World# 2, Levon Aronian from Armenia put on a spectacular performance to win the Sinquefield Cup 2015, scoring six points, a clear point ahead of the pack of four players who finished with five points, in the nine round single round-robin tournament. There wasn’t a single moment in the entire event where Aronian looked in danger at the board, let alone being in danger, in fact he played some brilliant games, where in it seemed like he had cast a spell making his pieces come to life and think on their own.
The victory having boosted the Armenian’s confidence, couldn’t have come at a better time since he has had a mediocre year losing a lot of rating points, knocking him off the top 10 in the rating list. The victory may help him get back in the top ten; however it remains to be seen if the ‘gifted tactician’ has the finesse and determination to be a World Champion.
Veselin Topalov had a blistering start to the event as he stormed into the lead scoring wins against the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen in round 1, his second win against Magnus this year, and Nakamura in round 2. The Bulgarian looked unstoppable and was leading the event with 3 points after 4 rounds alongside Levon Aronian, but unfortunately for Topalov he managed to score just one and a half points in the remaining 5 rounds.
Magnus Carlsen once again had a poor start, however the script was different this time around as he joined Aronian in the lead after the 5th round, scoring successive wins against the Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So. The Norwegian looked well on course, but played a dismal game in the 7th round to lose to Alexander Grischuk who as usual made the game more exciting for the fans by finishing the game off with seconds left on his clock.
Alexander Grishchuk provided the much-needed fireworks on the board, as six out of nine of his games were decisive. The Russian is well known for giving his fans a heart attack by blitzing out moves in the final seconds of time control and if he hadn’t been a chess player, my best guess is that he would have been in a bomb squad saving lives. It remains to be seen if Grischuk can change his timing style and do justice to his actual playing style.
The American showstopper Hikaru Nakamura had a decent tournament overall and is on the right track as far as the rating list goes, however, he still seems clueless when playing against his arch rival and the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. Although he played two brilliant attacking games he simply lacked the consistency to pose any threat to the tournament leader.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri were stable and rock solid, despite their good performance and final standing, they never seemed to have the desire to win the event.
Fabiano Caruana and Viswanathan Anand had a disastrous start losing in the first two rounds. The duo never recovered after their short castle and they were saved from finishing last by Wesley So’s long castle which included his losses in round 4, 5 and 6.
Overall it was a tournament with lots of twists and turns, and an event which set really high standards when it came to organizing and presenting Chess to fans around the world! One minor turn-off for me as a chess fan was the player confessions during play which seemed silly and instead the focus needs to shift towards the chess fans at the venue.
As for the game that really set the tone of the event: Levon Aronian’s brilliancy against Fabiano Caruana in the opening round.