The 2019 Sinquefield Cup came to an exciting conclusion on Aug. 29, in a tiebreak match between Ding Liren and Magnus Carlsen.
The day kicked off with two rapid games, both of which concluded in draws. In the first game, the world champion had to resort to passive defense to save the half-point with the white pieces, then went on to draw comfortably with the black pieces.
From there, the match moved on to blitz, the fastest time control in chess. In the first thrilling game, Ding outplayed his opponent but was having difficulty putting in the finishing touch to get the full point. With seconds left on the clock, after just one second hesitation, Carlsen ran out of time, thus conceding the game.
This result meant that he was in a must-win situation to keep the match going. The spectacular second blitz game is how the tournament will be remembered, as Ding delivered the final blow with lightning-fast speed, stunning his opponent.
The final position was so picturesque that even the world champion couldn’t help but smile upon resignation. Ding earns $82,500 and 16 Grand Chess Tour points for his efforts. He is now in second place in overall GCT standings and has almost certainly punched his ticket to London.
The Sinquefield Cup was the last classical tournament of the season on the GCT. The tour concludes in November with rapid & blitz tournaments in Bucharest, Romania, and Kolkata, India, before the top four players in the standings play in the finals at the London Chess Classic at the end of the year.
World champion Carlsen maintains a commanding lead on the GCT, but the next eight players are all within fighting distance for the final three spots for the London final. November’s two rapid & blitz tournaments will decide the top four qualifiers, and there are many players who will be fighting for every point available.
All of the GCT events will be broadcast from the Saint Louis Chess Club and can be viewed on Grandchesstour.org.
Tatev Abrahamyan is an Armenian-born American chess player who holds the title of woman grandmaster.