2018-08-15

2018 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Recap – Blitz Day 1



After nine rounds of blitz, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura still remain in the lead of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, extending their lead over Fabiano Caruana to 1.5 points. There were several other changes in standings: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave moved up to the 4th place, only two points behind the leaders. Last year’s winner, Levon Aronian, is in the middle of the pack and three points behind the leaders and still has a chance of winning the event. Today was action packed, full of blunders, time trouble, and brilliancies. After nine more games tomorrow, the new champion will be crowned. 

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Final standings. In the rapid, a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0. In the blitz, a win is 1 point, a draw is .5 points and a loss is 0
Hikaru Nakamura and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were neck and neck the entire day. They either remained tied for first place or leapfrogged one another by half a point. The ultimate showdown happened in round 8 when the two players finally met face to face. The game ended in dramatic fashion when Mamedyarov wasn’t able to hide his frustration after blundering an entire rook in a winning position, thus allowing Nakamura to take the lead of the tournament. The Azeri grandmaster quickly recovered in the next game by defeating Anand in 20 moves, while Nakamura settled for a draw against Vachier-Lagrave, thus tying their scores once again.
Hikaru Nakamura remains on top of the crosstable
Fabiano Caruana also ended the day where he started but had more of an imbalanced day. He started the day off strong by defeating his countryman Wesley So and then drawing Nakamura. What really cost him was his loss to Alexander Grischuk in round 7. Caruana reached a study like position but his one second hesitation cost him the game as he ran out of time before he was able to press the clock . He remains 1.5 points behind the leaders and is still in a position to win the event. 

The hero of the day, however, was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who scored a phenomenal 7 points out of 9 games. The Frenchman was simply unstoppable and played a big role in the standings by defeating Mamedyarov, Caruana, and Karjakin back to back and drawing Nakamura. Were it not for his poor showing in the rapid, he would be dominating the tournament. He remains a striking distance away from the leaders, and if can repeat today’s performance, he will take home the title
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was simply brilliant today
Leinier Dominguez, Sergey Karjakin, and Levon Aronian were tied for fourth place after the rapid but are now behind Vachier-Lagrave who leapfrogged all of them. Alexander Grischuk, who was tied for last place with Viswanathan Anand, actually had the second best score today with 5.5/9 and improved his standings significantly although he still does not have a realistic chance of winning the event. Neither Wesley So nor Viswanathan Anand seem to be able to find their form in Saint Louis as they scored 3 and 3.5 points respectively.
Friendly atmosphere between the games
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Venue: 
Saint Louis Chess Club
August 10–16, 2017

It is the mission of the Saint Louis Chess Club, an educational organization, to maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess.

Watch the games of the  Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2018 with computer analysis LIVE on ChessBomb.

2018-08-14

Saint Louis Rapid 2018 - Day 2 Recap


After the final day of the rapid, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura emerged as the new leaders. Fabiano Caruana conceded his leadership spot after losing his first game of the day then drawing the next two. Mamedyarov and Nakamura are currently only one point ahead of Caruana who is in third place, and three points ahead of Karjakin, Aronian and Dominguez. Since wins will be worth only one points in blitz, catching the two leaders will require immense amount of work and luck from the rest of the field. The next two days of blitz are not to be missed!

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Final rapid standings. In the rapid a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0

Round 7


This was set to be the most important round for the standings. Not only did Leinier Dominguez defeat the leader Fabiano Caruana and blow the tournament open, but all four players who were two points behind the leader were paired. The round was heartbreaking for Caruana as he played an excellent game and achieved a winning position, only to hallucinate at the last moment and blunder his rook. In the matchup between Shakhiryar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin, the Azeri grandmaster declined a draw by repetition and went on to completely annihilate his opponent after launching an attack. Hikaru Nakamura was also successful in his game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, with whom he was tied coming into the round. With these crucial wins, both Mamedyarov and Nakamura joined Caruana in the lead.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov contemplating accepting the draw by repetition

Round 8


This was the calm after the storm as all the leaders drew, bringing no significant changes to the standings. The surprise of the round was Vachier-Lagrave’s second loss in a row, this time to Aronian. The Armenian played what he thought was a brilliant tactic but missed a counter tactic by his opponent. In a winning position, the Frenchman moved his king away from a check to the wrong square and soon was forced to resign. The other decisive result was between Wesley So and Alexander Grischuk, where the American demonstrated how to handle the dangerous King’s Indian attack and bring home the point.
Hikaru Nakamura in the postgame interview

Round 9


A quick draw against So was not enough for Caruana to keep his position on the leaderboard. Both Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura leapfrogged Caruana with wins over Viswanathan Anand and Leinier Dominguez respectively. Mamedyarov’s aggressive style paid off as Anand wasn’t able to fend off his opponent’s kingside pawn storm. Nakamura’s task required more effort but he was able to prove that bishops are better than knights in an open position with a fine win. The rest of the games ended in a draw.
Leinier Dominguez ultimately changed the fate of the rapid
Watch all the action live on GrandChessTour.org
Further Information:
Web: GrandChessTour.org | Twitter: @GrandChessTour
#GrandChessTour

Venue: 
Saint Louis Chess Club
August 10–16, 2017

It is the mission of the Saint Louis Chess Club, an educational organization, to maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess.

Watch the games of the  Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2018 with computer analysis LIVE on ChessBomb.

2018-08-13

Saint Louis Rapid 2018 - Day 2 Recap


Day two of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz brought a lot of exciting action but only a few changes in the standings. After three more rounds of exhilarating rapid games, Fabiano Caruana still leads the tournament by two points. Caruana drew all his games but none of his rivals were able to surpass him. Coming into the day, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Sergey Karjakin were two points behind the leader and at the end of the day they were joined by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura. Tomorrow will be the final day of the rapid and ideally Caruana would like to extend his lead going into the blitz as the wins will only be worth one point.

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Standings after round 6. In the rapid a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0

Round 4


The round saw peaceful results but a lot of action! The only decisive result came from Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who had a very comfortable ten minute edge on the clock and a better position against Alexander Grischuk. This critical win put him only a point behind the leader and a point ahead of Sergey Karjakin. The Russian is not only notorious for his poor time management but he also arrived the night before the first round due to travel issues and doesn’t seem to have adjusted to the time difference. The game between Levon Aronian and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was the only other encounter that was likely to have a decisive result after the Armenian decided to get creative in a normal position and sacrifice his queen. The decision wasn’t very sound but luckily for him he escaped with a draw.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was all smiles at the beginning of the day

Round 5


The key matchup of the round was between Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave. It was a topsy turvy affair where the Frenchman had the upper hand for most of the game but allowed his opponent one chance to get a winning edge. The opportunity was missed and the game eventually ended in a draw. Wesley So suffered his third loss of the event when his blunder on the 50th move allowed Leinier Dominguez’ pawn to queen. Viswanathan Anand started the tournament with a brilliant win over Nakamura and was also winning against Aronian in this round, but he lost the thread of the game and eventually blundered the game away. The all Russian match up of Grischuk and Karjakin, as well as Mamedyarov vs Nakamura, were drawn.
Tough day in the office for Wesley So

Round 6


The day ended with an action packed round that brought a lot of changes to the standings. First, Vachier-Lagrave found himself in a completely lost position after 10 moves with the white pieces against Mamedyarov. The game lasted longer than expected, but the Azeri grandmaster got the job done. Aronian clearly came to fight as he chose one of the most dangerous lines against Nakamura’s Najdorf. The game was extremely double edged, but after Aronian missed a win on move 30, things went downhill for him. With this win, Nakamura joined joined the tie for second place. Caruana drew one of his closest rivals, Sergey Karjakin, thus securing his first place position. The leader of GCT, Wesley So, finally scored his first full point of the event but defeating Viswanathan Anand.
Hikaru Nakamura is looking to repeat his Paris result
Watch all the action live on GrandChessTour.org
Further Information:
Web: GrandChessTour.org | Twitter: @GrandChessTour
#GrandChessTour

Venue: 
Saint Louis Chess Club
August 10–16, 2017

It is the mission of the Saint Louis Chess Club, an educational organization, to maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess.

Watch the games of the  Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2018 with computer analysis LIVE on ChessBomb.

2018-08-11

Saint Louis Rapid 2018 - Day 1 Recap


After a month break, the Grand Chess Tour finally arrived to the capital of chess in the United States. The last half of the tour kicked off with the second annual Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. After the first day of rapid, Fabiano Caruana is leading the event with a perfect score. In his own words,  the day couldn’t have gone any better. Coming into Saint Louis, the American is in last place in tour standing but is still looking for his chance to qualify to the finals in London. In another shocking turn of events, the leader of the tour, Wesley So, finds himself at the bottom of the standings after suffering two losses.

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Standings after round 3. In the rapid a win is worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point and a loss is 0

Round 1


The day started with a peaceful result between Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian as well as wildcard Leinier Dominguez and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. However, blood was spilled in the other three games, all of them in attacking style. Fresh off his victory in Biel ahead of Magnus Carlsen, Shakriyar Mamedyarov continued his winning streak by destroying Wesley So’s kingside  after the latter went pawn hunting on the queenside. Viswanathan Anand couldn’t resist an exchange sacrifice that left Hikaru Nakamura’s king completely defenseless against the incoming attack. Alexander Grischuk was also on the receiving end of a mating attack, when when in an opposite side castled position, his own attack was too slow, allowing Fabiano Caruana’s pieces to overwhelm his king.
Vishy Anand won a beautiful game in his true style

Round 2


Fabiano Caruana delivered another mating attack, this time against Levon Aronian. A thematic knight sacrifice forced his opponent to part ways with his queen and thus lose the game. Hikaru Nakamura bounced back from his first round loss by defeating his countryman Wesley So. Things went wrong for So in the endgame when his knight was left out of the action and Nakamura’s passed pawn became unstoppable. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played a very instructional game, demonstrating that opposite color bishop endgames aren’t always drawn. His endgame skills helped him secure a win over Vishy Anand. Sergey Karjakin won in less than 30 moves after Leinier Dominguez decided that there was no point in continuing to play a two pawn down position. The only draw of the round was between Shakriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk, when, out of thin air, the Russian created counterplay in a completely lost position and drew the game with a perpetual. 
Sergey Karjakin is tied for second place after one win and two draws

Round 3


It was a quiet round with four draws with the exception of the game between Caruana and Mamedyarov. The game was so complicated that neither the players nor the commentators knew how to accurately evaluate the position. The Azeri grandmaster sacrificed a piece for two pawns in exchange of a powerful pawn chain. Caruana was under pressure but due to his resourcefulness created difficulties for his opponent. Mamedyarov erred as he started to get low on time, letting the advantage slip. Caruana consolidated his position and  went on to convert his material advantage flawlessly. 
The most complicated game of the day
Watch all the action live on GrandChessTour.org
Further Information:
Web: GrandChessTour.org | Twitter: @GrandChessTour
#GrandChessTour

Venue: 
Saint Louis Chess Club
August 10–16, 2017

It is the mission of the Saint Louis Chess Club, an educational organization, to maintain a formal program of instruction to teach the game of chess and to promote and support its educational program through community outreach and local and national partnerships to increase the awareness of the educational value of chess.

Watch the games of the  Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2018 with computer analysis LIVE on ChessBomb.