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.
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.
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