Hikaru Nakamura Claims Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Title;
Three-Way Tie Between World Champ Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Fabiano Caruana for Sinquefield Cup
SAINT LOUIS (August 30, 2018) – The world’s most elite chess grandmasters spent the last weeks of August at the Saint Louis Chess Club competing in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz and the Sinquefield Cup, the final two stops on the Grand Chess Tour. Among the premier international chess tournaments, Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz and Sinquefield Cup feature differing rates of play over a grueling 14 days of competition for a true test of chess genius.
American Hikaru Nakamura was crowned the winner of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, while the Sinquefield Cup concluded in a three-way tie for first between World Champion Magnus Carlsen, Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian and American Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament kept spectators on the edge of their seats as the first place position traded hands throughout. American Fabiano Caruana led during most of the rapid portion of the event, but blitz gave rise to fellow Olympiad teammate Hikaru Nakamura and Azerbaijani GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. In the penultimate round, Nakamura was able to beat Mamedyarov to secure the title. French GM and defending champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vied for a repeat victory but was never able to overcome a poor first-half performance.
With the victory, Nakamura was awarded $37,500 and 13 Grand Chess Tour points, in the process qualifying for the Grand Chess Tour finalé to be held in London in December. The total prize fund was $150,000.
“It was very nice to win this event,” Hikaru Nakamura said about his second Grand Chess Tour win and first international event win at the Saint Louis Chess Club. “I felt that today, for the most part, I played quite well. More or less, it is nice to win and qualify for London.”
Immediately following the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, the nine Grand Chess Tour players started the only classical event of the tour, the Sinquefield Cup. The 2018 Sinquefield Cup saw the world’s top players fight to win in classical chess games with a $300,000 prize fund and final Grand Chess Tour standings on the line. World Champion Magnus Carlsen was invited as the wildcard of the event, guaranteeing a showdown with World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana in the only preview of the upcoming World Chess Championship this November.
At the end of eight rounds, American Fabiano Caruana was in the lead by half a point. In the ninth and final round, Caruana drew his game while two of his closest rivals - Carlsen and Aronian - each won to draw even with Caruana. With a three-way tie for first between Aronian, Carlsen, and Caruana, tournament organizers turned to a tiebreak method to determine head-to-head matchups for two players in a playoff. After following tiebreak protocol, all three players remained tied, forcing a random drawing of lots between the three, eliminating one player by mere chance. With this procedure in mind, Sinquefield Cup organizers decided to share the title, rather than see an opponent eliminated by chance over skill. The resulting decision concluded the 2018 Sinquefield Cup with co-champions Aronian, Carlsen and Caruana crowned in Saint Louis.
“This year’s Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz and Sinquefield Cup tournaments were spectacular displays of genius, providing drama and intrigue at chess’ highest level,” said Tony Rich, Saint Louis Chess Club Executive Director. “It’s an honor for the Saint Louis Chess Club to routinely host some of the premier international chess competitions in the world. For nearly three weeks, the world’s best players displayed their brilliance and resilience at the chess board on a truly global stage in Saint Louis. We hope all who watched these tournaments are inspired by these athletes.”
At the conclusion of the Sinquefield Cup, the updated Grand Chess Tour standings guaranteed Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave qualification for the overall Grand Chess Tour title to be played in London, December 11-17, 2018. The remaining fourth spot was a tie between Americans Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, forcing a tiebreak playoff. After two games of rapid chess, Fabiano Caruana emerged victorious and will join Nakamura, Aronian, and Vachier-Lagrave in London. The Grand Chess Tour title will feature three-day semifinals and finals—each in classical, rapid, and blitz style—and will be broadcast live at grandchesstour.org.
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About the Saint Louis Chess Club
The Saint Louis Chess Club is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to making chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons, and special lectures.
Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Saint Louis Chess Club is committed to supporting those chess programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the development of new in-school and after-school programs. For more information, visit saintlouischessclub.org.
About The Grand Chess Tour
The Grand Chess Tour is a circuit of international events, each demonstrating the highest level of organization for the world's best players. The Tour was created in partnership between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (Sinquefield Cup) and Chess Promotions, Ltd. (London Chess Classic). The legendary Garry Kasparov, one of the world's greatest ambassadors for chess, inspired the Grand Chess Tour and helped solidify the partnership between the organizers.