Americans Abroad: May 14th

In this new periodic feature here at CLO, we’ll check in with top American players as they compete in important international events. This week we look at three just-completed tournaments to see how five of our best Grandmasters fared!

Grand Chess Tour: Côte d’Ivoire

Nakamura and So watch MVL and Carlsen (photo Lennart Ootes)

Magnus Carlsen continued his tremendous post-Caruana match hot streak, winning the Grand Chess Tour event in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire with a combined score of 26.5 points. (Rapid results are worth twice as much as blitz results in the GCT schema.) Hikaru Nakamura and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave tied for second place, while Wesley So finished in fourth.

photo STLCC

This win, as Norwegian journalist Tarjei Svensen notes, represents his fifth consecutive tournament victory.

Carlsen dominated the Rapid portion (May 8-10) of the competition, taking first by 1.5 points (7.5/9) over second place finisher Hikaru Nakamura (6/9). The result pushed Carlsen’s rapid rating over 2900. Wesley So shared third / fourth place in the Rapid with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave at 5.5/9.

Vachier-Lagrave took the Côte d’Ivoire Blitz (May 11-12) ahead of Carlsen with a 12/18 score. Carlsen, who lost to MVL in both blitz games, finished a half-point back at 11.5/18, while Hikaru Nakamura was in third place and Wesley So in sixth.

The next stop on the Grand Chess Tour will take place from June 26 – July 8 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Capablanca Memorial

Sam Sevian (photo Ootes)

18 year old Sam Sevian followed up on his solid showing in the US Championship by taking shared second place in the 2019 Capablanca Memorial, which ran from May 3-13 in Havana, Cuba. Vassily Ivanchuk was the tournament winner.

Sevian started well in Havana, winning two of his first three games. A Round 6 loss against GM Carlos Daniel Albornoz Cabrera – his only defeat in the event – proved a costly setback, but Sevian finished strong with two wins in Rounds 9 and 10. His penultimate victory over Ivanchuk is particularly attractive.

GMs Sam Sevian and Jeffery Xiong, Photo Crystal Fuller

Like his fellow junior Jeffery Xiong, Sevian is steadily moving up the world rankings, but with so many elite American players right now – Caruana, Nakamura, So, Dominguez, and Shankland, just to name a few – it does feel (as ex-pat GM Jon Tisdall writes) that somehow Sevian and Xiong are not getting the recognition they deserve.

Looking at the May 2019 rating list, Xiong is third among world U21 players, while Sevian is fifth. Other Americans in the top 100 include Awonder Liang (16th place), John Burke (25th), Ruifeng Li (34th), Akshat Chandra (50th), Nicolas Checa (66th), Brandon Jacobson (70th), Andrew Tang (73rd), and Advait Patel (98th). It’s an impressive showing for the Americans, and a sign of just how strong junior chess has become in the United States.

Russian Team Championships

Leinier Dominguez and Gata Kamsky made the trip to Sochi, Russia, to take part in the 2019 Russian Team Championships, perhaps the strongest team championship in the world outside of the Bundesliga.

Dominguez played second board for the eventual winner “Bronze Rider” from St. Petersburg, scoring an outstanding 6/7 and boosting his world ranking to 12th in the unofficial live ratings.

Dominguez’ results at the 2019 Russian Teams

Kamsky took his traditional spot on the Ladya team from Kazan, which is captained by former US Olympian GM Ildar Ibragimov. Playing second board, Kamsky played in all nine rounds, scoring a strong 6.5/9.

Kamsky’s results at the 2019 Russian Teams

Dominguez and Kamsky met in the fourth round, with Dominguez prevailing in an instructive positional game.

What’s Next?

Nakamura and So are set to compete in the 2019 Moscow Grand Prix that runs from May 17-30th. This is part of FIDE’s qualification system to determine two spots in the 2020 Candidates Tournament.

Dominguez and Kamsky are currently in Hengshui, China for the 2019 IMSA World Masters Championships. Dominguez is competing in the Men’s Rapid and Blitz, while Kamsky is doing live commentary with IM Jovanka Houska for the event. They are joined by GM Irina Krush, who is playing in the Women’s Rapid and Blitz events. Together the two tournaments run through May 18th.


  1. I agree with Bruce. I know that a number of coaches search ChessBase, etc. to see how our players are doing so they can tell their students at their weekly lessons. This summarizes it nicely and even gives us game material! Thanks John.

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