Grand Chess Tour Comes Home for Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz

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2021 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz
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Cancelled in 2020, the Grand Chess Tour has returned with players in 2021 - just no spectators - for the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. // photo Lennart Ootes

 

The Grand Chess Tour has arrived in the U.S., marking the finale portion of its 2021 circuit and a return to its mid-American home. And the locals came to play. 

Ten of the world’s top players – including the top six of US Chess – are at play in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, which began Wednesday and runs through the weekend as the fourth GCT event of the summer. The international tour has now visited four continents since May, finally squaring up inside the Saint Louis Chess Club for two consecutive events; the Sinquefield Cup, using the classical time control, will follow the speed event. 

Though the upgrade from a completely cancelled 2020 tour is certainly of choice, the effects of the global pandemic are still at work creating havoc for tournament organizers – the least of which is the barring of spectators from the usually spectator-friendly event. Several GCT full-tour participants were unable to find their way into the U.S. due to travel restrictions, though the effect has a silver lining for US Chess fans: the speed event is filled with wildcard Americans. 

 

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Grandmasters Wesley So and Sam Shankland
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Full-tour participant GM Wesley So meets wildcard GM Sam Shankland in St. Louis during the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. // photo Lennart Ootes

 

Already featuring GMs Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So as full-tour players, meaning their participation in both of the GCT’s classical events and two of three speed events, the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz has brought in four other US Chess players as wildcards. GMs Sam Shankland, Jeffery Xiong and Leinier Dominguez are all in after their participation in the FIDE World Cup, while GM Hikaru Nakamura has picked an appropriate event for his return to the board: rated 2900 FIDE as the world’s highest-ranked blitz player. 

 

2021 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Field

Title

Name

Player Type

URS Rating

Residence

GM

Wesley So 

Full Tour Player  

2793

USA

GM

Fabiano Caruana

Full Tour Player 

2784

USA

GM

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Full Tour Player 

2767

Azerbaijan

GM

Richard Rapport

Full Tour Player

2742

Hungary

GM

Hikaru Nakamura

Wildcard

2803

USA

GM

Peter Svidler

Wildcard

2738

Russia

GM 

Leinier Dominguez

Wildcard

2750

USA

GM 

Liem Le

Wildcard

2737

Vietnam

GM

Sam Shankland

Wildcard

2697

USA

GM

Jeffery Xiong

Wildcard

2690

USA

 

Also in St. Louis is Azerbaijani GM Shakhiryar Mamedyarov and Hungarian GM Richard Rapport, both full-tour participants, with additional wildcard players in Russian GM Peter Svidler and Vietnam GM Le Quang Liem, who recently took over as head coach of Webster University up the road in suburban St. Louis.  

Play began on Wednesday first with the rapid portion, which plays three 25+10 games per day over three days, and each game counting double in the standings. The blitz portion will play Saturday and Sunday, with nine games each and scoring traditionally. 

 

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Standings after Day 1
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courtesy Grand Chess Tour

 

Four Americans are bunched at the top after Day 1: Caruana and Dominguez lead, both scoring two wins and a draw on Wednesday; So and Nakamura trailing in second place, with one win and a draw. 

Caruana had this nice dismantle of the London System in Round 2 against Liem Le, digging in for the positional battle with 10. … Nb8, the beginning of an excellent reroute of the knight. The black steed found its first outpost at 16. … Nf5, drawing the first mistake from Liem Le in his attempt to kick the piece with 20. g4. Weakening the white king’s safety, the move only pushed the knight to an even-more powerful post at 23. Ne4; White dropped a pawn to remove it. In the rook-and-queen endgame, Liem Le’s decision to take his pawn back at 39. Qxe6 was the fatal mistake, granting the black queen access to his backline. 

[pgn][Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2021"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.08.11"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Le, Quang Liem"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2806"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (2s)"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2021.08.13"] [EventType "rapid"] {[%evp 9,108,25,43,5,15,-19,-8,-10,14,18,25,24,27,-13,-13,-15,-15,-17,21,18,18, -33,9,-36,-36,-38,3,-26,-28,-38,-28,-69,-69,-93,-99,-98,-99,-95,-95,-102,-101, -112,-104,-111,-120,-110,-108,-106,-33,-84,-85,-85,-85,-85,-85,-90,-68,-93,-80, -90,-66,-70,-73,-79,-76,-130,-124,-123,-128,-308,-307,-307,-311,-308,-313,-307, -309,-310,-307,-311,-309,-313,-306,-313,-309,-295,-284,-657,-1112,-704,-1100, -1132,-1076,-1322,-1323,-1303,-1317,-1293,-1300,-1303,-1353]} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Nbd2 c5 6. c3 {D02: 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 sidelines, including 2...Nf6 3 g3 and 2...Nf6 3 Bf4.} O-O 7. Bg3 b6 8. Bd3 {The position is equal.} Ba6 9. Bxa6 Nxa6 10. Qe2 Nb8 $1 {[%cal Ba6b8,Bb8c6,Bc6e7,Be7f5, Bf5d6,Bd6e4][%mdl 32] 10...Nb8 scores better than 10...Nc7.} 11. Ne5 Qc7 12. O-O Nc6 13. f4 Ne7 14. Bh4 $1 Nd7 $146 ({Predecessor:} 14... Nf5 15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. Ng4 Be7 17. e4 dxe4 18. Nxe4 Kg7 19. Ngxf6 Qd8 20. Nh5+ Kh8 21. dxc5 bxc5 { 1-0 (36) Kamsky,G (2830)-Storme,I (2515) Chess.com INT 2020}) 15. Rad1 (15. e4 $11) 15... cxd4 (15... f6 $15 {should be considered.}) 16. exd4 (16. Bxe7 $11 Bxe7 17. exd4) 16... Nf5 $15 17. Bf2 Be7 (17... Rae8 $15 {might be stronger.}) 18. Nd3 Nf6 19. Rde1 Rae8 20. g4 (20. Rc1 $11 {is superior.}) 20... Nd6 21. Bg3 Nfe4 22. Kg2 Nxd2 23. Qxd2 Ne4 24. Qd1 Bd6 25. g5 f5 26. gxf6 Rxf6 27. Nf2 Nxf2 (27... Bxf4 28. Nxe4 dxe4 29. Rxe4 $14) 28. Rxf2 Bxf4 (28... Ref8 $17) 29. Rxf4 (29. Ref1 $1 $15 Bxg3 30. Rxf6 gxf6 31. hxg3) 29... Rxf4 $17 30. Qe2 Qf7 { aiming for ...Qg6.} 31. Bxf4 Qxf4 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame KQR-KQR} 32. Rf1 Qd6 33. Qh5 Qe7 34. Qe5 b5 35. Rf3 a6 36. a3 h6 37. h3 ({Better is} 37. Kh3) 37... Rf8 38. Re3 {[#]} Kh8 $1 39. Qxe6 $2 {Now White is beyond hope.} (39. Qh5 $17 { was necessary.}) 39... Qg5+ $19 40. Rg3 Qd2+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} 41. Kh1 {[#]} Rf1+ $1 (41... Qxb2 42. Qe7 $17) 42. Rg1 Rxg1+ 43. Kxg1 {KQ-KQ} Qc1+ ( 43... Qxb2 44. Qc8+ Kh7 45. Qf5+ g6 46. Qf7+ Kh8 47. Qf6+ Kh7 48. Qf7+ Kh8 49. Qf6+ Kh7 50. Qf7+ $11) 44. Kg2 Qxb2+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} 45. Kg1 Qc1+ ({ Don't play} 45... Qxc3 46. Qxd5 Qg3+ 47. Kf1 $19) (45... Qxa3 46. Qc8+ Kh7 47. Qf5+ Kg8 48. Qxd5+ Kf8 49. Qf3+ Ke7 50. Kf2 $17) 46. Kf2 Qd2+ ({But not} 46... Qxc3 47. Qxd5 Qb2+ 48. Kg1 $19) ({Less strong is} 46... Qxa3 47. Qc8+ Kh7 48. Qf5+ Kh8 49. Qc8+ Kh7 50. Qf5+ Kg8 51. Qxd5+ Kf8 52. Qc6 $15) 47. Kf1 Qxc3 48. Qxd5 $2 (48. Ke2) 48... Qc4+ {Black is clearly winning.} 49. Qxc4 bxc4 {KP-KP} 50. Ke2 g5 51. d5 Kg7 52. Ke3 h5 53. Kd4 g4 54. d6 Kf7 {Weighted Error Value: White=0.30/Black=0.08} 0-1 [/pgn]

 

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GM Fabiano Caruana
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GM Fabiano Caruana at the 2021 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. // photo Bryan Adams

 

Day 2 of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, with rapid games 4-6, will begin on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. local time. Live games may be viewed on the Grand Chess Tour website, as well as live commentary from GMs Yasser Seirawan, Alejandro Ramirez and Maurice Ashley on the Kasparov Chess Twitch Channel


Quick Links:

Grand Chess Tour website

Live Games

Twitch Commentary

Rapid Pairings and Results

Blitz Pairings and Results

 

 

Comments

Great "this is what is happening now folks" " WORLD CLASS WORLD EVENT coverage /much appreciated. KEEP IT COMING..Jude Acers/ New Orleans

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