Nakamura Clinches STL Rapid & Blitz, Leads Grand Chess Tour

The final day of the blitz was a tug-o-war for the lead between Hikaru Nakamura and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The two players entered the day tied for 1st, and every round seemed to alternate between either of the players leading or a tie with 6 lead changes in 9 rounds.

In round 16, Nakamura pulled ahead for the last time with a crucial victory against Levon Aronian.

Puzzle #1

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Levon Aronian

White to move.

The pivotal moment of the tournament was the head-to-head game between Nakamura and Mamedyarov in round 17.

Puzzle #2

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Hikaru Nakamura

Black to move.

This victory gave Nakamura a 2 point lead over the field, clinching 1st with a round to spare.

In addition, this tournament combined with his win at Paris GCT gives Nakamura a commanding lead in the Grand Chess Tour standings with 33 points, 8 points ahead of his closest rival, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

MVL won clear 2nd by leapfrogging Mamedyarov with a victory over Nakamura in the final round.

Puzzle #3

Hikaru Nakamura vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

How did MVL press his endgame advantage into a victory?

Black to move.

Fabiano Caruana finished the event in 4th, demonstrating marked improvement over the previous two GCT Rapid & Blitz events.

In round 17, the current World Championship challenger defeated his predecessor, Sergey Karjakin, with an exciting attack on the king.

Puzzle #4

Sergey Karjakin vs. Fabiano Caruana

Black to move.

For more information on the STL Rapid & Blitz and Grand Chess Tour, visit the Official Website.


Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award.

You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West




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