Nakamura and Caruana photos by Lennart Ootes, Mamedyarov by Spectrum Studios
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) grabbed the lead at the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz in the third day of play, both finishing with 12 out of a maximum 18 points (two points at stake in each rapid game).
Fabiano Caruana entered the day in the lead, but he had a self described “blackout” moment in round seven against Leinier Dominguez. When Caruana played 54.Re7 in what should be a winning position (after 54.Rg3! ) he was relying on the “fake fork” of Nxf5+.Dominguez was “ready to take the rook”, and revealed noticing Re7 prior in his post-game interview.
This game turned out to be quite fateful, as Mamedyarov and Nakamura both racked up points today, with key victories over MVL and Dominguez for Nakamura.
Shakhriyar defeated Karjakin in a beautiful game highlighted by 16.Bg6!, and followed it up with a win over Anand in the final round.
Mamedyarov called Nakamura the clear favorite going into the blitz portion, referring to the four-time US Chess Champion’s legendary speed chess skills. Nakamura called it a nice compliment, and revealed that he is also paying close attention to Grand Chess Tour standings, where he is in excellent shape, having previously won the Paris leg. Watch the blitz action with 9 rounds a day on Tuesday-Wednesday starting at 1:50 ET with analysis from Maurice Ashley, Yasser Seirawan and Jennifer Shahade.
WGM Jen Shahade and GM Yasser Seirawan, Photo Lennart Ootes