Who Will Be the 2018 STL Rapid & Blitz Champion?

The thrilling STL Rapid & Blitz is beginning again at the Saint Louis Chess Club this weekend. Let’s take a look at the competitors.

My Top 3 Picks:

2016 World Blitz Champion

Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin at the 2017 STL Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Spectrum Studios

Rapid
World Ranking

8

Rating

2793

Blitz
World Ranking

3

Rating

2898

Sergey Karjakin is capable of stunning blitz and rapid performances. He was the 2016 World Blitz Champion and the runner-up to Carlsen in 2017. He was also the 2012 World Rapid Champion.

At last year’s STL Rapid & Blitz, although Karjakin had a shaky start in the rapid segment, he achieved the highest score in the blitz portion. During Day 1 of the blitz, he scored an unbelievable 8 points out of 9. His amazing comeback ultimately earned him a tie for 2nd overall. This year, with a slightly better performance in the rapid games, Karjakin is a definite candidate to win the event.

Defending Champion

Levon Aronian

“There are not enough wins to give as a present to the person I love.” -Levon Aronian after winning the 2017 STL Rapid & Blitz shortly before his wedding. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

6

Rating

2806

Blitz
World Ranking

5

Rating

2871

Levon Aronian won last year’s STL Rapid & Blitz convincingly with 2 rounds to spare, finishing 3 points ahead of his closest competitors.

In addition, he won the World Blitz Championship in 2010 and the World Rapid Championship in 2009.

World Blitz #2

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura tied for 2nd at last year’s STL Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

4

Rating

2824

Blitz
World Ranking

2

Rating

2913

Hikaru Nakamura won clear 1st at this year’s Paris Grand Chess Tour Blitz & Rapid, edging out Sergey Karjakin in the final day of the blitz segment to win.

In addition, Nakamura also achieved a recent record-breaking Chess.com Speed Chess match victory over Hou Yifan, scoring 27.5 points to her 2.5 and going 10-0 in the 3 minute time control.


The remaining competitors by average rapid & blitz ranking:

 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave after winning the 2017 Sinquefield Cup. Photo: Austin Fuller

Rapid
World Ranking

7

Rating

2798

Blitz
World Ranking

4

Rating

2878

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is often a top contender in rapid and blitz events. He tied for 2nd (along with Sergey Karjakin) at Your Next Move GCT. He finished 2nd at the 2017 Paris Grand Chess Tour and 3rd at the 2017 Your Next Move GCT.

Recently, he defeated fellow competitor, Leiner Dominguez, cleanly in their Chess.com Speed Chess match, scoring 19 to 12. He definitely has excellent chances to be in the running for 1st this tournament.

Wesley So

Wesley So at Paris Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

2

Rating

2852

Blitz
World Ranking

12

Rating

2800

Wesley So is the current leader of the Grand Chess Tour, and he won clear 1st at Your Next Move GCT. He also decisively defeated prodigy Wei Yi in their recent Chess.com Speed Chess match.

Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand at the 2017 STL Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Austin Fuller

Rapid
World Ranking

13

Rating

2758

Blitz
World Ranking

9

Rating

2812

Viswanathan Anand is the reigning World Rapid Champion. He also dominated the Grenkeleasing World Rapid Championship, winning 1st eleven different years in 1997, 1998, and 2000-2008.

Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk at Paris Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

20

Rating

2751

Blitz
World Ranking

8

Rating

2831

Is it surprising or expected that Alexander Grischuk, known for his consistent time trouble in classical chess, is an excellent blitz player? On the one hand, you wouldn’t think of time management as his specialty. On the other hand, he certainly gets a lot of practice in time scrambles.

Either way, he is a three-time World Blitz Champion, winning in 2006, 2012, and 2015, and the 2016 World Rapid runner-up, making him a force to be reckoned with.

.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at Paris Grand Chess Tour. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

16

Rating

2754

Blitz
World Ranking

13

Rating

2795

While Shakhriyar Mamedyarov hasn’t had the best Grand Chess Tour so far, he did recently win clear 1st at Biel Chess, defeating Carlsen to clinch the tournament with a round to spare. In addition, he won the World Rapid Championship in 2013.

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana at the 2017 STL Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

26

Rating

2738

Blitz
World Ranking

36

Rating

2709

While Fabiano Caruana isn’t known for his rapid and blitz skills, I would never count such an incredible player (and the current World Championship Challenger) out of the running.

Leinier Dominguez

Leinier Dominguez at the 2017 STL Rapid & Blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes

Rapid
World Ranking

3

Rating

2826

Blitz
World Ranking

59

Rating

2687

Although Leinier Dominguez’s blitz rating took a bit of a dive after losing his 2017 Champions Showdown match to Wesley So, he has been one of the top bliz players in the world previously, reaching as high as 2796. He was also the 2008 World Blitz Champion.

Watch live games and commentary, starting Saturday, August 11, with rounds beginning at 1 P.M. Central everyday through Wednesday, August 15. For more information, visit the Official Website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

Comments

  1. Nakamura’s rapid and blitz ratings may have been higher at this time if he had competed in the 2017 world championships. Lest we forget, Naka bravely chose not to participate when Saudi Arabia refused to issue visas to some players (based on nationality alone).

  2. There’s nothing brave about refusing to play in a country where the average player never gets the chance to play with a super GM.

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