2017 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz - Day 5 Print
Monday, 21 August 2017 08:01

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Recap - Day 5

by Tatev Abrahamyan

The fourth leg of the Grand Chess Tour wrapped up in Saint Louis with Levon Aronian dominating the field. He won the tournament with two rounds to spare and three points ahead of his closest rivals, Sergey Karjakin and Hikaru Nakamura. He collected $37,500 and 13 GCT points and is now in third place overall in the tour standings. The rapid and blitz portion of the tour are officially over and the last stop will be in London in December where the winner of the entire tour will be determined.

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The gracious winner always happy to sign autographs

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian started the day off slowly by drawing Hikaru Nakamura quickly and then losing to David Navara in the very next game. This allowed Sergey Karjakin to close the gap to one point, making the race tighter. However, Aronian had a strong showing for the rest of the day, winning four games and drawing three. His closest competitors were not able to keep up with his powerful play. In the postgame interview, while reflecting on Karjakin’s 8/9 performance yesterday, he joked that he knew that eventually luck would favor him and he would win the event. As he explained, luck in chess means that sometimes chess players take risks and end up in losing positions and luck is whatever happens in those positions. He was referring to his game against Quang Liem Le today in particular, as his opponent flagged in a much better position. Of course, it was his superb play and creativity that allowed him to win this prestigious event.

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Levon Aronian is all smiles after an exhausting event

Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin had one of the most phenomenal results yesterday by scoring 8/9. Had he been able to show the same result today, the tournament would have been his. He started the day by defeating none other than Garry Kasparov and then Leinier Dominguez. However, repeating his result from yesterday was almost an impossible task and he too lost to David Navara then later on to Hikaru Nakamura, with whom he shared second and third places with.

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura was the one chasing Aronian by two points before the start of the day but was not able to keep pace with the eventual champion. After their quick draw, Nakamura went on to lose three games in the next four rounds. He did recover by scoring 3.5/4, including a win over his compatriot Fabiano Caruana, but this was only enough for a tie for second place with Sergey Karjakin.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi started and ended the day in fourth place. His notable wins were against Dominguez and Caruana, while he drew Kasparov and Karjakin.

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Aronian, Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi found a hiding spot between the rounds

Fabiano Caruana, Leinier Dominguez, Quang Liem Le

Fabiano Caruana had a horrendous day by scoring 2/9. He beat Viswanathan Anand and David Navara and lost the rest of his games. He tied for fifth place with Leinier Dominguez, who scored 4.5/9. Dominguez beat the two Americans, Caruana and Nakamura, as well as Anand. Quang Liem Le had a good start with wins over Caruana and Nakamura, but his three draws in the middle of the tournament and the two losses in the last two rounds only allowed him to finish tied with Caruana and Dominguez.

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov lost his first game to Karjakin but scored 5.5 points in the remaining of the games. He defeated Dominguez, Nakamura and Caruana and drew the rest of the field, finishing in 8th place. Unfortunately, this is the last tournament he intended to play as he expressed no interest in playing any other events in the future.

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The chess world will miss watching these two gladiators battle it out

Viswanathan Anand

The other legendary player of the tournament, Viswanathan Anand, finished in 9th place after only scoring 3.5 points today. His only win was against Nepomniachtchi.

David Navara

David Navara finished in last place but he did have a big effect on the standings as he defeated both Aronian and Karjakin.

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Day5 6


Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Recap - Day 4

by Tatev Abrahamyan

After day one of the blitz, Levon Aronian extended his lead to two points over his closest rival, Hikaru Nakamura. Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura entered the day tied for second place only a point behind Aronian, but Nakamura had a more solid day; whereas Caruana had more decisive results, but also too many losses. It is worthy to remember that in the Paris leg of the tour, Magnus Carlsen also had a two point lead but Vachier-Lagrave actually leapfrogged him in round eight of day two. Although a two point lead is significant, the tournament is far from over as there are still nine more games to go.

Day4 1

The playing hall is always crowded

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian started his day excellently by slowly extending his lead first to 1.5 points then to 2.5 points by round seven after defeating Garry Kasparov. He had an extremely strong showing in the middle of the tournament by winning three games in a row only to stumble in round eight against Fabiano Caruana. He quickly recovered in the last round by defeating Leinier Dominguez and maintaining his lead.

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Levon Aronian always makes a fashion statement

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura had a similar result to Aronian’s with only one loss against Sergey Karjakin but he had too many draws. In the middle of the tournament, he made four draws in a row, including against Anand and Kasparov. As one of the fastest players on the planet, he still has every chance to catch the leader, especially since the two will meet in the first round tomorrow. Nakamura will have the black pieces.

Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin had an incredible day by scoring a phenomenal 8/9. The current World Blitz Champion completely annihilated the field by giving away only two draws against Garry Kasparov and Levon Aronian. The rapid portion was not kind to him, but this remarkable result allowed him to climb up in the standings to the number three spot, only half a point behind Nakamura.

  Day4 3

The World Blitz Champion ruled the day

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi had the fourth best result today with 5/8. He started the day in fourth place, only two points behind Aronian and ended the day in the same spot. He is now 3.5 points behind the leader.

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana entered the day only a point behind Aronian and tied for second with Nakamura but now finds himself in the number five spot. Even so, two of his wins were against Kasparov and Aronian. He will have the white pieces against Aronian tomorrow and might be able to spoil the Armenian’s tournament.

Quang Liem Le and Leinier Dominguez

Quang Liem Le and Leinier Dominguez are tied for sixth and seventh places. The Vietnamese superstar got revenge for his embarrassing blunder against Kasparov by defeating him in a fine game. His only other win was against Caruana. Dominguez, who was quite solid in the rapid, suffered five losses today and dropped by one spot in the standings.

Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand

The two legendary players, Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand, find themselves on the bottom of the standings, tied for eighth and ninth places. Just as in the rapid, Garry Kasparov scored only one win, this time against Leinier Dominguez. On the other hand, Viswanathan Anand scored no wins. He lost three games and drew six.

Day4 2

Garry Kasparov is definitely the most expressive player

David Navara

David Navara stayed in the last place after a tumultuous day. He lost four games in a row and scored only one victory against Le. Even so, he is one of the most approachable and humble players, always happy to give interviews and talk to anyone even after having a bad day.

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In the rapid each win is 2 points, a draw is 1 and a loss is 0. In blitz each win is 1 point, a draw is ½ and a loss is 0.


2017 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Day 3 Recap

Levon Aronian emerged as the winner of the rapid portion of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. He is being closely chased by Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, who are only a point behind him. Ian Nepomniachtchi, who entered day three tied with Aronian, lost his last round game to Hikaru Nakamura and is two points behind the leader. There are still eighteen games of blitz to be played over the next two days, so anything can happen! All eyes, as usual, will be on Garry Kasparov as the chess world awaits to see his tactical skills in even shorter time controls.

Day3 5
Youngsters playing quick games between rounds outside of the chess club

Round 7

The round started positively for Garry Kasparov who played aggressively against David Navara, achieving a winning position. In the postgame interview, Navara revealed that he never once thought about resigning and his resilience paid off as Kasparov blundered a tactic and lost in the endgame. Levon Aronian took the lead in this round by defeating Sergey Karjakin in a fine game where he slowly built up his attack, which left him with a decisive material advantage. His closest rival, Ian Nepomniachtchi, only drew his game against Fabiano Caruana by sacrificing a piece to force a perpetual. Quang Liem Le versus Viswanathan Anand and Hikaru Nakamura versus Leinier Dominguez were solid draws.

Day3 1
David Navara survived the storm

Round 8

Finally, Garry Kasparov got his lucky break when his opponent, Quang Liem Le, inexplicably blundered a rook in an equal position and resigned. David Navara was not able to keep the momentum from his earlier win and he sacrificed two pawns against Leinier Dominguez to build an attack; the defensive resources of his opponent were enough to stop the initiative and score the full point. Ian Nepomniachtchi made another draw with a threefold repetition, this time against his countryman, Sergey Karjakin. Levon Aronian was unable to extend his lead as his slight advantage against Hikaru Nakamura was not enough. The two drew after most of the pieces came off the board. Viswanathan Anand and Fabiano Caruana drew their solid game as soon as they reached the required move 30.

Day3 3
Fans wait to see chess legend Garry Kasparov's tactical skills in even shorter time controls

Round 9

This was the bloodiest round of the entire event with all decisive games! Garry Kasparov was on the losing side against Fabiano Caruana when he played too passively at the critical points and allowed his opponent's passed pawns to become too dangerous. Sergey Karjakin scored his first win of the event by punishing Viswanathan Anand for his only mistake. Quang Liem Le was on the winning side of the endgame, but as his opponent David Navara pointed out, in a rapid everyone makes mistakes. Le's mistake was costly as he found his opponent's passed pawns march down the board. Ian Nepomniachtchi suffered his first loss of the tournament after he misplayed the drawn endgame and lost both of his pawns. Levon Aronian took the lead by defeating Leinier Dominguez also in a rook endgame where his technique was flawless.

Day3 2
The leader is all smiles in the postgame interview

Day3 4
In the rapid rounds, each win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a loss is 0

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2017 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Day 2 Recap

The eventful second day of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz finally produced a sole leader. Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, who is the only player so far to have defeated Garry Kasparov, is leading the tournament with 8/12. Nepomniachtchi is being closely followed by a pack of players who are only a point behind. Fabiano Caruana, Quang Liem Le, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura all have 7/12. Tomorrow the rapid portion of the event will conclude and the event still remains wide open for anyone to take it as there are still three rounds left.

Day2 3
The playing hall

Round 4

The day started off quite peacefully with three draws. David Navara, who only managed to make one draw yesterday, recovered by defeating Sergey Karjakin. The only other decisive result came from Leinier Dominguez over Quang Liem Le, who was one of the co-leaders. Garry Kasparov had an advantage with the black pieces against Levon Aronian but his poor time management played a key role as he blundered in the endgame allowing his opponent to force a draw. Fabiano Caruana was close to defeating his compatriot Hikaru Nakamura, but with seconds left on his clock he played the second move of his variation instead of his initial idea and drew the game. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Viswanathan Anand played a lengthy but uneventful game.

Day2 1
One of the wildcards of the event, Leinier Dominguez, with his second

Round 5

This was the bloodiest round of the day with only one draw. All eyes were once again on Garry Kasparov's game, who had the white pieces and the initiative. After getting slowly outplayed, trouble came when he blundered a tactical shot and was forced to accept defeat in the hands of Ian Nepomniachtchi. Fabiano Caruana received a lucky break when Leinier Dominguez completely misplayed a rook endgame with an extra pawn. Liem Quang Le and Levon Aronian entered a complicated battle where the tactics worked out better for the former. Viswanathan Anand played yet another long game which proved to be fruitful against David Navara. The only peaceful result was between Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin.

Day2 2
The hero of the day, Ian Nepomniachtchi

Round 6

The last round of the day only produced two decisive results but it did include the meeting of the two giants: Viswanathan Anand and Garry Kasparov. In the critical moment, Kasparov found the tactical way of resolving his problems and the game quickly ended in a draw. David Navara and Hikaru Nakamura played a very interesting game where the latter had four pawns for a piece in the endgame. The mishandling of the position by Navara allowed his opponent's pawns to become too dangerous, which overwhelmed his position. Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana's game was the most tumultuous affair as the evaluation of the position kept changing. The Armenian grandmaster eventually came out on top when his passed pawn became unstoppable. Leinier Dominguez missed an opportunity when he overlooked a piece sacrifice against Sergey Karjakin which would have given him a decisive advantage. Ian Nepomniachthci drew Quang Liem Le and took the lead of the tournament.

Day2 1
Viswanathan Anand and Garry Kasparov in different moods before the game

Day2 4

In the rapid rounds, each win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a loss is 0

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2017 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Day 1 Recap

The highly anticipated Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz kicked off today and marked the return of chess legend Garry Kasparov. Chess fans gathered at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis early to once again watch the legendary World Champion at the chess board. Even though Kasparov drew all his games, the intensity could be felt throughout the room and it was quite the show for all audiences. At the end of day one, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Le Quang Liem are tied for first place.

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Unsurprisingly, everyone's attention was on Kasparov's game

Round 1

Even though all eyes were on Kasparov's game, Levon Aronian's brilliancy did not go unnoticed. He completely demolished newcomer David Navara by first sacrificing a piece, then a rook and checkmating him on move 31. Hikaru Nakamura had a better position from the opening against Viswanathan Anand and sealed the deal after the former World Champion blundered. Fabiano Caruana experienced the first heartbreak of the day when in a completely winning position where he had a queen for a rook, he made a sloppy blunder and found himself in a mating net. Garry Kasparov had the edge against Sergey Karjakin but his rustiness showed when he played too positionally instead of dynamically and allowed his opponent to equalize. Ian Nepomniachtchi drew Leinier Dominguez in a lengthy and balanced game.

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Levon Aronian's game delighted the fans

Round 2

Unlike in the previous round, Garry Kasparov found himself in a completely lost position in the endgame against Hikaru Nakamura. The American, who definitely had something to prove, failed to convert in the time scramble and had to settle for a draw. Fabiano Caruana recovered from his first round accident and simply outplayed David Navara and won without any problems. Sergey Karjakin won a pawn against Le Quang Liem and converted in a long game. Levon Aronian repeated the same sharp opening he tried against Ian Nepomniachtchi in the Sinquefield Cup but played a little too creatively and lost after, quite ironically, he failed to find a creative defense. Leinier Dominguez had a difficult position against Viswanathan Anand but survived the storm and took home the half a point.

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Fabiano Caruana did not waste time recovering

Round 3

Garry Kasparov's game against Leinier Dominguez was quite uneventful as the two exchanged most of the pieces and agreed to a draw. The other draw of the round between Ian Nepomniachtchi and David Navara was quite strange. Navara chose a dubious opening and instead of trying to punish his opponent's uncastled king, Nepomniachtchi allowed a threefold repetition. Fabiano Caruana continued his powerful play by defeating Sergey Karjakin with an attack on the kingside. Viswanathan Anand could not recover his poor form as he fell for Levon Aronian's tactical trick in a completely winning position. The marathon game was between Le Quang Liem and Hikaru Nakamura where the Vietnamese player first missed a winning continuation and continued on into a bishop endgame. He went on to sacrifice the bishop in order to promote his passed pawns and was able to do so when Nakamura failed to find the only drawing continuation.

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