The second day of rapid started off slow with ten straight draws, before an explosive final round left GM Ray Robson at the top of the standings after an important win over GM Alireza Firouzja. Heading into the final day of rapid, Robson leads with 8.0/12, while GMs Maxime Vachier Lagrave, Anish Giri, and Le Quang Liem trail closely behind with 7.0/12.
RAPID | ROUNDS 4-6
While the results didn’t show it at first, the day had plenty of drama as all five games in rounds four and five were drawn, though with several players missing opportunities: Caruana failed to win with an extra exchange against So, MVL botched a winning knight endgame against Nepomniachtchi, and Giri blundered into a draw in a queen endgame with two extra pawns against Liem. But perhaps the biggest miss came from Firouzja, who sacrificed his queen for two pieces in highly creative fashion against So, only to squander a decisive advantage later on.
Firouzja-So: 17.Qxf5!? led to wild complications after 17...gxf5 18.Nh6+, with White getting two pieces and tons of compensation for the queen.
A near-brilliancy for Firouzja, who remains in second after the day. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
The final round of the day was by far the most decisive, with Caruana defeating the leader, Liem, after turning around a much worse position as Black.
Liem-Caruana: After 37…Nc4! White's position came under serious pressure, as Liem soon started to go wrong.
Caruana has struggled so far but notched a key win over Liem in the sixth round. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
The win by Caruana allowed Robson to overtake the lead with a fantastic victory over Firouzja, as Robson built up an irresistible kingside attack before winning an endgame with a queen vs. three pieces:
Robson-Firouzja: After 28.Be6, Black's king was quickly done for on the g-file.
Robson won an excellent attacking game to seize the lead. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
Also winning to tie for second at the end of the day were Giri, who shockingly won on time against Sevian in a drawn rook vs. bishop endgame (with the bishop!), and MVL, who unleashed a classic Sicilian exchange sacrifice before converting a nice endgame against So:
So-MVL: 18...Rxc3! gave Black enormous compensation for the exchange after 19.Bxc3 Bg5.
An insanely lucky break for Giri, who had his own misfortune the round before. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
The 2023 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz continues on November 16th, starting at 1:00 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Peter Svidler, and Tania Sachdev on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.
Written by IM Kostya Kavutskiy
Photos: Lennart Ootes and Crystal Fuller
Official website: grandchesstour.org/2023-grand-chess-tour/2023-saint-louis-rapid-blitz