Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz: Closing Ceremony and Ultimate Moves

by ChessBase
8/19/2017 – The live action continued Saturday featuring the now-traditional trash-talk filled blitz bonanza known as Ultimate Moves. "Team Rex" squeaked out the victory after a 3/3 tie sparked an wild impromptu tiebreak game (not planned in advance), which was unceremoniously concluded by an illegal move made by Randy Sinquefield!

Chess News

Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz

Closing Ceremony

Streamed live from the World Chess Hall of Fame

Ultimate Moves blitz

Games and Commentary


Live spectacle from 22:00 CEST


  • Best of 6 games
  • The match will be declared a tie if it ends 3/3
  • There is only one game per round
  • Game 1 will start with 5 moves being played by Rex and Randy Sinquefield and then each player in the team roster plays 5 consecutive moves before giving way to one of their teammates
  • Once the two amateurs at the bottom of the roster (Rachael Li and John Urshel) have played their 5 moves the rotation is reset and starts from the top again
  • The rate of play for all 6 games will be Game in 5 minutes plus 5 seconds increment per move from move 1
  • The match starts at 15.00 local time in St Louis and the games will start at 20 minute intervals 


The teams were chosen yesterday and will consist of the following players (order of play not determined):

Team Randy  Team Rex
Randy Sinquefield Rex Sinquefield
Fabiano Caruana Levon Aronian
Garry Kasparov Hikaru Nakamura
Vishy Anand Sergey Karjakin
David Navara Ian Nepomniachtchi
Liem Le Lenier Dominguez
Rachael Li (7 year old sister of GM Ruifeng Li) John Urschel (former NFL football player)

Games and commentary


Commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, GM Maurice Ashley, and WGM Jennifer Shahade


Final blitz standings (not including rapid)


Combined standings (including rapid)

DATES August 13-19, 2017
LOCATION Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
FORMAT 10-Player Round Robin
PRIZE FUND $150,000


Monday, August 14 1:00 PM Rapid | Rounds 1 - 3
Tuesday, August 15 1:00 PM Rapid | Rounds 4 - 6
Wednesday, August 16 1:00 PM Rapid | Rounds 7 - 9
Thursday, August 17 1:00 PM Blitz | Rounds 1 - 9
Friday, August 18 1:00 PM Blitz | Rounds 10 - 18
Saturday, August 19 11: 00 AM Playoff (if necessary)
  3:00 PM Ultimate Moves


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turok turok 8/14/2017 09:09
so the player who played in the world championship takes a draw from kasparov and aging former world champion. yes I know I will hear how good he still is etc but the tournament right now will show what I have been saying about overrated players etc. Lets see how it all plays out. Should be fun.
dumkof dumkof 8/14/2017 11:27
Turok, there is no "overrated" player at this high level. Their ratings are well cooked, after hundreds/thousands of rated games.

There is no "rating inflation" either. The top 100 players of today are simply much stronger than those of 20-30 years ago.
drcloak drcloak 8/15/2017 12:03
@dumkof Ratings are super inflated. In 25 years when you have players that are over 3000 rating, you can keep telling yourself there is no inflation.
leonin leonin 8/15/2017 12:33

Also the discrepancy between the top ones and the average might be much bigger (because of extensive use of computer analysis and preparation).
Thesandman Thesandman 8/15/2017 12:36
The top 50 players of today are much much stronger than 20, 30 or 40 years ago. There is much more competition now. All players have access to millions of games, kids have access to world class trainers, and databases. In addition, engines have made openings almost irrelevant at the highest levels
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 01:13
@ ChessBase : I am quite surprised to see that, today, you use the "classical" (and meaningless, for such events) ratings ; for the last Rapid and Blitz tournaments, you used the appropriated Rapid and Blitz ratings, and this gave very interesting results... For example, I would be extremely interested to know Kasparov's performance in this tournament (...and, for the moment, I haven't time to calculate it myself...) ; Kasparov's performance calculated with the "classical" ratings hasn't any meaning whatsoever...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 01:24
@ turok : Knowing Kasparov's intense will to win, he has certainly prepared very seriously for this event, so he is quite simply, in fact, a top-player playing against other top-players... nothing extraordinary about it...

What is for the moment quite interesting to follow, in my opinion, is that he seems to fare better than Anand, who hasn't retired, and who is 6 years younger than Kasparov. If this trend continues, it would be quite significant (and, as for me, a little surprising, in a way), because, yes, Anand was certainly a little weaker than Kasparov, but not very much, and to see a retired and "old" Kasparov beat a still completely active and "less old" Anand is a little strange ; is it that the years haven't the same effect on Kasparov that on "normal people" ???
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 01:29
@ turok : What I meant in the first paragraph of my last comment to you is that Kasparov isn't a player of the past playing today, but - as he certainly prepared quite specifically for this tournament - he is also completely a player of today. The only surprising thing is that age doesn't really seems to have significant effects on him (cf. his results compared to Anand's results...).
turok turok 8/15/2017 01:30
dumkof your name says it all sorry
turok turok 8/15/2017 01:44
@ Petrarlsen I do agree with you that he is a plyer of today which for what that means to me is the COMPUTER AGE where players have had the use of computers which has allowed them to have a huge advantage for preparation compared to the days of the past Pre-Computer. However he is still way older and if these young bucks with these oh so inflated ratings cannot take him out that just shows IMO that these guys are only as good as their computers. I have never seen kasparov as the best ever because he had the days of the computer. One thing I prove my declaration of overrated or inflated is take Fischer: His highest rating nearly got him to 2800 and that was without!!!!!!!!! a dang computer. So this tells me just common sense wise that if he had computers back then heck hed have hit 2900+ near 3000. he is ONLY 1 example. So the theory of players now being better than the past is insane.
jonkm jonkm 8/15/2017 01:48
I don't think that players having "access to millions of games" makes them stronger. Computers have helped to uncover some new opening and middlegame ideas. I actually don't think humans are any stronger now than 30 or 60 years ago. Their talent is the same, but, the fact that there are more players in the pool means their are more high-rated players.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 02:12
@ turok : What you say doesn't explain why Kasparov, who was a little better than Anand before he retired, still seems to be (...we will see in the rest of this tournament...) a little better than Anand now, Anand being still completely active, quite high in rating (in "classical" rating, he didn't lost much points since his peak), and significantly younger than Kasparov.

My theory is that, rather surprisingly, in fact, Kasparov didn't lost much in level from before to after his retirement period... this seems to me a much more coherent explanation than to say that "the young players are not good at all" ; Anand isn't at all a young player, and played many, many games against Kasparov, and Kasparov still seems to fare better than him...

As for the comparison with Fischer, I am no mathematician, but, from all that I read on the subject, ratings can only be used to compare players from the same period, so it isn't really possible to use them to compare Fischer to modern-day players...
mburch1974 mburch1974 8/15/2017 02:16
I want to see a Kasparov Carlsen match
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 02:25
@ jonkm : "I don't think that players having "access to millions of games" makes them stronger. Computers have helped to uncover some new opening and middlegame ideas." I think it all depends on what you call "becoming stronger". To memorize new opening and middlegame ideas, for practical purposes, means to be "stronger". Obviously, not : "more intelligent", but, in front of a chessboard, practically stronger.

"Their talent is the same" : Yes, but with the same talent, if you exploit new ideas, you will be practically stronger... Capablanca (with the opening knowledge that he had at the time) would have a very hard time in the opening against Kramnik, simply because Kramnik would use all the present-days computer lines that he memorized (and invented, with computer help), not because Kramnik's talent is greater than Capablanca's talent on the board.

For me, it is quite simple : with exactly the same talent, a younger player will always be stronger than an older player (perhaps a little, perhaps more than that, depending in particular on the distance in time between the two players), because he has access to a knowledge that didn't exist at the time of the older player.
turok turok 8/15/2017 06:33
@ Petrarlsen per fischer-I am not saying about comparing rating systems what I am saying is it is common sense that if he was that strong pre computers imagine with that nowadays that is all. I do not think it takes a bunch of calulation of any sort to do it. As per kasparov. You are comparing him to an older player. My point is NOT that the younger players are not strong. of course they are but IMO the ratings being so high are inflated that is all. These so called super GMs just always play each other basically swapping pints back and forth. if they constantly played in bigger tourneys with 2400 thru 2600 type players they would lose more thus lose more points or at worst draw many more games to lower rated players which in hand would stabalize the inflated scores. But when the top players never face lowers that means they never lose big points. Look at what happens when former WGM plays vs them she gets wins and draws and she is under 2700. if that happened on a more consistent basis she would get more points from them thus their rating goes down.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/15/2017 08:02
@ turok : "if he was that strong pre computers imagine with that nowadays". Yes, obviously, Fischer would be even stronger, practically speaking, with computers, nowadays.

As for the 2700+ players, I've already answered to you with much details elsewhere (for example, there :

For example, the last Gibraltar open show the exact opposite : the 2700+ GM obtain, collectively, quite the expected results against the MI, 2500+ GM, and 2600+ GM.

As for Hou Yifan, the answer seems to me to be simple : she is now very close from 2700, and she is very probably on her way to become very quickly herself a 2700+ GM. It's as simple as that ! And, if you take, for example, the Biel tournament that Hou Yifan won, her best opponents, Navara and Harikirishna, where only 71 points above her ; it isn't uncommon at all, for a "quickly ascending player", to win a tournament against players rated less thant 75 points above himself or herself. It isn't at all as if a 2600 GM won a tournament in front of a 2800 GM !
thirteen thirteen 8/15/2017 09:41
@jonkm I DO think that having access to millions of games makes players, of all ratings, very much stronger - and in so many ways too. Opening knowledge, middle-games strategies and tactics, endgame abilities both general and specific, all benefit very greatly from a serious approach to the looking at and study of them. They are both entertaining and progressively improving by every nature of them. Talent is an entirely separate issue of emotions and form that varies with age and not least, dozens of other early-life associations and later daily input impacts. I might almost say that the 'necessity' of this sort of 'schooling' cannot be underestimated within every practical chess players life-time! Indeed I once heard it said that 'one life-time' isn't enough for the viewing of the games of this lovely board game of ours. Just my own opinion.
leonin leonin 8/15/2017 11:01

Of course, Fischer with a computer might be stronger than, for example, Carlsen, but the fact is he didn't have one. And it seems quite obvious to me that someone like Carlsen benefits from computers and databases relatively more than an average club player - hence the "inflation".
dumkof dumkof 8/15/2017 01:04
@ Leonin, thanks for your first reply.

@ Turok, don't insult anyone here! You still insist on the "overrated" thing. There is nothing like "rating inflation". if a 2600 player beats the 2800 player, this doesn't mean that the 2800 player is overrated. These 2800 players have all passed through the weaker amateur pools, 2400, 2600 pools etc, and their ratings are well deserved. Believe in numbers and the Elo system a bit! It's not a perfect system but there hasn't been a better one.
Your arguments (on "overrated players and inflation" and comparing players of different eras etc.) are all speculative things and far from objectivity.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 8/15/2017 05:03
The talk about Kasparov being better than anand after just 3 rounds is premature. More data points are needed (regardless of what the next rounds show).

About the rating inflation question - it is known that ratings increase when more players are in the pool, independent of computers. What does that mean - is it because more "exchange of knowledge" based on more players causes their chess understanding and play to improve? Or is it "inflation" in that the ability is not more, but the ratings increase? Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Also, what happens in a closed pool if chess computers are suddenly available for the first time? For a player to gain points, someone else must lose points, so it seems that the ratings of this group (compared to a mirror image group without computers), would not reflect their increased chess ability, which would be demonstrated if the 2 groups then mixed and played each other?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/16/2017 01:06
@ fgkdjlkag : "The talk about Kasparov being better than anand after just 3 rounds is premature." Drawing final conclusions on this theme would be quite obviously completely premature, but not discussing it. It at least seems obvious, for the moment, that Anand isn't clearly better that Kasparov in rapid games ; we will see in the next days what will happen between these two players... As for me, I find this theme quite interesting, and I follow closely the comparative progression of these two players in this tournament.
Masquer Masquer 8/16/2017 01:17
@dumkof, why do you insist there is no ratings inflation, when it's obvious there is such. Just look at players who have "maintained" a high rating thru many decades: Korchnoi, Nunn and others like them, despite an obvious decline in playing ability.
J Nayer J Nayer 8/16/2017 01:18
The riddle concerning rating inflation is simple: no evidence and no rational explanation exists. Rating inflation means that, for some reason, a current rating means less than a historical one. Which reason? Rating inflation assumes that it is possible to reliably compare between current and historical ratings. How? Arpad Elo did not believe it was possible. Not even Sonas claims this.

That the number of players with very high ratings has increased over time is not proof. It is only stating what needs to be explained. The view that ratings of very high rated players are inflated because they only play one another is both empirically incorrect and tautological.

The much better argument is that ratings have improved because skill has increased. It would be extremely bizarre if increasing skill does not correlate with more opportunities, more players, more and better educational treatises, teachers, computers, databases and the like. All the rest is paranoid hogwash about an elite that divides precious rating points among itself.

A simple computer-based method, similar to Bratko’s, would disprove this stupid thesis once and for all. We use, say, the 3 strongest chess programs. We select a representative sample of elite historical and current chess games. We use the difference of position values resulting from played moves and moves chosen by each of the programs. We compare the average numbers of errors and attach a weight factor. We exclude opening moves. The test would show that contemporary super grandmasters are stronger than any of their illustrious predecessors. Such test would indeed not only measure for strength, but also for how computer-like moves are. The fact that current programs play at a level of 3.300 elo or so makes this argument more or less nonsensical. Surely, if Carlsen or Kramnik cannot pull it off, neither would Capablanca. Or are these computer ratings also “inflated”?

What anyone believes or disbelieves or thinks or feels is uninteresting. Provide a logical explanation and, if possible, proof. In the meantime, stop ranting.
koko48 koko48 8/16/2017 01:33
For us Kings Indian players - and those who appreciate the opening - that was an excellent and quite vigorous KID played by Nakamura vs Navara Round 6

The final move was of course 71...Ke3 (not ...Ke5)
badibadibadi badibadibadi 8/16/2017 02:49
Kasparov should come back to classical chess not rapid and blitz. Anand did great in classical and it is the other way around in rapid
Kenneth Thomas Kenneth Thomas 8/16/2017 03:51
Fischer is not so long ago. With a year to master computers, new opening ideas, and the other developments in chess theory, I think he would still be #1. Do not forget that he outrated #2 Spassky by 125 points when they played for the championship (2785 to 2660). No one since Fischer has led the pack by that much. It is hard to gain rating points when no one is rated anywhere near you. Today there are more than 40 2700 players, so far more points for a dominant player to take from not-quite-as-elite players.

A good contrast can be seen by looking at the National Scrabble Association/North American Scrabble Players Association rating list. In 1990, the top rating was Robert Felt's 2151 after he won the national championship ( Today, the top rating in the NASPA rating list (taken over from NSA) is David Gibson's 2157 ( As you can see from the list, there aren't even 40 players today rated over 2000. After 27 years, there was essentially no change at the top rating point. That is because, unlike chess, it has not had a flood of new players who have made higher ratings mathematically possible.

Consider: According to, it took Karpov 22 years to surpass Fischer's peak rating -- in 1994, 9 years after he had lost the World Championship. I think it is clear that even in that period points were not so easy to come by. And I think he was a better player in 1985 than 1994.

So put me in the camp believes that ratings inflation is real, based on the facts that there are many more good players than in Fischer's time and that they are much closer in rating to the #1 player than in Fischer's era.
cythlord cythlord 8/16/2017 05:19
What about adjournments? 24 hours (or more) of heavy analysis sessions with teams of GMs during a position of a game certainly makes a player much stronger. It's as if a player could suddenly consult a computer in the middle of a game. I don't see why having access to computers, databases etc is advantageous to the adjournment advantage in terms of accurate play. I don't think defense has particularly improved since 30 years, it's simply the fact that the adjournment was banished.
RayLopez RayLopez 8/16/2017 07:45
@fgkdjlkag 8/15/2017 05:03: "about the rating inflation question - it is known that ratings increase when more players are in the pool, independent of computers. What does that mean - is it because more "exchange of knowledge" based on more players causes their chess understanding and play to improve? Or is it "inflation" in that the ability is not more, but the ratings increase? Does anyone know the answer to this question? " Answer: it's the law of large numbers, just by chance it happens. You observe the same thing in a pile of sand (more sand, more outliers or sand a bigger distance from the center). It's simple statistics.

As for Karpov_1994 > Karpov_1984, could it well be Karpov played better in 1994?! You would have to run his games through Fritz with a strong computer, as CSci researchers have done in the past with masters, to see if the older Karpov played better than the younger Karpov. Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga recently, at nearly 50 yrs old, achieved his all-time high of 2699. It's a fact that today's players are simply better than yesterday's. For example, see all the blunders made by highly regarded masters at the Carlsbad 1911 chess tournament.
turok turok 8/16/2017 04:30
@Petrarlsen I can agree to disagree with you no issue there-here is why I say what I say: SUPER GM: This is a crock!!!!!! This is all my point leads to that back in the day when Fischer was highly rated with others we never called them Super GMs. These players 2700 and up are NOT Super GMs period. That is my entire point. This makes them sound like they are so far above any other GMs of time which is hiogwash. This is why I bring up kasparov who can still play with these so-called super GMs. A super GM to me players who are so good that nothing could stand in their way. That is NOT the case and 2600 GMs can not only draw with them but beat them. That is a fact. The ONLY issue is rarely do these highly rated players play vs lower 2600 or lower players in open turnaments like in the past this is why I talk about inflated ratings. So for me I loathe the Super GM term. There is no such thing as a super GM. A GM is a GM and the criteria for one is what it is and for authors to say this is just bull. I believe the issue is we hand out far to many GM titles. IMO. But it is what it is but just because we water down a GM title doesnt mean to solve it we call the higher rateds SUPER GM because they are NOT!!!!! In the end you are either a GM or you are not. Period.
thedarkdanster thedarkdanster 8/16/2017 05:54
In the Kasparov Nepo game Rd 5, is not

38 Rxh7 Kxh7
39 Qxg6+ Kh8
40 Qg8 ++ ???

What am I missing?

fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 8/16/2017 06:24
@ RayLopez, that does not explain anything. I am assuming by your comment that chess ratings follow a normal distribution. Take IQ testing. If you have more persons in a pool, there will be more outliers, including more high IQs. Is anyone going to say, well those high IQs are not really accurate? The greater number of people in the pool has caused IQ inflation? In chess it is different - players are playing against each other and this causes differences in rating. In most other phenomena, subjects are independent of each other. The question still remains - what does the higher number of high ratings mean?

"@fgkdjlkag 8/15/2017 05:03: "about the rating inflation question - it is known that ratings increase when more players are in the pool, independent of computers. What does that mean - is it because more "exchange of knowledge" based on more players causes their chess understanding and play to improve? Or is it "inflation" in that the ability is not more, but the ratings increase? Does anyone know the answer to this question? " Answer: it's the law of large numbers, just by chance it happens. You observe the same thing in a pile of sand (more sand, more outliers or sand a bigger distance from the center). It's simple statistics. "

@J Nayer - you seem to be contradicting yourself. You say: "The riddle concerning rating inflation is simple: no evidence and no rational explanation exists. Rating inflation means that, for some reason, a current rating means less than a historical one. "
Yet you have given a rational explanation: "The much better argument is that ratings have improved because skill has increased." If that is the case, then a current rating does not mean less than a historical one.

You mention"more and better educational treatises, teachers, computers, databases and the like." I re-pose the question I gave earlier: If there is a closed pool of players and suddenly educational treatises, computers, and databases are introduced to all players, what will happen? Will it be as @Kenneth Thomas described with scrabble, that there would be no change to the ratings?
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 8/16/2017 06:27
@darkdancer, black queen can take on g6 and black wins the endgame.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/16/2017 06:35
@ turok : Expressed like you did in your last post, I must say I in fact rather agree with you (if I really understood well your meaning, but I rather think so).

I already said it elsewhere, but I don't like either the term "Super-GM". Personally, I only use : "2500+ GMs", "2600+ GMs", "2700+ GMs", and "2800+ GMs", to distinguish GMs between themselves.

The point with which I don't really agree is that I think that a 2700+ GM is slightly better than a 2600+ GM, and that a 2800+ GM is slightly better than a 2700+ GM (in the same way as a 2600+ GM is slightly better than a 2500+ GM, or, for example, a 2500+ IM is slightly better than a 2400+ IM). And I think that practical results do show that there is really some differences between the different levels.

And, personally, I like to follow games from players of different level, all the way from 2300+ IMs to 2800+ GMs (I consider that, from the 2300+ IM level, a game's content is "good chess", and these different levels represents also, so to say, different "flavours" : for example, a game between two 2400+ GMs is quite different from a game between two 2800+ GMs, in my opinion, so, even if I follow slightly more top-level games, I also follow games from very different levels of play).
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/16/2017 06:40
@ fgkdjlkag : "If there is a closed pool of players and suddenly educational treatises, computers, and databases are introduced to all players, what will happen?" Very interesting question indeed...
thedarkdanster thedarkdanster 8/16/2017 07:08
@fgkdjlkag Thanks, I had a blind spot on the Queen on the G file.
Aighearach Aighearach 8/16/2017 08:23
People complaining about the word "super" should just find their own adjective and quit telling other people which words to use. Super isn't even an offensive word. Get over yourself. Any argument you make against my prerogatives is guaranteed to be incorrect and immoral. Talk about the best word for you to use, don't talk about the best word for somebody else to use; you already know they prefer "super-GM" so just accept the prerogatives of other beings.
AgainAgain AgainAgain 8/16/2017 09:39
Kasparov is last now... Where are those singing his praise at the beginning of the tournament? Players of each era are better than the ones in the previous one. Same as it works with cars, computers, athletes...
SambalOelek SambalOelek 8/16/2017 09:59
Yes fast cars , last generations

have you seen the world champion challenger Karjakin standing? not far of Kasparov right? this simple four days says nothing...
Kasparov is busy with many more things then these guys...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 8/17/2017 01:54
@ Aighearach : "(...) don't talk about the best word for somebody else to use (...)" (about the use of the term "Super-GM")

This isn't at all a logical argument ! In fact, I find this argument very surprising : it seems completely obvious that some terms are very good, some less good, some bad, and some very bad.

In fact, for example, if I was using the term "Infra-GMs" to qualify the 2700+ GMs, would you really still find that this would be a very bad idea to criticize any term chosen by anyone ??? Obviously, "Super-GM" isn't as bad a term as that, but it tends to create a "halo" of absolute superiority for 2700+ GMs that has absolutely no founding in facts : the difference between a 2700+ GM and a 2600+ GM is exactly the same as the difference between a 2600+ GM and a 2500+ GM, or also the difference between a 2800+ GM and a 2700+ GM.

So, in fact, it is completely arbitrary to call 2700+ GMs "Super-GMs". The term "Super-GM" could be quite equally used for 2600+ GMs of for 2800+ GM. This is the problem : why would it be a good thing to highlight so much 2700+ GMs ?? In fact, if you take as some sort of a reference the 100 points difference between the GM level (2500 points) and the IM level (2400 points), there are nowadays 3 successive steps above the "standard" GM level : 2600+ GMs, 2700+ GMs, and 2800+ GMs. And the use of the "Super-GM" term warps the reality of the "GM world", because it gives the impression that the "Super-GMs" are very different from the other GMs : this is not the case ; they are better, but they are certainly not "from another world" just by passing the 2700 points limit...

In fact, yes, everyone has the "right" to defend the use of the "Super-GM" term, but, also, everyone has the "right" to consider that to use this term isn't optimal, and to criticize with logical arguments the use of this term. Is it really such an offense to express an opinion ?? And, furthermore, an opinion justified by logical arguments ?? To defend this represents indeed really quite a surprising stance...
Leavenfish Leavenfish 8/17/2017 02:10
I actually think Kaspy will do better in the blitz part. Why? Because blitz is about intuition. Give someone more time who hasn't played high level chess in ages...and he will 'think'....and get into time trouble...and have bad results.

His result so far would be worse if Aronian had not taken pity on him in their first game.