Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz: Karjakin ascendent

by Venkatachalam Saravanan
8/18/2017 – Reigning World Blitz Champion Sergey Karjakin dominated the first leg of the Blitz event as he scored 8 points out of a possible 9, but still pronounced that he was ‘actually very angry that I didn’t win my first game against Garry!’ in their mutual encounter. Aronian continues to lead the overall standings comprising the score from the Rapid event as well. One more round-robin cycle of Blitz remains to be played on Friday, August 18th. | Photos: Lennart Ootes

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Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz

Day 4

In Saint Louis, a minor difference in time control has made the Blitz event more interesting for spectators, and tenser for the players. It's not uncommon in international blitz tournaments to give both the players five minutes each for the whole game, plus an additional three seconds added to the clock after each move. Thus, for example, after making 10 moves on the board, the players would have used not only the initial five minutes, but also a cumulative gain of 30 seconds added to their clock.

Clock view

(Above) What you see is what you get! | (Below) Kasparov gesturing to keep things quiet | Photos: Lennart Ootes

But in the current event, instead of adding of three seconds, there is a Bronstein time delay of three seconds added back after each move. This means that when a player plays every move fast, he gains no additional time as a consequence. Rather, to opmtimise available time it would make sense to fully use all three seconds available for him for each move, which is difficult to do in practice.


The advantage for spectators is that the time you see on any player's clock is the maximum he will ever have in the game, whereas in other international events, a few quick moves can easily change the clock situation for a player dramatically. This is one reason why we have in fact seen several time forfeits occur in the event so far.

Overall, the quality of games remained very high for blitz, as the field contains specialists in the shortest form of the game (Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, Le and Aronian).

There were two curious incidents, both involving Vishy Anand. In his game against Nakamura in the third round, a draw was agreed on the 27th move, unitl International Arbiter Chris Bird reminded the players about the 30 move minimum rule. As the matter was being clarified at the board, the commotion disturbed Kasparov, playing on the adjacent board, and he was visibly annoyed.

Here's the moment, as it happened:

Kasparov annoyed by noise | CCSCSL on YouTube

Incidentally, a similar occurrance in the Rapid event in the game between Anand and Kasparov has made Chris Bird a bit notorious. 

The other incident involving Anand happened in his game against Karjakin in the last round, when the following position was reached:


Now, Black’s Rook moving to a4 would mean a three-fold repetition. Instead of stopping the clock and making his claim to the arbiter, as the rules require, Anand executed the move 57...Ra4 on the board and then claimed a draw. The position already had been repeated three times, but it was now White to move. His claim was therefore rejected by the arbiter.

Karjakin continued with 58.Kb3 after which Anand had yet another opportunity for threefold repetition as the position after 58...Ra1 too would have been repeated three times. However, a flummoxed Anand instead varied with 58...Rxh4? afer which Karjakin’s passed pawn on a5 proved to be the pivotal factor of the position. Anand lost the game in five more moves.

Anand and Gajewski

Anand with his second, Grzegorz Gajewski | Photo: Austin Fuller

The former world champion was understandably dejected with his form and pronounced, “It's a catastrophe but there's not much you can do about it. You have to play tomorrow”.

Standings after Blitz Round 9

Blitz only

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Karjakin Sergey 8,0 7
2 Aronian Levon 6,5 5
3 Nakamura Hikaru 5,5 3
4 Nepomniachtchi Ian 5,0 3
5 Le Quang Liem 4,0 2
6 Caruana Fabiano 3,5 3
7 Kasparov Garry 3,5 1
8 Anand Viswanathan 3,5 0
9 Dominguez Perez Leinier 3,0 2
10 Navara David 2,5 1


Rk. Title Name FED ELO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts. Perf. TB
1 GM Levon Aronian
2799   ½½ 01 10 01 11 ½1 11 18.5 / 18 2912  
2 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2792 ½½   ½0 ½1 ½1 ½½ 11 16.5 / 18 2849  
3 GM Sergey Karjakin
2773 ½1   ½1 01 11 ½1 ½½ 11 01 16.0 / 18 2893  
4 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi
2751 10 ½0   ½1 ½½ ½1 ½½ ½1 15.0 / 18 2814  
5 GM Fabiano Caruana
2807 01 ½0 10 ½0   00 10 11 ½½ 11 14.5 / 18 2770  
6 GM Quang Liem Le
2739 10 00 ½½ 11   01 ½½ 00 12.0 / 18 2739 5.00
7 GM Leinier Dominguez Perez
2739 00 ½0 ½0 ½0 01   ½0 ½½ 11 12.0 / 18 2719 4.00
8 GM Garry Kasparov
2812 ½0 ½½ ½½ 00 10 ½1   ½½ 10.5 / 18 2691 2.00
9 GM Viswanathan Anand
2783 00 00 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½   10.5 / 18 2694 1.00
10 GM David Navara
2737 00 10 ½0 00 11 00   9.5 / 18 2657  

Games and commentary


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



Saravanan is an IM from Chennai, the southern-most state of Tamil Nadu, India. He has been an active chess player in the Indian circuit, turning complete chess professional in 2012, actively playing and being a second to strong Indian players. He has been consistently writing on chess since late 1980s and is a correspondent to national newspapers and news channels.


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