Randy Sinquefield emerges victorious!

by Sabrina Chevannes
9/15/2014 – After Caruana shocked the whole world with his incredible performance, the players took part in a more relaxed chess event at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Well, more relaxed for some more than others! An unusual match between the top players, including one special guest, in the world was staged... with one big handicap: they were paired with the Sinquefields, two amateurs!

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2014 Sinquefield Cup

This super-GM double round robin tournament is being played from August 27th to September 7th. It is billed as the strongest tournament in the history of chess.

The players – Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) – are the world's number 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9, the average rating is 2802, making this the first ever Category XXIII tournament!

The prize fund is US $315,000 in total, with the winner getting $100,000, the runner up $75,00, and the rest $50,000 – $20,000. The venue is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center at 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63108. Tickets cost $15 per round, $65 for five rounds and $100 for all ten rounds.

Randy Sinquefield: The Ultimate Mover 

A new event to be seen at the Sinquefield this year was the “Ultimate Moves” spectacle which involved two teams composed of one amateur and four grandmasters. Rex Sinquefield, co-founder of the Chess Club had a spectacular team of Garry Kasparov, Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Yasser Sairewan.

His worthy opposition was his son, Randy Sinquefield and his team of Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov.

The structure of the competition was as follows: two games would be played where the two amateurs start off against each other and play 5 moves each. Then each GM comes in and plays 5 moves each, rotating until the game is over. The interesting part was that the players were all allowed to “trash talk” and boy, did they not hold back!

Topalov continuing Team Randy's attack against Yasser Seirawan

It all seemed rather level after the first 25 moves, when each of the players had played their 5 moves each. However, it was back to the amateurs and anything could happen… and anything did!

Levon and Fabiano trying to make the best of the position they were given

At a critical moment, when it looked like Black may just be hanging on, Rex put his queen en prise! The reaction of the GMs was a mixture of shock and amusement!

Randy Sinquefield capitalizing on the mistake of the game. Maurice Ashley can hardly believe it!

Team Rex isn't thrilled about the queen blunder

With a queen advantage, Magnus came to the board with a big smile on his face waiting for the resignation of the opposing team. When Yasser tried to resign on behalf of his team, Magnus wouldn’t accept and would only accept Garry’s resignation!

Game two commenced and seemed a little more technical than the first. When Magnus and Garry stepped up, they were already quite serious and were really focusing on the moves. Then when Levon got up to the table against Fabiano, the patronising trash talking began again. Levon spoke to him as if he was teaching a child about the principles of chess; discussing double attacks and pawn structure.

However, when it came to the turn of the amateurs again, they envoked a new feature – the “time-out”. Only the amateurs can call a “Time Out” and as soon as a technical ending arose on Randy’s turn, he called one and so got 60 seconds to discuss plans and ideas with the rest of his team.

Randy Sinquefield getting some useful advice

Team Rex used the time to also discuss their strategy

The ending went on for several moves with all the GMs trying to outsmart each other. The game tossed and turned and for the majority, Randy’s team was ahead again. There was even a shocking time out called on Fabiano’s move, which he was not happy about as his team “advised” him to play a move he intended to play anyway. After all time outs were used, the amateurs managed to memorise the right sequence to lead to a repetition of moves.

The second part of the event was a pairs’ blitz where the amateur played alternate moves with the GM and the losing team would rotate their GM. Garry Kasparov was so focused during these rounds to help lead Rex’s team to victory that he went on a roll and just kept on winning, knocking out both Magnus and Levon.

Garry and Rex seemed nearly unstoppable

However, when it was Hikaru’s turn, Garry and Rex seemed to be unstoppable again, but somehow they lost on a technicality. Rex promoted his pawn but pressed the clock before replacing the pawn with a queen. There was an uproar amongst all the players and the FIDE handbook was consulted and eventually the decision ruled in Team Randy’s favour.

Rules are rules! Rex Sinquefield pushed the pawn to c1 and pressed the clock,
but didn't put anything there! Rex and Garry were forfeited as a consequence.

The players all had their take on the issue

The final showdown was a Rex v Randy match which was highly entertaining and very tense! It went right down to the final few seconds with Randy coming out on top!

It was an epic finish to a fantastic day of dramatic chess. I was impressed to see the amateurs keep up with the super GMs and play for such a long time. The Ultimate Moves was such a great addition to a fantastic event and I hope to see it again next year!


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in 1986 in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England, Sabrina now lives in London where she is managing director of the London Academy of Chess and Education. With over 300 members of the academy, she has one of the largest following of students in the UK. Sabrina is a Women International Master and an active chess player.


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