Opening the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz 2019

by Venkatachalam Saravanan
8/10/2019 – It's the next leg of the Grand Chess Tour, IM VENTKATACHALAM SARAVANAN reports on the opening ceremony from the Saint Louis Chess Club on the eve of the rapid tournament. Can Magnus Carlsen be stopped? Sergey Karjakin: “My answer may be primitive, but we (all have) to play very well!” Levon Aronian: “I don't think it is about stopping somebody. It is about achieving more points than the person”.

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Opening the tournament

The annual Rapid & Blitz event of the Grand Chess Tour got off to a start with the usual crisp and short opening ceremony and drawing of lots here in Saint Louis, Missouri, today. The five-day event will follow its usual course between Aug 10th and 14th, with the round-robin rapid event being held in the first three days followed by the double round-robin blitz event in the last two days. The three-week long gala festival at the iconic Saint Louis Chess Club will continue with the Sinquefield Cup from August 17th to 28th, one of the two classical event of the GCT (apart from the Croatian GCT event held in June/July), carrying more tour points than the Rapid & Blitz — 20 for the sole winner, 18 for a tied first place (against 13 / 20 in the faster time controls).

The event carries a total prize fund of USD$150,000 with the winner's prize being $37,500. The rapid event will be played with the time control of 25 minutes per game per player, with a time delay of 10 seconds per move. The blitz event will be played with 5 minutes per player per game, with a time delay of 3 seconds per move.

Players at the opening ceremony

Players at the opening ceremony | Photo: V. Saravanan

Considering that these two events are at the exact halfway mark of the GCT 2019, these two could be the most crucial in terms of the leader group being formed, racing to be at the top four qualifying for the final to be held at London along with the London Classic event. The total prize money for the whole GCT 2019 is $1.75 million.

Without a doubt, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was the cynosure of all eyes at the opening ceremony, performing exceptionally so far in the GCT, with a total of 33 points, followed by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on 23 and Wesley So on 22.

The master of ceremonies for the evening, Maurice Ashley, asked each of the players the (mildly politically incorrect) question, “One player has played extremely well, winning everything he has played this year. What is it going to stop the World Champion from taking this Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz?'” That livened up the evening. As can be expected from the array of the strongest most creative players of the world, some of the jolly answers were greeted by the audience with loud laughter and cheers:

Ding Liren: “First I have to survive my own game against him — last time I lost to him with white pieces! So I have to do better, and then, it is none of my business!!”

Sergey Karjakin: “My answer may be primitive, but we (all have) to play very well!”

Levon Aronian: “I don't think it is about stopping somebody. It is about achieving more points than the person”.

Leinier Dominguez: “If we know the answer, things would have been different, yeah?!”

Yu Yangyi: “Definitely, Magnus is the best, but I (hope), Magnus will (commit) mistakes!”

But true to the ambiance of Saint Louis, the much-needed trash-talking came from Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: “First I have to think about stopping Fabiano (Caruana)! Of course, Magnus has had a very good year, but let us not forget that he lost his last game to me!!”

Mamedyarov, Ding, Carlsen and Karjakin

Mamedyarov: "Let us not forget that he lost his last game to me!" | Photo: V. Saravanan

Thus, the tournament starts with the inevitable question of anyone playing better than Magnus Carlsen to upstage him from winning yet another tournament in a string of excellent performances.

It is also inevitable that the absence of three players is felt heavily here — America's own Hikaru Nakamura, held highly for his prowess in faster time controls, the 'local boy' Wesley So, and Vishy Anand, who surprised everyone with his final spurt at the Paris leg, but they will join the party at the subsequent Sinquefield Cup.

True to his interest in the ambience of chess organization, the 'godfather of American chess' Rex Sinquefield unveiled a new chess table inspired by the design of the tables used at the 1966 Havana Olympics where Bobby Fischer played

Dominguez and Sinquefield

Dominguez, who has emigrated to the USA from Cuba, with the sponsor Rex Sinquefield at the newly unveiled chess table

Schedule

All times in UTC.

Rapid

Time (CDT)

August 10

August 11

August 12

1:00 PM

Round 1

Round 4

Round 7

2:30 PM

Round 2

Round 5

Round 8

4:00 PM

Round 3

Round 6

Round 9

Blitz

Time (CDT)

August 13

Time (CDT)

August 14

1:00 PM

Round 1

1:00 PM

Round 10

1:30 PM

Round 2

1:30 PM

Round 11

2:00 PM

Round 3

2:00 PM

Round 12

2:30 PM

Round 4

2:30 PM

Round 13

3:00 PM

Round 5

3:00 PM

Round 14

3:30 PM

Round 6

3:30 PM

Round 15

4:00 PM

Round 7

4:00 PM

Round 16

4:30 PM

Round 8

4:30 PM

Round 17

5:00 PM

Round 9

5:00 PM

Round 18

 

 

5:30 PM

Playoffs

Links




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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jackyessir jackyessir 8/14/2019 11:55
What a wonderful chess journalism. 100 % EXCELLANT ! A true Gem and a Joy !
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