St. Louis Rapid & Blitz: Excitement galore

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/12/2021 – Three rounds of thrilling games were played on Wednesday at the start of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Tournament. Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez (pictured) finished the day sharing the lead on 5/6 points (wins are worth 2 points in the rapid section of the event). Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura stand a point behind. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Caruana and Dominguez in the lead

Six out of the ten participants at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Tournament are representing the United States. After three rounds of rapid chess, two of them are sharing the lead on 5/6 points: Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez. They are followed by two other Americans, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura, who both won in round 3 to remain well within touching distance of the leaders.

The day kicked off with wins for Dominguez and Richard Rapport. The latter made the most of an early mistake by Sam Shankland.

 

White carelessly played 14.a3, failing to foresee that Black could give up a piece with 14...axb3 15.axb4 Qxb4 to get a strong initiative on the queenside.

The queens left the board on move 19, and by move 23 it was clear that Black’s passed pawns were much stronger than White’s extra piece.

 

After 23...b4, Rapport did not take long to convince his opponent that there was no way to save a draw from this position. 

 

All games from round 1

Richard Rapport

As sharp as ever — Richard Rapport | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The second round also saw two decisive results, albeit in two games of markedly different nature. While Caruana showcased phenomenal preparation and great strategic understanding to beat Le Quang Liem’s London System with the black pieces, Peter Svidler suffered a painful loss against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

 

After a double-edged struggle in the opening and middlegame, White found himself two pawns to the good in a rook and knight endgame. Svidler had succeeded to outplay a great tactician, but still needed to convert this position while low on time. The Russian star began to lose the thread shortly after, and the following setup eventually appeared on the board.

 

Black has managed to create enough obstacles for his opponent, and now White only has a slim chance to actually get the win.

Suddenly, Mamedyarov’s resilience was further rewarded, as Svidler lost on time after grabbing his king — planning to place it on f3 (which would be responded by 54...Ne5+, forking king and rook) — only to realize his time had run out while he attempted to find the right square for his monarch.

The dramatic conclusion of the game:

 

All games from round 2

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Peter Svidler

Experienced fighters — Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Peter Svidler | Photo: Lennart Ootes

All five games of the third round had decisive results. Dominguez showed excellent technique to beat Rapport with white; So castled queenside to create a sharp battle against Shankland and obtained a nice 41-move win; Caruana punished Jeffery Xiong’s blunder; Nakamura beat a shell-shocked Svidler; and Le got the better of Mamedyarov with the black pieces.

This was the picturesque final position in Mamedyarov v Le.

 

White’s blunder came on move 9, when he played 9.Nb1. Le made sure to demonstrate why placing the knight next to the king in these kinds of positions can badly backfire.

 

All games from round 3

Le Quang Liem

Le Quang Liem | Photo: Bryan Adams


Standings after round 3 (Win = 2 points; Draw = 1 point)

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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