St. Louis Rapid & Blitz: Caruana beats Dominguez and So, leads

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/13/2021 – Fabiano Caruana climbed to sole first place at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Tournament after bouncing back from a loss against Sam Shankland with back-to-back victories over Leinier Dominguez and Wesley So on Thursday. Hikaru Nakamura is in sole second place after drawing all three of his games on day 2. | Photo: Bryan Adams

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Shankland the top scorer on day 2

About two weeks ago, Sam Shankland was knocked out of the World Cup by Sergey Karjakin. The former US champion almost made it into the semifinals, after eliminating the likes of Baadur Jobava and Peter Svidler, and even winning the first game against Karjakin. Given how well he had played, the result was understandably disappointing, although he had once again proven he is absolutely capable of facing the very best in the world on equal terms.

The Californian had a tough first day in Saint Louis, but he bounced right back, beating top seed Fabiano Caruana in round 4.


Caruana found the right idea to break White’s bind in the centre and kingside, but he played it one move too early — instead of his 41...g5, he needed to start with 41...Qe5+, when in case of 42.Qg3, it is actually good to untangle with 42...g5.

Shankland’s initiative had increased, and he made the most of it, eventually infiltrating Black’s position along the dark squares.


45.Be4 was the losing blunder, as it allowed 45...Qe3 46.f5 Qh6 and there is no defence for Black. Resignation came five moves later.


Sam Shankland

Sam Shankland | Photo: Austin Fuller

Shankland’s win allowed Leinier Dominguez to grab the sole lead after drawing Wesley So with the white pieces. The Cuban-born grandmaster could not hold on to first place, though, as he was outplayed by Caruana in a strategic battle.


White’s spatial advantage is crucial in this closed position, a factor which was masterly taken advantage of by Caruana, who followed with 33.Bd1 Qc7 34.Ba4 Rxa5 35.hxg5


Black cannot capture the bishop on a4 with either piece due to fxg6+, Qxh6 which wins for White. Notwithstanding, after 35...hxg5 36.Qh2, Caruana still left his bishop undefended, since he correctly assessed that the infiltration along the h-file was decisive. Dominguez threw in the towel shortly after.


Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Tournament 2021

The playing hall | Photo: Austin Fuller

Wins for Shankland and Peter Svidler were also seen in round 5, while Hikaru Nakamura showed excellent defensive skills to save a half point against Jeffery Xiong. Naka went on to draw Shankland in the final round of the day to go into the third day of action in sole second place as the only player who remains undefeated so far in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Caruana beat So after the latter, in untypical fashion, blundered a piece in one move. The other decisive result of the day saw Shakhriyar Mamedyarov beating Dominguez with the black pieces.


Dominguez resigned here, with a fully inoperative rook stuck on a2. 


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 6 (Win = 2 points; Draw = 1 point)



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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