St. Louis Rapid & Blitz: Firouzja starts off on the right foot

by Klaus Besenthal
8/27/2022 – The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, part of the Grand Chess Tour, kicked off on Friday. On the first three days of the event, the ten participating world-class players battle it out in a round-robin tournament of 25+10 rapid games. After the first day, on which three rounds were played, Alireza Firouzja is topping the standings with 5 points (a win is worth two points in the rapid). | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

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An American tradition

The tournament is the fourth event on the Grand Chess Tour. Three tournaments, all of which were held in Europe, have already been included in the overall tour ranking: the Superbet Chess Classic Romania, the Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland and the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia. Immediately after the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, the last event of the Grand Chess Tour will start, also at the Saint Louis Chess Club: the Sinquefield Cup.

Dr. Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield during the opening ceremony | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

At the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, three rounds of 25+10 Rapid Chess are played on each of the first three tournament days. With two points per win, a maximum of 18 points can be gained for the overall standings of the event. On day 4 and day 5, nine rounds of 5+2 blitz per day will follow, with one point per win.

Sportingly, the first day of the tournament was not a success for Levon Aronian, but in terms of shirt selection he was clearly the number one | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

For Alireza Firouzja the tournament began with a victory over the Azerbaijani Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. A single white rook, which strolled death-defyingly through the opponent’s position, did most of the work:



Alireza Firouzja also won his second game, against Hikaru Nakamura | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

The highlight in round 3 was Alireza Firouzja’s game against Sam Shankland. GM Karsten Müller analysed the most important variations:



If Black would immediately continue to give checks in the variation after 47.Kf5 Qc5+ 48.e5, then White would reach the curious position shown below, in which the white king cannot be attacked any more:

Commentator Cristian Chirila | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

That was tough! | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 3


All games



Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.