Ultimate Moves ends with jokes and jibes

by Albert Silver
9/6/2015 – With the final round over and the trophies and checks handed out, one would understandably presume that was the end of the Sinquefield Cup, but not quite yet. There was one last encore for the players and spectators, and not some simul or other, it was the Ultimate Moves. This very fun event brought teams with the stars in blitz games, rotating the players every few moves!

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Ultimate Moves was an informal match of ten games played between two teams - “Team Rex” and “Team Randy”. The names are for father and son Rex and Randy Sinquefield, each of whom had six grandmasters on their bench.

The games started with Rex against Randy, and the players praying to arrive that when they sat down,
it would be at a 'normal' position. (Photo by Austin Fuller)

You might have noticed a slight discrepancy, since the main event only counted ten players not twelve. So who were the two add-ons? None other than Yasser Seirawan, doing live commentary for the official broadcast, and… Garry Kasparov! In fact, there was a mini-showdown between the two, with trash talk and all, but more on that shortly.

The first game of the match also deviated from the following nine in that each side started with ten minutes, with Rex and Randy making the first five moves. After this, both players would swap out for a GM from their bench, and would then continue to rotate every 5 moves with the other grandmasters until the game was won. If enough moves were played, Rex and Randy would indeed rotate back to play a second set, however, as Kasparov mentioned before the game, he hoped there would still be moves to play when his turn came up as he was last on the list for this particular game. 

An important point was made by Master of Ceremony Maurice Ashley, also lending his ever dynamic
commentary to the camera, kibitizing was not only allowed but encouraged. (Photo by Austin Fuller)

Mind you, we are not talking about suggesting moves, which was forbidden, but banter
and trash-talking (Photo by Austin Fuller)

The first shot came from Vishy Anand, who heard Giri complaining about the position he
had inherited when he sat down, "Giri, you're supposed to trash talk the other side, not
your own side." (Photo by Austin Fuller)

Eventually, Garry Kasparov did get his chance at the board, facing Yasser Seirawan, with one
small technical problem: he was down a piece as he sat down. Yasser joked that it was the
best position he had had against Kasparov in 20 years.

Garry Kasparov took it in good humor as everyone else. (Photo by Austin Fuller)

Was that the end? Definitely not, as the game did not end with them, and Rex and Randy resumed play where.... anything goes! As the players saw, a catastrophic blunder gave the win to Team Randy instead.

After the craziness of game one the next phase was nine games, where each side had five minutes (no increment). Rex and Randy played the first game without assistance from the GMs, and the loser was then replaced by a GM from their bench. Obviously this meant Rex or Randy would then be facing an elite player, so to give them a semblance of hope, they were spotted rook odds in that game. This process was repeated for all nine games.

Providing commentary on the side were WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Alejandro Ramirez

Seirawan announced they were sending the Armenian to win the game

Hmmm! I've seen better days... (Photo by Austin Fuller)

Things went south for Team Randy right after he defeated his father Rex in game two, and though no one expected him to survive game three against Nakamura, Team Rex took the lead after with a decisive win after just eight games.

This did not take away from the fun of watching it and listening to the banter at the table. To not end things so quickly, a one-on-one game, with no intervention, was arranged between Yasser Seirawan and Garry Kasparov.

Keeping to the spirit of the day, Yasser presented Garry with a box of tissues as a gift "to
wipe his tears" to come. True to himself though, Kasparov ignored it and put on his game face.

It was a strong game by the former world champion as he obtained a massive advantage against Seirawan, but an oversight gifted his opponent with a chance to save, and save he did. To watch the game, see the video below at 1:45:00.

Completing the day and its promise, a final ten-minute game was put together, following the same rules as the first game, but with both Yasser Seirawan and Garry Kasparov as the first grandmasters to rotate after Rex and Randy played the initial moves.

In spite of the chaos and blunders, the fun factor stood out the most, with jokes and jibes at every turn, and it was a fitting finale to the Sinquefield Cup.

The full video of the Ultimate Moves. From start to finish it lasts about two hours. The actual broadcast
starts after seven minutes.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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