St. Louis Grand Chess Tour Rapid and Blitz

8:04pm Friday, August 23rd, 2019

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... Daniel Rensch attended the closing ceremony where we talked about the Denver Open and how he enjoyed it very much.

We are treated to another great report from St. Louis by John Brezina. What the Sinquefield's are doing for chess in the United States is just awesome. Having Mr. Brezina attending these chess superstar tournaments, taking terrific pictures , and providing his summaries of the events is just fantastic. John seems to think I am doing him a favor by selecting and captioning the pictures. It is my pleasure to do so. I think we can all agree that he is doing us the favor. The heading photo is the best player in the world walking to the board for his game against GM Sergey Karjakin...

...and the game begins with the traditional handshake.

This report includes not to be missed video scenes of superstar, IM Danny Rensch trash talking while playing a blitz match against international superstar GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Made all the more entertaining since they are playing bullet blitz chess with the giant pieces on the outdoor board at the USCF Chess Hall of Fame. The link also has video of the tournament blitz games in progress. 

Here is a couple of teaser pictures from the blitz match videos... 

... and who says chess isn't athletic :-)

Quoting John Brezina: "There is nothing like a hot humid summer day in St. Louis. Especially when the top players in the world are playing rapid & blitz chess. August is the busy month for the premier chess events of the Grand Chess Tour in St. Louis starting with the Rapid & Blitz tournament followed by the Sinquefield Cup. Adding to this year's excitement was World Champion Magnus Carlsen would be appearing in both tournaments. I was joined by fellow DCC member Dean Clow for an action-packed week of chess."

Dean, and a couple of other spectators, enjoying a street chess game outside the St. Louis chess club.

"We both missed the first three days of Rapid play but showed up for all eighteen rounds of Blitz. GM Levon Aronian and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave shared first after nine rounds of Rapid play. Trailing just behind them were the two best Chinese players, number one GM Ding Liren and wildcard to the tour, GM Yu Yangyi. Absent was last years winner Hikaru Nakamura as players in the Grand Chess Tour pick three of five blitz tour events to play in."

The handshake ... and may the best man win. 

China's #1 player, GM Ding Laren...

...and his compatriot, GM Yu Yangyi

"The playing hall upstairs at the St. Louis Chess Club was modified this year to add extra room for spectators as boards were spread out on both sides for better viewing. In addition, beautiful new tables were designed based upon the Cuban-style with inlaid DGT boards and digital TV screens on the side for pairing info."

GM Carlsen's games always attract a crowd...

...maybe because his face expresses his thoughts about his opponents move :-)

"Round one was a mix of results and no one can deny that any event with Magnus Carlsen gets extra attention. When they let fans upstairs for the start of round one, a large crowd gathered in front of the Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave table."

GM Vachier-Lagrave is ready to play.

"With ten great players and five games to watch at any time, it was difficult to choose one. A terrible problem, I know. Round one finished with Fabiano Caruana losing to Richard Rapport who had a strong showing in day one of the blitz. Fabiano would finish the day with only 1.5 points."

GM Richard Rapport. I like my pieces to be just so, OK? 

"Magnus would defeat MVL for his first of three wins on day one but would surprisingly lose three games as well. Ding Liren and Sergey Karjakin would each score best with 6.5 points for the day. And despite losing his first two games MVL would finish the day still in the lead by half a point over Levon Aronian. Next door throughout the tournament in the Kingside Diner was the excellent live commentary by Cristian Chirila and Alejandro Ramirez."

Mr. Defense, GM Sergey Karjakin.

"After watching the best in the world blitz all day one can't help but crave to play a little blitz themselves. It just so happened that evening the Chess Club held a seven round G5 Sinquefield blitz tournament. It was organized by International Arbiter and coach of the St. Louis Archbishops, Mike Kummer."

This guy probably didn't know who he was messing with... 

...and probably this young man didn't either :-)

"Dean and I both entered to have a little fun with a total of thirty players. From unrated to 2200+ players and no delay it was sure to have a few fireworks. After my first game paired with an 850 player, my next would pair me with Roman Kozelov, a Master level player. Dean and I would both play several young kids who played at lightning speed and would surprise a few opponents having no delay on the clock. The last round paired Dean up with tournament winner NM Julian Proleiko who went undefeated."

GM Leinier Dominguez is about to move

"The final day of blitz had the leaderboard changing throughout. MVL and Aronian would be followed closely by the Chinese players. Fan-favorite Magnus would win three in a row but then lose three in a row starting with a loss to Fabiano. One time world blitz champion Leinier Dominguez had a tough go and only scored 6.5 total points out of eighteen games."

GM Carlsen may not be happy with his position. 

"The final round had Aronian leading over Yu Yangyi by a full point. Shak Mamedyarov would play Yu Yangyi and a draw against MVL would secure first place for Aronian. But the beast that is MVL would come out and defeat Aronian and secure second place. Ding Liren would win his final game and tie for second place as well."

Still,.. I am the winner. 

"All attention turned to the Yangyi game where the game fizzled down to a same colored bishop endgame draw. Aronian's second GM Manuel Petrosyan rushed over to tell Levon who broke out into a huge smile. Yu Yangyi, therefore, joined a three way tie for second."

GM Sergey Karjakin congratulating his friend and rival.

"Sergey Karjakin who scored tops in the blitz tournament was the first to congratulate Aronian who later thanked Shak Mamedyarov for holding the draw which prevented any playoffs."

A young fan getting an autograph from GM Anish Giri... 

...and from the smiling tournament winner.

"The following day would be restful for everyone until the autograph session and closing ceremony. Before that, though in the morning at the World Chess Hall of Fame I came across a bullet blitz battle between personality Daniel Rensch against the French Beast Maxime Vachier Lagrave. Not just any bullet game but on the big board out front along the sidewalk. It was live-streamed on the website and quite a crowd of kibitzers showed up including former world champion Vishy Anand."

GM Anand (center) with a couple of his friends enjoying crazy bullet blitz with giant pieces.

"It was quite entertaining to watch as Danny Rensch is a master trash talker and both got quite a workout. I've included all five rounds I recorded on video and recommend watching to see the results and the great comeback."

Wild and crazy :-)

"Later that evening Daniel Rensch attended the closing ceremony where we talked about the Denver Open and how he enjoyed it very much. Also, I was able to see Tatev Abrahamyan and presented her with a gift of my Denver Open photo book. She not only enjoyed seeing herself on the cover but enjoyed the tournament very much and I hope to see her return next year."

Chess commentator extraordinaire, Maurice Ashley, speaking at the closing ceremony.

"After all the mingling among players and organizers, Maurice Ashley hosted a fine closing ceremony that had Mr. & Mrs. Sinquefield congratulating all the players. Then they both presented Levon Aronian the trophy where he then gave a humble, kind speech as the gentleman he is."

Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield presenting the winners trophy. Which was...

...graciously accepted by GM Aronian.

'Dean and I both had a great time once again in St. Louis. Not just watching the best in the world play chess but playing a little ourselves. We visited the St. Louis Zoo and Art Museum and enjoyed the best bbq ribs and mac & cheese. Then I found out Dean is quite a good ping pong player but an even better pool player. Growing up in England Dean was quite a snooker player and it was fun watching him run the table at the Chase Plaza where we ran into several players."

Dean and John are quite pleased to be attending the tournament.

Of note was playing there with the very entertaining Russian duo commentary team of GM Evgeny Miroshcnichenko and IM Almira Skripchenko. Miss Almira was quite pleasant to speak with and has quite a list of credentials including six time French Women's champion, where she now resides. She speaks Russian, French, and English and also has played in the World Series of Poker.


  IM Almira Skripchenko. Shown here playing at another tournament.

"Thanks again to everyone who do so much for chess. I'll leave you with this Persian proverb I recently read as it caught my attention. "After the game is over, the pawn and the king go into the same box" - John Brezina Parker Chess Club

It is us thanking you, Mr. Brezina for the great commentary, pictures, and videos. 

Last Modified: 8/24/2019 at 12:06pm Views: 804