June 3rd marks the beginning of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, which is a collection of the highest rated tournaments in the world forming a pathway leading up to this year’s World Chess Championship. The upcoming events are:
June 3-15: Superbet Chess Classic Romania in Bucharest, Romania
June 16-23: Paris Rapid and Blitz in Paris, France
July 5-12: Croatia Rapid and Blitz in Zagreb, Croatia
August 9-16: Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz in Saint Louis, Missouri
August 16-28: Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, Missoui
This year, the total prize fund is approximately $1.25 million US dollars with a chance for the top three tour finishers to earn a share of an additional $175,000! Live coverage of the games will be provided by Chess.com, Chess24, and by a variety of chess streamers on Twitch.
The Sinquefield Cup is always an amazing event and has come to solidify its place as one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world. Every year, the best chess players from around the world converge on the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis to compete in the round robin tournament. The Sinquefield Cup is also memorable for Fabiano Caruana’s incredible run in 2014, which I built a commemorative wall piece to celebrate the tournament. After some scheduling changes due to the upcoming Baku Olympian, this year’s event included Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler, and wildcard Ding Liren.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen opted out of this year’s event so that he could focus on the upcoming World Chess Championship in New York.
After some thrilling games between the world’s elite players it was Wesley So, the former Webster University prodigy, who took a commanding lead early in the tournament and cruised to a solid victory with 5.5/9 pts.
The Sinquefield Cup is part of the second Grand Chess Tour, which aims to promote professional chess around the world. The Grandmasters featured in the Sinquefield Cup are regular participants in the tour. For details and photos from the Sinquefield Cup, check out the detailed analysis on Chessbase.
This means that starting in the 3rd quarter of this year will begin a marathon of professional chess that will culminate with November’s 2016 World Chess Championship at a location to be announced in the United States. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the chess calendar looks from August to December of this year, barring any sudden changes by our robot overlords FIDE.
In 1994 when Homer Simpson was launched into outer space and inadvertently released laboratory ants aboard the space shuttle and a closeup of the floating insects was interpreted by Kent Brockman, everyone’s favorite TV announcer, as an invasion of earth by insectoids. The quote, I for one welcome our new insect overlords, was taken from the film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Empire of the Ants and has since been parodied countless times through various memes.
Kent Does Not Look Happy About This One… (Credit: FOX)
So, why the backstory on the title? No reason, just word count. :)
I felt that it was the proper way to address the World Chess Federation‘s (FIDE) recent release of date changes to the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku and the 2016 FIDE Congress, moving both tournaments up from the end of September to the first two weeks of the month. Why is this such a big deal, then? Well, it just so happens that the end of August and into the first week of September is traditionally the time of the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, where the world’s strongest chess players including Magnus Carlsen play as part of the Grand Chess Tour.
With the overlords at FIDE now dictating that the Olympiad and the Congress will occur at the same time as the Sinquefield Cup, that creates a very difficult situation for players in both tournaments. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has already mentioned via Twitter at 1450 CST that it is aware of the conflict and is working on a revised schedule.
@LennartOotes@TarjeiJS We are aware the Olympiad dates impact the Sinquefield Cup. We are working to have the schedule rectified shortly.
I, for one, am not so welcoming of our robot overlords who can shift tournaments without so much as an explanation. I also suspect that I am not the only one out there that might be reading between the lines on this one. Even if FIDE is not engaged in a conspiracy against American players, the sudden change of tournament dates will definitely affect players, friends, and family members who have already made plans to attend one of the events or the Sinquefield Cup.
Round 3 of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup saw the tournament developing in a completely different style than last year’s Caruana blowout. After 3 rounds in Saint Louis, Veselin Topalov remains in the lead with 2.5/3 points, but Magnus Carlsen is on a close trail with 2/3 points going into round 4. Topalov played a Canal-Sokolsky attack, which is a Nimzovich-Rossolimo variation.
The variation worked out well for Topalov, who has proven a force to be reckoned with in this year’s tournament. 2nd place is a 3-way tie between Carlsen, Giri, and Aronian each with 2 points. Carlsen played the English against Vachier-Lagrave and managed to edge out the French Grandmaster to continue his exceptional performance rebounding from a tragic time control mixup earlier this year in Norway Chess 2015.
The 2nd round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup is complete and it is almost possible to feel the air being sucked out of the tournament room in Saint Louis from anywhere in the country. Veselin Topalov won a scorching victory against Hikaru Nakamura this evening to go 2-0 in the tournament. The two grandmasters battled it out over the board in a Ruy-Lopez Berlin Defence 3…Nf6 where Topalov held a slight advantage throughout the game before Nakamura succumbed to the pressure with 57…Rd4+.
Topalov’s win brings him to within 25 points of World Champion Magnus Carlsen for #1 on the FIDE leaderboard. Speaking of the champ, Carlsen edged out another victory against Fabiano Caruana to go 2-0 in the tournament. Caruana was unable to obtain compensation after Carlsen’s brilliant 39…Rb2! This time last year, Caruana was beginning his now-famous rampage through his opponents in the tournament, but the beauty of chess is showing us that nothing is a sure thing, even in the professional world.
GM Topalov V. (1) 2816
GM Nakamura H. (1) 2814
GM Vachier-Lagr. (1) 2731
GM Aronian L. (1) 2765
GM Giri Anish (1) 2793
GM So Wesley (0) 2779
GM Caruana F. (0) 2808
GM Carlsen M. (0) 2853
GM Grischuk A. (0) 2771
GM Anand V. (0) 2816
After two rounds, Veselin Topalov has sole lead in the tournament with Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian, and Giri coming in close second.
The first round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup is finished with each game concluding decisively. Magnus Carlsen and Veselin Topalov played a rather snoozy game that the World Champion later referred to as chicken chess. It seemed at times like Carlsen was playing as though he was not familiar with the opening. In the end Carlsen was unable to obtain sufficient compensation for his play and fell in the first round to Topalov.
Fabiano Caruana, who was last year’s tournament champion, was among the first players to fall in the first round. Caruana was unable to solve an exciting game against Levon Aronian. This was the game that I spent most of the day watching because I was curious to see how Caruana was going to approach this year’s tournament play. When it became apparent that he would be unable to convert a win against Aronian, WGM Jennifer Shahade remarked that Caruana, although lost, was poised to go out in a blaze of glory.
Fighting Spirit Throughout
While the Carlsen-Topalov game was a nice sleeper, it was clear that the participants came to Saint Louis this year with a strong will to fight in their hearts. Round 02 starts tomorrow at 1300 EST at the Saint Louis Chess Club and will be broadcast on multiple mediums across the web.
Updated 1945 EST w/Round 1 Pairings – Click here to view.
The players have arrived in Saint Louis for the start of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup! Although it looks like rain has put a damper on some of the outside activities, the autograph session at 1200L was scheduled to proceed regardless of the weather. Round 1 will start tomorrow at 1300L with the following players participating:
Recently, I mentioned that I always seem to be on the road or in a place with limited internet access whenever a big chess event is going on. This year’s Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis was no exception. It was billed as the Strongest Chess Tournament in History and rightfully so. The list of participants was a veritable “who’s who” of the championship chess world.
2014 Sinquefield Cup Participants
It goes without saying that most people expected World Champion Magnus Carlsen to show up and dominate, but destiny favored #3 Fabio Caruana who made chess history with an impressive seven wins in a row! Caruana found a way to channel his inner Fischer and was nearly flawless through those first seven games, which included a win against Magnus and gave the World Champion his second loss in as many months.
Caruana appeared calm and cool throughout the tournament.
I was surprised by watching Magnus Carlsen in this tournament. He was certainly not playing to top form and seemed somewhat disinterested in the entire experience. I know that he was battling some contract drama with FIDE during the tournament and that might have had an effect on his ability to concentrate, which might prove problematic for the upcoming World Championship in Sochi. Although Magnus is virally famous for his unusual facial expressions, he has started to look run down both on the board and in his personal appearance recently.
A frustrated Magnus Carlsen.
I hope that he is able to get some rest and relaxation time before the championship match in November, or else the world might be ushering in the era of a new World Champion.
Fabio Caruana Sinquefield Games
The television production and broadcast on Chess24 and Chessbase was first rate for this event! It is always wonderful to see my favorite female chess player and commentator, Jennifer Shahade breaking down the moves! Just don’t get me started on Hikaru Nakamura in this tournament…