By Eric Rosen
At the end of another thrilling day of chess, Hikaru Nakamura was crowned the champion of the 2021 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. The American speed demon demonstrated impressive form throughout the event and will take home $37,500.00 for his efforts. This marks Hikaru’s second victory at the Saint Rapid in Blitz since the tournament’s inception in 2017. His previous victory was in 2018. Fabiano Caruana narrowly edged out Richard Rapport to capture clear 2nd place and a nice paycheck of $25,000.00.
Tournament Final standings
Coming into the final day of blitz chess, Hikaru Nakamura had three goals:
- Win the tournament
- Maintain his no-loss streak
- Maintain his #1 spot in the world blitz ratings.
Nakamura accomplished the first goal without a hitch. He clinched clear first place with 3 rounds to spare. Such a feat is incredibly impressive on its own, given the strength of the field. The second goal was a bit more challenging. Throughout the day, Hikaru found himself hanging on for dear life, especially in his games against Sam Shankland and Leinier Dominguez. However, Nakamura demonstrated amazing precision and resourcefulness to save difficult positions and stay undefeated. After 9 rapid games and 18 blitz games over the course of 5 days, Nakamura did not lose a single one. Unfortunately, the final goal of keeping the top blitz rating in the world was just out of reach. Given the large number of draws, Nakamura slipped just below Magnus Carlsen in the world blitz rankings. Magnus had this to say to Hikaru on Twitter: “Congrats to world #2 rated rapid and blitz player @GMHikaru for winning the #STLRapidBlitz with a dominating, unbeaten performance!”
GM Hikaru Nakamura, 2021 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Champion
Grand Chess Tour Standings
The fight for the top places in the overall Grand Chess Tour standings is still very hotly contested. With a 4th place finish in this event, Wesley So earned 7 GCT points and leapfrogged Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to become the new tour leader with 28.3 GCT points. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov earned 4 GCT points from this event, boosting his overall score to 22.5 GCT points, barely eclipsing MVL who now stands in third place with 22 GCT points. With the Sinquefield Cup starting on Tuesday, August 17, there are still several players who are in contention for the title of 2021 Grand Chess Tour Champion.
GM Wesley So, the new leader of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour
A report from the final day of the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz would not be complete without giving huge kudos to GM Liem Le. He produced another great performance in the blitz portion and scored 5.5/9 on the final day. Over the last two days of blitz, Le gained 84.4 points on the live blitz rating list and now stands at #14 in the world. Despite standing in last place after the rapid portion, Le’s epic recovery landed him in 5th place, earning a $12,500.00 paycheck.
GM Liem Le, 5th Place in the 2021 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz
While the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz is officially over, chess fans don’t have to wait much longer for more world class chess. The Sinquefield Cup starts in only a few days with 10 of the top players in the world. Be sure to catch all the action at https://grandchesstour.org/ and https://kasparovchess.com/grand-chess-tourt with live commentary from grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley, and Alejandro Ramirez starting at 2:50pm CT on August 17th.