By Anastasiya Karlovich
The fifth day of Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz was smooth sailing for Alireza Firouzja, who made it to the top of the standings and won the 2022 St Louis Grand Chess Tour with four rounds to spare. Alireza scored amazing 8/9 points today and will collect $40,000 for his efforts. Firouzja’s rivals for first place, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Hikaru Nakamura could not chase an unstoppable leader for too long today. After a couple of rounds, it was clear they could fight for second place only. Hikaru Nakamura was able to keep pace and finished the tournament in second place with one round to go, while MVL tied for third place with Fabiano Caruana, who fought hard today as well.
There will be only two rest days for the players and then the Sinquefield Cup Round 1 will begin on Friday, September 2, at 1:00pm. Things will heat up even more as the World Champion Magnus Carlsen joins the field.
After 9 rapid games and 18 blitz games over the course of 5 days, Alireza Firouzja lost only one rapid game on the second day vs Levon Aronian and won 15 games. Such an achievement is incredibly impressive on its own, given the strength of the field. During the interview after the end of the tournament, It turned out that a long time ago Alireza made a promise to himself to win his first tournament when he finally comes to St Louis.
Alireza Firouzja: I could reveal a secret now, it was my promise for a long time if I come to St Louis, I will win my first tournament. Cristian Chirila: whom did you make that promise? Alireza: to myself. Photo: GCT/Lennart Ootes
”The chess club in St Louis is really remarkable. I’m really in love with the club and really happy to be here”, said the winner. Alireza not only won the tournament but also crossed 2900 border in the blitz rating list. The winner was still a bit sad, as his accomplishment was not good enough to jump over Hikaru Nakamura in the world blitz rankings.
Hikaru won both blitz games vs Fabiano. Photo: GCT/Lennart Ootes
Hikaru started the day 5 with a victory against Fabiano Caruana but suddenly lost 2 games in a row vs Alireza Firouzja and Levon Aronian. It seemed like the American grandmaster was losing his track but he managed to stabilize his play after winning in the next round vs Sam Shankland. He scored an impressive 5,5/6 and finished the tournament in the sole second place being the last after the first three days of rapid.
Hikaru Nakamura in the studio. Photo: GCT/Lennart Ootes
“I’m very happy with the way I played after those 2 unfortunate loses today, just won a couple of games at the end, so second place is pretty good,” said Hikaru. He was happy to show he still could play chess, as lots of people were saying after the rapid it was time for him to come back and retire. The good news for Hikaru’s fans - he will be back in Saint Louis for the Champions Showdown this September.
Fabiano Caruana managed to catch MVL and tied for third place. Photo: Crystal Fuller
The two players who tied for third place MVL and Fabiano Caruana had different journeys these days. Maxime was chasing the winner from day one and tied for first place a few times, while Fabiano Caruana was struggling to get to the top and stayed at a distance from the leaders for most of the tournament. The American redeemed himself in the second half, finishing with a score of 3.5/4, including a crucial win over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the last round. “I feel embarrassed with what happened in the end because I should have lost the last game,” said Fabiano, adding that he feels that his result was better than his play.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Photo: GCT/Lennart Ootes
MVL slow down in the blitz portion of Saint Louis GCT and finished day five with the same result as on the previous day - 4/9. Three draws in the last rounds with Aronian, Firuozja and Shankland, helped Fabiano Caruana to catch the Frenchman in third place.
Replay the broadcast from day 5 on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.
Grand Chess Tour Standings
The fight for the top places in the overall Grand Chess Tour standings continues. With the Sinquefield Cup starting on Friday, there are still several players who are in contention for the title of 2022 Grand Chess Tour Champion.