On Chess: The world’s best comeback to America’s chess capital for the 2021 St. Louis Rapid & Blitz

With chess making a strong comeback in 2021, the Grand Chess Tour is finally returning to the chess capital of the United States. The St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, to be held August 10-16, will mark the penultimate event of the Grand Chess Tour.

In recent times, especially during the height of the pandemic, quick failures and blitzes have mostly happened online. Many of the best players in the world (along with us aspiring grandmasters) have gotten into the habit of competing against each other virtually on platforms like chess.com, lichess.org or Chess24. This year, competitors can enjoy some “normalcy” as they begin to fight for a physical chessboard again. Fortunately, they won’t have to worry about the mouse slippage or internet connection issues that have plagued some events online, including last year’s edition of the STL Rapid & Blitz.

A mix of full circuit players and wilds will compete at the St. Louis Chess Club for a generous $ 150,000 prize, including $ 37,500 for the winner. The starred domain includes:

  • GM Fabiano Caruana (USA) – Player of the Tour
  • GM Wesley So (United States) – Player of the Tour
  • GM Shakrihyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) – Player of the Tour
  • GM Richard Rapport (Hungary) – Tour Player
  • Managing Director Hikaru Nakamura (United States) – Wildcard
  • GM Peter Svidler (Russia) – Wildcard
  • GM Leinier Dominguez (United States) – Wildcard
  • GM Liem Le (Vietnam) – Wildcard
  • GM Sam Shankland (United States) – Wildcard
  • Managing Director Jeffery Xiong (United States) – Wildcard

Players of the full circuit will also compete for the first places in the general classification of the Grand Chess Tour. In particular, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, second and third respectively, have a good chance of overtaking Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and leading the Grand Chess Tour after this event.

Ranking of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour after the Grand Chess Tour of Croatia

Ranking of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour after the Grand Chess Tour of Croatia

While any player has the potential to win the STL Rapid & Blitz, many chess fans consider Hikaru Nakamura the overwhelming favorite to win it all. Even though Nakamura is a wild card for this event, he currently has the world’s highest blitz rating of 2,900, eclipsing that of world champion Magnus Carlsen. Additionally, Nakamura has a massive global fan base that will cheer him on with his recent explosion in popularity on Twitch and YouTube.

Starting at 2:50 p.m. CT on August 11, chess fans can follow turn-based coverage of Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Alejandro Ramirez exclusively on grandchesstour.org and kasparovchess.com. Unfortunately, due to local restrictions related to COVID-19, live viewers will not be allowed.

The first three days of the STL Rapid and Blitz will feature a single fast chess round robin with 25 minute time control plus a 10 second increment. The final two days will feature a double roundabout lightning chess with 5 minute time control plus a 2 second increment. Unlike classic events where a single game of chess can easily last 4-6 hours, the fast pace of this event is sure to produce more blunders, dramas, and playoffs!

For chess fans who are always looking for slower chess, don’t worry! The Sinquefield Cup will immediately follow the STL Rapid & Blitz and feature a classic 10-player tournament to determine the Grand Chess Tour champion.

Eric Rosen is an international master’s and a graduate of Webster University with a BA in Interactive Digital Media. Originally from Skokie, IL, Eric now lives in St. Louis and has many chess-related jobs. He produces educational video content for YouTube and Twitch, trains students online, and works as a freelance photographer and journalist, covering chess events around the world.

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