Second Sinquefield Cup Adds Players, Money, Prestige

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 7/17/14, 3:38 PM.

Last year's inaugural Sinquefield Cup was the strongest tournament ever held in the U.S. -- the average FIDE rating was above 2790. The organizers in St. Louis don't seem to know when to stop.

This year's lineup is almost complete, and the list of names has only become more impressive. The field grows from four to six players, and includes the world number 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9th players!

The 10-game double round robin will be hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and will take place from August 27 - September 7, 2014.

World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen will attempt to defend his title. Also returning is world number 2 GM Levon Aronian, who nearly stole the cup before collapsing in a last-round heartbreaker in 2013. New world number 3 (according to the live ratings) GM Fabiano Caruana, an American citizen, will play for the first time. World number 5 and official U.S. number 1 GM Hikaru Nakamura will once again attend.

World number 9 and fast-improving GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave rounds out the confirmed field. It doesn't hurt that he is St. Louis resident GM Ben Finegold's favorite player!

GM Magnus Carlsen holding the 2013 winner's cup

World number 4 GM Alexander Grischuk was reportedly contacted, but instead the club's site lists world number 6 GM Sergey Karjakin as having an invitation pending. If he accepts, and using the live ratings as of the time of this posting, that would make the tournament average an astounding and record-breaking 2803!

No category-23 event has ever been held in the U.S., and only one has ever taken place in the world. The 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge topped out at 2801.

Last year GM Hikaru Nakamura's shades became an instant talking point

As you might expect, the prize fund has also increased dramatically. The purse nearly doubles -- from $170,000 to $315,000 -- and first place goes from $70,000 to $100,000.

"The Sinquefield Cup promises to be the strongest tournament ever held," said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich. "The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is committed to providing a wonderful event to our sponsors, players and spectators from around the world."

The tournament will have only one rest day, but players will have nearly two full weeks of rest after the 2014 Chess Olympiad. If history repeats, this may again be Carlsen's last warmup event before a November World Championship Match with GM Viswanathan Anand.

The Sinquefield Cup is named in honor of Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, founders of the chess club. Rex Sinquefield is also running for FIDE treasurer on the presidential ticket of Garry Kasparov.

14590 reads 47 comments
8 votes


  • 2 years ago


    Anand is old?  I guess that makes me Methuseluh.

  • 2 years ago


    "Wesley So should be invited.  Kamsky should be there.  Ivanchuck should be the wildcard blah blah blah..."

    Stop complaining about who's not there.  We're fortunate to even witness such an elite event take place on American soil.  If you (like Sinquefield) put up $315,000 USD in prize money and over a million dollars to make the tournament happen, you can invite whoever the hell you like.  It's Sinquefield's money and it's Sinquefield's tournament.  If Sinquefield wants to invite Mickey Mouse, then Mickey Mouse it is!

  • 2 years ago


    I am definitely going to be there.  Many many thanks to the sponsors.  I am glad to see some of the international stars of chess come to the US.  

    I see no reason why US players should get any special treatment.  

    I wonder if the older players on the top 10 ask for too much money.  It is a fairly young field and I like to see a bit of the old versus young rivalary.  However, I certainly can't argue with the sponsors in getting the best rated players they can for the money.  

  • 2 years ago


    Anand is old??? I am a year or two older than he

  • 2 years ago


    Caruana is more of an American than Kamsky, flags of countries next to players' names don't mean that much.

  • 2 years ago


    Current live average ELO for the players in this tournament is 2805. 

    World numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8... This is almost certainly shaping up to be the strongest tournament in history. Given the way Maxime is playing he may be closing in on #7 by August. 

    This is certainly ideal prep for Magnus ahead of the World Championship. Almost certainly his next challenger is already in this field...

  • 2 years ago


    @TomHaegin: The US championship has nothing to do with this competition between the world's best and strongest lineup in history. Kamsky's rating is not high enough to warrent an invite from the organizers. It's as simple as that

  • 2 years ago


    Kamsky is the reigning US Champion (albeit Nakamura did not compete), so he should be invited in my opinion.

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    I like it, no old guys like Kramnik or Anand are in this one. Good.

  • 2 years ago


    go karjakin

  • 2 years ago


    Yes, this will be an exciting tournament, especially if GM Wesley So replaces GM Sergei Karjakin if the latter can't make it!

    We finally may see GM Wesley So butt heads with Carlsen, Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave, who are 4 of the young guns of chess today. Darn it, I may even fly from California to St. Louis to watch it all!

  • 2 years ago


    This should be exciting!   Let's have GM Ben Finegold's commentary for the entire match.  He's the best!

  • 2 years ago


    ... And while I'm at it :), here's the other possibility in GM Wesley So's favor:

    GMs Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave are still increasing their live ELO ratings with their participation in this month's tourneys. With their ELOs on the upswing and going higher, even with Wesley So taking Karjakin's place, it's VERY LIKELY that the tourney's average ELO rating will surpass the 2801 threshold.

  • 2 years ago


    ... And just to provide some rationale in favor of GM Wesley So's participation: This tournament's average ELO rating will be 2800 if Karjakin, for some reason, cannot participate and is replaced by Wesley So.

    The question now is: Will the tournament organizers still ignore GM Wesley So --- a St. Louis resident, who also happens to be attending a local university, and a coach of the US team to the 2014 Chess Olympiad --- because of a 0.01 or 0.02 difference in the tournament's average rating?

  • 2 years ago


    In GM Wesley So's case, his live ELO rating right now is 2757.3. He more than likely will win his last ACP game at Bergamo tomorrow, which should put his final July rating at about ELO 2760+ and a potential #11 FIDE ranking in August.

    Now, if a local St. Louis resident grandmaster rated 2760+ (and 11th or 12th in the world) isn't invited to play in a local tournament, there's something really wrong with the tournament organizer's principles and priorities.

    It's also smart to have GM Wesley So --- who happens to be one of two coaches of the US Chess Olympiad Team in Tromso this year --- in this tournament. Having Wesley So, an Asian, in the tournament reaches out and sends a loud message to Asia and the Pacific and increases this tournament's audience by the thousands.

    Let us see GM Wesley So in the 2nd Sinquefield Cup!

  • 2 years ago


    Why not invite Samford Fellow GM Daniel Naroditsky?

  • 2 years ago


    Yes ! We need Ivanchuck, the wild card!

  • 2 years ago


    Re: So would be a good addition, but that would not allow the organizers to field the strongest tournament ever. To get that 2801+ average rating, they can't afford to have So play.

    Chasing the biggest/best at the expense of a guy who lives in the host city, how very American.

    I realize Wesley isn't exactly native to the U.S., but don't we have a tradition of adopting those who live here as our own? European tournaments consistently give invites to much lower rated home towners. Part of the point of bringing in top competition is to provide experience to local guys, especially those who are trying to get to the top.

  • 2 years ago


    Kamsky's absent because he finished dead last in 2013 and was winless in the tournament.  His performance didn't exactly warrant an invite back this year.  And at this time last year, Kamsky was ranked world #11.  This year, he's not even top 30.

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