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Kasparov To Play St. Louis Rapid, Blitz

Kasparov To Play St. Louis Rapid, Blitz

In 2005, Garry Kasparov retired from competitive chess. Since then, he only played exhibition games and simuls. But now he'll be back. For real.

Kasparov at the Paris Grand Chess Tour Pro-Am day two weeks ago. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The Grand Chess Tour organizers today announced that one of the wildcards for the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz next month is...Garry Kasparov.

Kasparov, now 54, said: "It's a thrill to officially be returning to the game, and certainly not something I would have anticipated more than a decade after my retirement. Coming back to the board in St. Louis is truly an honor – I wouldn't want to commemorate this moment anywhere else."

He also immediately tweeted when the announcement was there.

During the last 12 years, Kasparov dedicated his life mostly to politics as one of Vladimir Putin's strongest critics. He also wrote a number of books, including his recent publication "Deep Thinking." The chess that he played since his retirement was always unofficial, and unrated.

Kasparov will be one of four wildcards. The other three are GMs Leinier Dominguez, Le Quang Liem, and David Navara. The six regular Grand Chess Tour participants are Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana. The prize fund is $150,000. 

"It was simply a very pleasant surprise for me, as I will be able to face a legend," Dominguez told Chess.com. "I thought that I was just not in time to face Garry but I was wrong! I am very happy about it."

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz | Participants

# Fed Title Name URS Ranking Rating* Age
1 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2 2822 29
2 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi 13 2819 26
3 GM Lenier Dominguez Wildcard 2803 33
4 GM Levon Aronian 8 2797 36
5 GM Viswanathan Anand 12 2789 47
6 GM Sergey Karjakin 10 2765 26
7 GM Le Quang Liem Wildcard 2761 26
8 GM David Navara Wildcard 2728 32
9 GM Fabiano Caruana 7 2700 24
10 GM Garry Kasparov Wildcard N/A 54

* FIDE July Rapid ratings have been used.

The Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz will be held right after the Sinquefield Cup, August 2-11 in St. Louis. The participants of that tournament are Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin, Viswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Peter Svidler.

"It's a pleasure to host the Sinquefield Cup again this year as one of the United States stops on the Grand Chess Tour," said Tony Rich, executive director of the CCSCSL. "Not only is the caliber of talent historic in this year's tournament – but the fact that legendary world champion Kasparov has chosen to come out of retirement for this inaugural Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz event is truly unprecedented."

You might wanna mark your calendar. Kasparov will be playing August 14-18, and also on the 19th for this year's Ultimate Moves event. Although the term "coming out of retirement" has been used, at the moment it is unclear whether Kasparov intends to play more official chess games after this.

Last year Kasparov participated in the Ultimate Blitz Challenge, also in St. Louis. He finished in third place, behind Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, but ahead of Fabiano Caruana. Here's the last game of that event by Kasparov, with comments from Sam Copeland.

"I'm very excited to play him again," Caruana told Chess.com. "He's going to come well prepared I suspect."

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Kasparov last year during the Ultimate Blitz. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.


Update 5 July: Chess.com received the following statement.

Garry Kasparov
5 July 2017

I'm delighted to have the chance to return to the chessboard against elite competition in St. Louis. Rapid and blitz against such a strong field will be by far my toughest test since I retired in 2005. I'm not leaving behind the very full life I've led since then, however. My family, my political activism, speaking and writing, coaching—there is little time for the dedication serious chess requires and deserves. But for me, playing in St. Louis is special, not least because it is a way to say thanks for what the Sinquefield family has done to promote the game there and worldwide, especially in education. Thanks to the Sinquefields, St. Louis has become the global chess capital and the atmosphere there is something approximating the enthusiasm and respect for chess culture back in the Soviet Union—and you can see that the results are excellent as well. I'm very comfortable there, and while I have no plans to play elsewhere I hope to do well enough to honor such a wonderful event with my chess, not just my name.


Update 8 July: Le Quang Liem responded with his comment as well.

"I am super excited at this chance to face Garry and other top players in St. Louis next month. It is truly a great honor for me, as I believe Garry is the best chess player of all time. I am also grateful to the GCT organizer for selecting me as a wildcard, and will do my best with this opportunity."

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