Carlsen Loses By Disconnect On Saint Louis Rapid Day 1
Magnus Carlsen after losing by disconnection. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Carlsen Loses By Disconnect On Saint Louis Rapid Day 1

| 40 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen shockingly lost his round-two game of the Saint Louis Rapid on time as he lost his internet connection. GM Levon Aronian and GM Pentala Harikrishna are leading with 2.5/3.

Only two days after the Chess9LX tournament finished, the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz is held online as well with six of the same players. Like in the Grand Chess Tour events, there's nine rounds of rapid on the first three days and 18 rounds of blitz on the final two days.

Round 3 Standings*

# Fed Name Rtg Pts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Aronian, Levon 2773 3042 1 2 2 5.0/6 2.5
2 Harikrishna, Pentala 2732 3033 1 2 2 5.0/6 2
3 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2784 2924 1 2 1 4.0/6 3
4 So, Wesley 2770 2920 1 1 2 4.0/6 2.25
5 Carlsen, Magnus 2863 2795 0 1 2 3.0/6
6 Firouzja, Alireza 2728 2618 0 1 1 2.0/6 1.75
7 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 2677 1 0 1 2.0/6 1.5
8 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2758 2637 0 1 1 2.0/6 1
9 Xiong, Jeffery 2709 2632 0 1 1 2.0/6 1
10 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 2484 0 0 1 1.0/6

*Rapid points count double while the blitz will see the normal 1, ½, 0.

It's a necessary evil the chess world needs to accept during the pandemic: when there's online chess, there will be losses by disconnection—and no one will be spared.

It happened to GM Ding Liren several times during the Magnus Carlsen Tour, we saw it during the Online Olympiad, and now it was the world champion himself who was the victim.

He was slightly better when it happened:

Magnus Carlsen disconnection Saint Louis Rapid
In the official broadcast, it was visible that Carlsen's camera signal first froze and then was lost completely. Images: Saint Louis Chess Club.

As commentator GM Maurice Ashley pointed out, the game will be remembered for the disconnect, while it was actually a pretty nice one by Carlsen up to that point.

The Norwegian player is the only participant on a 50-percent score after the first day. He started with a win against GM Hikaru Nakamura in what was a big clash as early as the first round. There was a remarkable tactic that could have saved the American player.

Hikaru Nakamura Saint Louis Rapid
Hikaru Nakamura. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Harikrishna had a great start in the event. In the third round, he was helped a bit by GM Alexander Grischuk, who went too far in an endgame.

"He could have taken a draw anytime he wanted, but I think his loss from the previous game might be the reason why he went all out," said Harikrishna.

The Indian grandmaster, who lives in Prague, had taken some precautions for this event and revealed that he was playing from the apartment of GM David Navara, who has a better internet connection.

"I think with online the best preparation is to make sure that your Internet connection is stable and you don’t get disconnected!" said Harikrishna.

Pentala Harikrishna Saint Louis Rapid
Pentala Harikrishna. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

The other leader also isn't playing from home. Like GM Fabiano Caruana, Aronian is already in Germany to play in the Bundesliga—an over-the-board event in Karlsruhe held September 16-19.  Unlike Caruana, the Armenian GM is combining it with the online games in the evening.

Aronian won a fabulous game against GM Alireza Firouzja in the first round.

Alireza Firouzja Saint Louis Rapid
Alireza Firouzja. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Despite what could be called an opening disaster for Aronian, he also won in round two against Grischuk.

"I was very suicidal in that particular game, but then I thought to myself: OK, I will hang on. I will do my best and since Sasha was also in some sort of time trouble, it was my hope, and it worked out so it was a very lucky break," said Aronian.

Levon Aronian Saint Louis Rapid
Levon Aronian. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Aronian also briefly discussed the variants that were explored by DeepMind's AlphaZero. He said he thought Self-Capture was the "funniest" variant, but he wants to tweak it in a way that only pieces can capture a player's own material, but not pawns. He gave this example, taken from the DeepMind paper:

As GM Vladimir Kramnik writes in the paper: "In this position, under classical rules, the game would be an easy draw for Black. In self-capture chess, however, this is a trivial win for White, who can play Bc8 and then capture the bishop with the b7 pawn, promoting to a queen!"

Aronian: "I thought the pawns shouldn’t be having this career. This is too much."

Saint Louis Rapid, Day 1 | All games

The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz is being played September 15-19 on lichess with a $250,000 prize fund. The time control is 25 minutes plus a 5-second increment for the rapid (nine rounds) and 5 minutes plus a 3-second increment for the blitz (18 rounds).

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