Carlsen, Kasparov Will Clash For The 1st Time In 16 Years
Garry Kasparov will play Magnus Carlsen for the first time since 2004. Photos: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Carlsen, Kasparov Will Clash For The 1st Time In 16 Years

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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113 | Chess Event Coverage

Two traditional tournaments organized by the Saint Louis Chess Club will be held online next month: the Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX (Sept. 11-13) and the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz (Sept. 15-19). The first tournament is a round-robin this year, meaning that GM Garry Kasparov and GM Magnus Carlsen will meet in an official event for the first time since 2004.

When the Grand Chess Tour was canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, many tournaments suddenly disappeared from the calendar. One of the tour's events has been re-instated as an online edition: the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz (more on that below).

The club also hosts a Chess960 event each year (mysteriously calling it Chess9LX), and it's nice to see that this wasn't canceled either—if only for the fact that GM Garry Kasparov will again participate!

Online chess was never a big thing for The Boss during his career, partly because there were far fewer online events organized in the first place. This tournament seems to be his first official online event since his retirement.

Among Kasparov's rivals will be the world number one and two of classical chess, GMs Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, as well as the reigning Chess960 World Champion Wesley So and the Iranian prodigy GM Alireza Firouzja.

Last year the format was one-on-one matches, but this year the tournament is a round-robin. This means Kasparov will be playing against all nine participants, including Carlsen. This will be a historic clash—albeit online, albeit Chess960—as the two world champions only faced each other in one previous event. That was also rapid and blitz chess, and it took place back in 2004 in Reykjavik, when Carlsen was 13 years old and Kasparov 41, a year before he would retire.

In 2017, when Kasparov played in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament, he could have faced Carlsen as well, but it happened to be an event in which the Norwegian didn't play, coincidentally or not.

In Chess960, the starting position is different than in regular chess. While the pawns' positions remain the same, with White's pawns all on the second rank and Black's pawns on the seventh, minor (knights and bishops) and major pieces (rooks, king and queen) are placed semi-randomly on the first and last ranks. More about Chess960 (or Fischerrandom) can be found here.

The tournament will be held online on September 11-13 with three rounds per day. The players will learn what starting position they'll play only three minutes before the round. The time control is 20 minutes plus a 10-second increment. The total prize fund is $150,000. 

Champions Showdown: Chess9LX | Participants

# Fed Name Classical Rank B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2863 1 1990
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2835 2 1992
3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2778 5 1990
5 Aronian, Levon 2773 7 1982
4 So, Wesley 2770 8 1993
6 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2758 14 1983
7 Nakamura, Hikaru 2736 18 1987
8 Firouzja, Alireza 2728 22 2003
9 Svidler, Peter 2723 25 1976
10 Kasparov, Garry 2812 - 1963

Right after this tournament, the Saint Louis Chess Club continues with another event, and for that, it's back to regular chess.

The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz will be held September 15-19 and follows the standard schedule of such events in the Grand Chess Tour: first, three days of rapid with three rounds per day (25 minutes plus a 25-second increment) followed by two days of blitz with nine rounds per day (five minutes plus a three-second increment). The total prize fund is $250,000. 

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz | Participants

# Fed Name Classical Rank B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2863 1 1990
2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2784 4 1990
3 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 6 1983
4 Aronian, Levon 2773 7 1982
5 So, Wesley 2770 8 1993
6 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2758 14 1983
7 Nakamura, Hikaru 2736 18 1987
8 Harikrishna, Pentala 2732 20 1986
9 Firouzja, Alireza 2728 22 2003
10 Xiong, Jeffery 2709 32 2000

Games will start daily at 1:00 p.m. St. Louis time (GMT-5) which is 11:00 a.m. Pacific time and 20:00 Central European time. Both tournaments will include expert commentary to choose from:

  • The regular St. Louis team: GMs Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade;
  • WFM Alexandra Botez (Botezlive) together with GM Robert Hess (GMHess);
  • IM Levy Rozman (Gothamchess) and IM Anna Rudolf (Anna_Chess) on Nakamura's channel (GMHikaru).
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