Fire, Water, Sport During Sinquefield Rest Day

Fire, Water, Sport During Sinquefield Rest Day

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2014 Sinquefield Cup's lone "rest day" was just a clever name for most of the field. Interviews, athletics and one spectacular artistic exhibit filled the day.

What do you do if you're playing the perfect tournament? GM Fabiano Caruana began the day with interviews, then went swimming.

The world champion, GM Magnus Carlsen, chose a round of golf (he had already played soccer prior to the first day).

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, a devotee of table tennis and follower of tennixs's U.S. Open, chose to play tennis with chess club founder Rex Sinquefield and this reporter.

I can report that his backhand is balky but his speed saves him on many occassions. Pro tip: attack his second serve.

MVL, a huge fan of Roger Federer, runs down a ball deep behind the baseline.
Rex Sinquefield, days shy of his 70th birthday, still gets around the court quite well.
GM Magnus Carlsen took advantage of the mild weather (photo: Kaja Snare of TV2).

But what of the commentators? GM Yasser Seirawan fulfilled his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but not before bracing for impact.

"The Yaz" knew what was coming, having seen other chess players complete the challenge in St. Louis.

Here's how he took the frigid bathing:

Just prior to the West side of Maryland Avenue getting doused, Vachier-Lagrave completed his challenge on the opposite sidewalk. He sat beneath the world's largest chess piece and awaited his fate.

Who knows? Maybe it's the secret to winning five games in a row. Caruana's case study certainly didn't hurt. 

As you heard, much of the chess elite are getting drenched thanks to a single catalyst -- GM Anish Giri. MVL took the liberty of nominating five candidates instead of the normal three, but hey, 2700s get special treatment in lots of ways.

As you also heard, one of those "on the clock" is now our own IM Danny Rensch.

UPDATE: IM/WGM Sopiko Guramishvili "completed" MVL's challenge, sort of.

As evening fell, all six players' paths converged at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The third installation of "The Burning Boards" by artist Glenn Kaino took place in a blacked-out room.

As if they needed it, all the GMs were given White.

Candles were ersatz pieces as chess professionals matched with artists. In a night where two disparate subcultures coalesced, the levity contrasted greatly with the first five rounds of the tournament.

Tournament leader GM Fabiano Caruana...
...actually stalemated his opponent (you're going to have to trust him on this one). There goes his perfect score!

Kaino wanted to show the impermanence of objects and the ever-changing nature of the rules we live by. Players were encouraged to form their own fire-based rules, but it was generally agreed that extinguised flames and immobilized pieces were both out of the game.

Only the heights of the pieces differentiated them, so as games dragged on and candles burned lower, a good memory was required.

MVL played "The Immortal Wax Game" -- see for yourself.

Just after the next photo was taken, a funny incident occurred. 

WGM Jennifer Shahade had actually played "The Burning Boards" at a prior installation.

Just after Shahade delivered a pretty dovetail mate, she laughed hard enough to blow out her own king. "But it was mate on the board!" she joked.

GM Magnus Carlsen and the other five players participated.
GM Levon Aronian using the provided tongs.
Without a known dominant strategy, some players invented their own systems. One idea was to move your own king every few turns so the wax didn't drip and affix him forever!
GM Hikaru Nakamura with his own version of "Fire on Board."
20. Kd2! was especially deep Smile.
Moves in the center of the board were especially hazardous to those in long sleeves.
MVL and Caruana -- shirt sleeves are not recommended when fire is involved.
The 2014 Sinquefield Cup -- even St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is tweeting about it. will embed the official commentary at 2 p.m. Central (GMT -6) for every round. The games resume Tuesday, September 2.

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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