Kasparov, Other Elites, And The Sinquefields Take 'Ultimate Moves' To Overtime

Kasparov, Other Elites, And The Sinquefields Take 'Ultimate Moves' To Overtime

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

If self-deprecating humor was in the Olympics, the Sinquefields would have joint golds.

Saint Louis Chess Club Founder Rex Sinquefield and son Randy Sinquefield (owner of the video production house Spectrum Studios that runs the live shows) got off the sidelines and joined a dozen top-level players for the post-Sinquefield Cup tradition, Ultimate Moves.

The setting was more akin to "coffee-house chess," but the players were (mostly) world-class.

In reality, about 85 percent of the moves were "ultimate," as the two amateurs were forced into playing about one move out of every seven in this afternoon's event.

Joining them were the 10 players from the Sinquefield Cup, former World Champion GM Garry Kasparov, and tournament commentator GM Yasser Seirawan.

The defending champion: Team Rex (plus Caruana, who arrived late) | Photos by Lennart Ootes.

The format was simple enough. Each team of seven players would take turns having a single member make five moves per sitting, then he would arise, and the next teammate in the batting order would sit down. The schedule called for six games of five minutes with a three-second delay. The rotation stayed the same throughout the afternoon, but the colors reversed each game.

In order of play, "Team Rex" was Rex Sinquefield (moves 1-5) and GMs Kasparov (6-10), Fabiano Caruana (11-15), Hikaru Nakamura (16-20), Anish Giri (21-25), Ding Liren (26-30), and Peter Svidler (31-35).

"Team Randy" was Randy Sinquefield (moves 1-5) and GMs Wesley So (6-10), Viswanathan Anand (11-15), Veselin Topalov (16-20), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (21-25), Levon Aronian (26-30), and Seirawan (31-35).

After the 35th move, the rotation came back around to the Sinquefields, and so forth. This also meant that the amateurs were responsible for critical moments. Often decisions to make about the nature of endgames came about in the mid-30s, which is also when the clock became a factor.

FIDE rules were roughly in play—Last year an illegal promotion caused a forfeit. There were some obvious exceptions. Most notable was the kibitzing that took place. Officially, moves weren't allowed to be proffered, but there was a high amount of immediate post-move banter and trash-talking. 

"We're gonna crush them," Rex said about his son's team. However, he admitted last week to that Randy had recently defeated him on this web site for the first time.

The challengers: Team Randy.

High-level analysis isn't too insightful in a blitz game played by fourteen players with two amateurs, but nevertheless, we will highlight at least one critical moment per game.

Midway through game one, Seirawan joked, "We had it in our computer this morning," about Kasparov's offbeat Spanish. "This is a positional masterpiece," teammate Aronian said. They may have won the jokes, but Team Rex took the opening game:

In game two, another forfeit was very nearly in the offing. So, fresh off his win in the main event, castled queenside with two hands. He realized right away what he had done, and he reversed his maneuver before he had pressed the clock. The second time, he castled with only one hand, and nothing was amiss.

In the game itself, Rex originally spotted White a few tempos, but Black came all the way back only to blunder on Svidler's first move of his sequence. The captain, Randy, played the final assault with aplomb, to the rousing cheers of his teammates as he forced resignation.

Randy Sinquefield (right) executes the only winning move against father, Rex. Let's hope he's still in the will!

With the score tied at one, game three was the only one that was essentially decided in the opening. There was also some gamesmanship.

Rex made his fifth move as White and got up from the board. Kasparov took his place in the chair. Randy started to get up, only to be reminded that he had yet to make the fifth move for Black.

With Randy now slightly flustered, Kasparov took the chance to point and raise his arms up in the same way that an adult pretend-scares a child. All in good fun, but against the best player of all time, many of us would blunder too!

One of the GMs tried to assuage the situation for his team by saying that Randy's final move was a "Marshall," since in that gambit, Black also gambits his e5-pawn via a ...d5 advance in the Spanish. On the other team, Giri replied, "Marshall just turned around in his grave."

The scene just before Randy's blunder. What's more intimidating? Kasparov putting his watch back on or him pointing at you?

After a short break, the seesaw was put back in motion as Team Randy evened things back up for a second time. This time, it was his father that returned the favor, also on his final move of the second rotation.

The dwindling clock helped contribute to Rex's error, and Team Randy got ahead on time again in game five. The result was a near carbon-copy, except that this time, Rex just left a rook en prise as his time ticked below 30 seconds.

Yasser Seirawan: chess grandmaster, commentator, magazine publisher, author, organizer, diplomat, and now, cheerleader. 

Now ahead 3-2, Team Randy needed only a draw as White in the final game to clinch victory. But in the history of chess, has the turn to play White ever meant so little?

The team went to the third rotation of players for this one, but Black never really let his foot off the gas.

Announcer GM Maurice Ashley said there would be no way they'd allow the match to end in a tie (also his personal crusade!). The rules were tweaked for one final game, with maximum mayhem.

The players got 10 minutes a side but rotated after every single move. Rex and Randy would thus make moves 1, 8, 15, 22, and so forth, and the other players would compete in the same order as above.

After the chairs were ditched, it was on. Standing-room only for the finals:

"In the last game, he only made great moves," Kasparov said about his friend and team captain, Rex.

Better than winning the world championship? You don't get to win many games standing up!

Team Rex defended their crown, and his family's honor, with the 4-3 win. Team Randy can be proud at this year's Thanksgiving Dinner that he greatly narrowed the 6-2 margin from last year.

More from FM MikeKlein
Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

Ian Nepomniachtchi On The World Chess Championship

New ChessKid Adventure App Released

New ChessKid Adventure App Released