Kasparov To Face Caruana, Nakamura, So In Ultimate Blitz Challenge

Kasparov To Face Caruana, Nakamura, So In Ultimate Blitz Challenge

| 84 | Chess Event Coverage

For the first time since his retirement in 2005, Garry Kasparov will play chess against some of the best players on the planet.

The 13th world champion agreed to meet the top three finishers of the 2016 U.S. Championship in a blitz tournament. That turned out to be the top three seeds, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So.

GM Garry Kasparov spoke at the U.S. Championship closing ceremonies Tuesday night. He said the support for chess in St. Louis reminded him of the sport's glory in Soviet days.

The Ultimate Blitz Challenge, a special exhibition tournament, will be held on Thursday April 28 and Friday April 29 at the  Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. On both days you can watch the games live on the US Chess Champs website starting from 12:50 p.m., which is 7:50 p.m. CEST, 1:30 p.m. New York and 10:50 a.m. Pacific.

In a way it's a historic event: For the first time in 11 years, Garry Kasparov will play against three players from the current top 10 if we take the April FIDE rating list for classical chess. 


  • The four players will face each other in three round-robins per day, for a total of 18 games.
  • There will be small breaks between rounds (1-2 minutes) and longer breaks between each round-robin (10-15 minutes).
  • The time control will be game in five minutes with a three-second delay (not increment).

Prize Fund

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis via its main benefactor Rex Sinquefield, provides a total prize fund of $50,000 for the blitz event. Garry Kasparov has generously offered to donate his prize winnings to support the U.S. Olympiad team. In the event of tied final scores, prizes will be divided evenly.

The prizes will be awarded as follows:

  • 1st: $20,000
  • 2nd: $15,000
  • 3rd: $10,000
  • 4th: $ 5,000

Who will win?

Kasparov has played a few blitz events since he retired, for instance against Anatoly Karpov in 2009 and several matches against Nigel Short. Last year he defeated Short 8.5-1.5. This time it will be different, with Kasparov (53) playing three top players all half his age or less. (It may be noted that Bobby Fischer was four years younger than Kasparov now, when Fischer played Boris Spassky in 1992 in Sveti Stefan!)

After he finished his game in the final round of the U.S. Championship, Hikaru Nakamura spoke with Maurice Ashley about facing Kasparov.

You can watch this interview at 2:37:09.

Nakamura: “It shall be interesting to see how Garry does against us.”
Ashley: “How Garry does against you guys as opposed to how you do against Garry? The trash talking starts early!”
Nakamura: “If you look at something like basketball, people try to say Steph Curry is better than Michael Jordan. Just looking at the different eras of players especially in chess, it should be interesting. A lot of people seem to think that with every passing generation players are just simply better than the previous generation. That's why I think it will be more interesting from Garry's point of view than from ours.”
Ashley: “Because you're supposed to be better.”
Nakamura: “We're supposed to be but many people consider him the best player ever, so it will be interesting at any rate. It will be fun.”

Nakamura and Ashley talking about the Ultimate Blitz Challenge.

Kasparov, who was sitting in the studio a few meters away, said that he was happy to see that Nakamura eventually finished in the top three of the U.S. Championship. "I want to see how I will do against one of the best blitz players in the world.” About his chances, he only said: “Whether they're better or not, you know, God knows, but they're definitely much younger!”

GM Fabiano Caruana was all smiles at last night's closing ceremony...

...for 50,000 reasons. (Left is club founder Rex Sinquefield and right is St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay).

Who do you think will win the Ultimate Blitz Challenge? Let us know in the comments or in the poll on our homepage.

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