Top Players Return To St. Louis; 3rd Sinquefield Cup To Start Sunday

Top Players Return To St. Louis; 3rd Sinquefield Cup To Start Sunday

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Aug 19, 2015, 1:11 AM |
24 | Chess Event Coverage

With eight players from the current top 10, the third edition of the Sinquefield Cup will yet again be one of the strongest tournaments ever held. It is the second of three tournaments in the inaugural Grand Chess Tour.

The third Sinquefield Cup will be held August 22-September 3 in St. Louis. Below is our preview with all the info you need (though less musical than that of GM Ian Rogers!).

The first edition in 2013, a four-player double round-robin, was won by Magnus Carlsen ahead of Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian and Gata Kamsky.

Easier to remember is last year's edition, which went down into history as the tournament where Fabiano Caruana started with seven straight wins. He won the tournament, a six-player double round-robin, with a three-point margin.

This year the tournament is bigger than ever. The Grand Chess Tour format requires a field of 10 players, and nine of them are always the same: Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Each tournament has one wild card and for St. Louis the obvious choice was Wesley So. Together with Caruana and Nakamura he will be one of three American participants — unique for a modern elite tournament.

2015 Sinquefield Cup  | Participants

Rank Name Country Rating B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2853 1990
2 Anand, Viswanathan IND 2816 1969
3 Topalov, Veselin BUL 2816 1975
4 Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2814 1987
5 Caruana, Fabiano USA 2808 1992
6 Giri, Anish NED 2793 1994
7 So, Wesley USA 2779 1993
8 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2771 1983
9 Aronian, Levon ARM 2765 1982
10 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2731 1990

 

The tournament has the current top seven players in the world and the world number nine, 11 and 24. (In the live ratings, MVL is now world #16.) So far in chess history, only the 1938 AVRO Tournament in The Netherlands managed to bring together the eight best players in the world.

The first leg of the Grand Chess Tour, Norway Chess, was won by GM Veselin Topalov. He went off to a lucky start, when his first-round opponent Magnus Carlsen lost on time, unaware of the time control.

(As a reminder, the rate of play in all three tournaments is 40 moves in two hours, followed by the rest of the game in one hour with a 30-second increment from move 41.)

While it was a horrible start for Carlsen, Topalov continued well and emerged as the winner. Here's our interview with Topalov on the last day of play:

Earlier this week we asked whether Wesley So is ready for the Sinquefield Cup. With Norway Chess in mind, we might as well wonder if this is the case for Magnus Carlsen!

The world champion hasn't touched the chess pieces since what was the worst tournament in his professional career. Nonetheless he made the news twice: as a co-driver in Sébastien Oger's racing car, and as the first world champion to suggest changes to the world championship cycle that are against his own interest.

The latest José Diaz on Carlsen's suggestions.

On Tuesday he posted a fun video on his Facebook page from his training camp in Southampton, New York. Is that really Levon Aronian there?

 

In training. #Southhampton #SinquefieldCup

Posted by Magnus Carlsen on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Besides the world number-one and the leader of the Grand Chess tour, the three other 2800 players can also be counted among the favorites: Vishy Anand for having played excellent chess basically since losing to Carlsen in 2013, Fabiano Caruana for his track record in St. Louis and Hikaru Nakamura for having played consistently well in 2015. 

Our current poll on the Chess.com homepage asks you whether you think one of the three Americans will win. Go there and vote.

Anish Giri will be playing his first tournament as a married man. IM/WGM Sopiko Guramishvili became his wife on July 18, six days after Giri won the Dutch Championship.

 

 

It's been quiet around Alexander Grischuk, who didn't play in the China-Russia matches last month and is also absent from the Russian Championship Superfinal. That tournament concludes on Thursday, which is probably too close to the St. Louis event anyway.

Grischuk's last tournament was Norway Chess, and so was Levon Aronian'sOn July 23, the Armenian number-one posted on Facebook a link to an interview in the Argentinian magazine Generación 3.

He mentions that since he was young he has had an affection for Alekhine: “I've always liked his unrestrained attacking style.” Aronian names Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik as his most challenging opponents, so luckily for him only one is playing in St. Louis!

Apparently Aronian's girlfriend WIM Arianne Caoili has been very active! 

 The interview also includes a nice part about Petrosian:

“Tigran Petrosian always played a special role for anyone who lived or is living in Armenia, especially for a chess player. I cannot say I was much influenced by his play; his games are not easy to understand, they're very personal. He is one of those special composers, like in music. You have those people who live in their own world, with their own harmony, and they don't play according to the rules and rhythm which are common among other musicians or composers. When you look at his games, from the very start you noticed that it's a game by him; in no way you can copy him.”

The tail-ender (by rating), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, will travel to St. Louis with the positive vibes of having won his last event. The Frenchman with two names finished first in the main group of the Biel Chess Festival, and clinched that title for the fourth time in his career.

“Mr Biel,” Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

 

As always, the tournament will be covered live with an online streaming show produced by a professional production team that's been working for St. Louis events for several years now. The commentary will be hosted by GMs Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley together with WGM Jennifer Shahade.

Expect on-site coverage by FM Mike Klein, who will provide daily reports and video interviews on Chess.com.

Also, check out FM Klein's entertaining video on the 13 best moments in the young tournament's history: Watch the full video here.

2015 Sinquefield Cup  | Schedule

Date Time (all times CT) Event Location
Saturday, August 22 12:00 p.m. Autograph Session Kingside Dinner
Sunday, August 23 1:00 p.m. Round 1 CCSCSL
Monday, August 24 1:00 p.m. Round 2 CCSCSL
Tuesday, August 25 1:00 p.m. Round 3 CCSCSL
Wednesday, August 26 1:00 p.m. Round 4 CCSCSL
Thursday, August 27 1:00 p.m. Round 5 CCSCSL
Friday, August 28 N/A Rest Day N/A
Saturday, August 29 1:00 p.m. Round 6 CCSCSL
Sunday, August 30 1:00 p.m. Round 7 CCSCSL
Monday, August 31 1:00 p.m. Round 8 CCSCSL
Tuesday, September 1 1:00 p.m. Round 9 CCSCSL
Wednesday, September 2 Noon Playoff CCSCSL
Thursday, September 3 1:00 p.m. Ultimate Moves CCSCSL
Thursday, September 3 7:00 p.m. Pawn Sacrifice Screening Chase Park Plaza

Every year the Sinquefield Cup has seen some surprises not related to chess. In 2013 it was the sunglasses worn by Nakamura, and last year it was Yasser, Fabiano, and MVL all doing the ice bucket challenge. What will it be this year?

(And, also last year, MVL won a match against our vice president, IM Danny Rensch, in giant blitz. Rumor has it that MVL has accepted a new challenge from Rensch.)

After the Sinquefield Cup, the first Grand Chess Tour will conclude with the third and final leg this December in London. The total prize fund of the tour will be more than a million dollars: $300,000 from each event plus another $150,000 for the tour overall. 

Each player earns “Grand Chess Tour points," and at the end of the cycle the top three players of the whole tour will receive extra prize money: $75,000, $50,000 and $25,000.

Alongside the tournament coverage, Chess.com will provide three Sinquefield shows hosted by GM Alex Yermolinsky:

  • Special Sinquefield Cup Preview Show -- Friday, August 21 at 4 p.m. Pacific (2 hours).
  • Sinquefield Cup Highlights on the rest day -- Friday, August 28 at 10 a.m. Pacific (90 minutes) together with GM Simon Williams.
  • Sinquefield Cup Recap Show (2 hours) - Wednesday, September 2 at 4 p.m. Pacific (2 hours)
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