So, Carlsen Tie in Saint Louis Speed Event; Nakamura Third –

Grandmaster Chess

American GM Wesley So finishedtiedfor first placealongwith World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitztournament, which wrapped up last weekend.Thefive-dayevent, hosted online by the Saint Louis Chess Club, featureda $250,000 prize fundandten of the worldstop playersbattling through several round robins of both Rapid and Blitz chess.The event was salvaged asa traditional highlight of the Grand Chess Tour, otherwise canceled this year because of COVID-19.

Ive had a lot of experience in these events from the Grand Chess Tour, and I tend to lose one game after another, So said in his post-tournament interview. If I lose one game, it can snowball to a second or third loss, so I was trying to avoid that at all costs. It is often hard to compete against Magnus for first place, and generally in these blitz games, a lot of things can happen very quickly.SoIm grateful for todays win.

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courtesy SLCC /

Sohad led the tournament standings aftergoing undefeated throughthe Rapid portion of the event: Nine G/25+5 gamesplayed overthe first three days,witheachvictoryworth double in the overall standings. But theworldchampion put on a show duringthefirst round of Blitz gameson Friday,regaininga half-pointlead over Soin the standingswhile the two ran away with the tournament.Carlsen and Soheld a three-point margin over the rest of the field enteringthefinal day of blitz.

On Saturday,Sowas forced into lateaggressiveaction after otherwise turning in arelativelycalmtournament.Where the Americans play throughout had beencritiqued asextraordinarilysafe several times was he criticized for offering friendly draws in otherwise playablepositions, though he didonly losetwiceacross 27 total games--his second loss of the event came against Carlsen in the third round of Saturdays Blitz.

Carlsenenjoyeda full-point lead with only three games remainingwhen Sos aggression finally came to life. The American closed out the event with threeconsecutivevictories -- twice with the black pieces --over Russian GMIanNepomniachtchi, Armenian GM Levon Aronian and Indian GMPentalaHarikrishna. The late streak caught himup withCarlsen, whofinished the day 2/3.

Obviously, I am happy to win anything that I play, Carlsen said. I thought the overall rapid portion was successful with many good moments, and I congratulate Wesley So on a fantastic tournament. He played solidly throughout, especially with his three consecutive wins. It was an overall amazing performancethat you can only tip your hat to.

There were no tiebreaks intended for the event, and Carlsen and Sos efforts earned them each $45,000in a split of the top prizes. American GM Hikaru Nakamura, despite a rough cycle through the rapid games that left him in the middle of the pack, dazzled during the blitz portion tofinish in clear third. Nakamura collected $35,000.

The overall tournament displayed several moments of respect and sportsmanship--even levity,as shown in Nakamuras finalgame against fellow American GM Jeffrey Xiong. With the white pieces, Nakamurapulled out the famed BongcloudAttack,known as a joke opening that goes against many chess principles, beginning with2. Ke2! as Nakamura played on Saturday.All jokes aside, the offbeat opening earned a victory in 52 movesand generated discussion from Carlsenin his post-tournament"> interview. The world champion said he wasunder the impression the Bongcloud began with 1. f3 followed by 2. Kf2, and went on toshow a defensive line hehad prepared forNakamura. Analysis was a bit hazy.

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So, Carlsen Tie in Saint Louis Speed Event; Nakamura Third -

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