2015 Sinquefield Cup (St. Louis, USA)

It will be steaming hot in St. Louis over the next couple of weeks. Actually the weather is quite pleasant, but the world best chess players will set the boards ablaze in one of the strongest tournaments on American soil. The third Sinquefield Cup will commence on August 23rd with the Opening Ceremonies and drawing of colors.

This third iteration will be hosted by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL), dubbed the “capital of American chess”. This will be the second event of the Grand Chess Tour and will expand to feature ten of the world’s top players. Veselin Topalov won the inaugural event in Norway two months ago. The last event will be the London Classic in December.

According to the official press release:

The total prize fund for 2015 Grand Chess Tour is $1,050,000. Each leg of the tour will award individual prize funds of $300,000. Competitors also are tallying points from each leg of the circuit towards a prize fund of $150,000; the overall tour champion will receive an additional $75,000.

The angle of the story centers around the excitement of the three marquee players representing the U.S. in Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and tournament wild card Wesley So. While Caruana won last year’s Sinquefield Cup, this is his first home tournament representing the U.S. flag. There will certainly be a lot of excitement and press coverage as the momentum continues to blossom in American chess.

Fabiano Caruana started with a blistering 7/7 last year enroute to an impression win, but the star-studded field will certainly be ready to take the mantle away. Photo by uschesschamps.com.

Fabiano Caruana started with a blistering 7/7 last year enroute to an impression win, but the star-studded field will certainly be ready to wrest away his champion’s reign. Photo by uschesschamps.com.

While World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian are returnees, there are a number of newcomers to the Sinquefield Cup. Joining last year’s six players from last year will be former World Champion Viswanathan Anand, Anish Giri, wild card nominee Wesley So and Russian superstar Alexander Grischuk.

The autograph session was held today and the first round will start at 1:00pm Central Time USA. Games will start at 1:00pm St. Louis (11:00am Los Angeles, 2:00pm New York, 7:00pm London, 9:00pm Moscow). Live commentary will be given by an eminent line-up of Maurice Ashley, Jennifer Shahade, Yasser Seirawan, Ben Finegold, Robert Hess, Alejandro Ramirez and Ian Rogers. For more information, visit www.grandchesstour.com or follow along at @CCSCSL.

2015 Sinquefield Cup
August 22nd – September 3rd, 2015 (St. Louis, USA)
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (4657 Maryland Ave.)

Players
Rank Name Rating Country Flag Age
No. 1 GM Magnus Carlsen 2853 Norway
24
No. 2 GM Viswanathan Anand 2816 India
45
No. 3 GM Veselin Topalov 2816 Bulgaria
40
No. 4 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2814 USA
27
No. 5 GM Fabiano Caruana 2808 USA
23
No. 6 GM Anish Giri 2793 Netherlands
21
No. 7 GM Wesley So 2779 USA
21
No. 9 GM Alexander Grischuk 2771 Russia
31
No. 11 GM Levon Aronian 2765 Armenia
32
No. 24 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2731 France
24
Official Site

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

56 Comments

  1. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #1 – Sunday, 23 August 2015
    1 Carlsen, M
    NOR
    0-1
    Topalov, V
    BUL
    2 Nakamura, H
    USA
    1-0
    Anand, V
    IND
    3 Aronian, L
    ARM
    1-0
    Caruana, F
    USA
    4 Giri, A
    NED
    1-0
    Grischuk, A
    RUS
    5 So, W
    USA
    0-1
    Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    Official Site

    “Fire in St. Louis… boards ablaze at Sinquefield Cup”

    At the first Grand Tour event a couple of months ago in Norway there were four decisive games in the first round including a shocking loss of Magnus Carlsen at the hands of Veselin Topalov. The World Champion inexplicably forgot the time control and lost on time in a winning position. In the first round of the Sinquefield Cup, Topalov left no doubt as to who was going for the initiative in this game. Shock waves were created almost immediately in the Sicilian Rossolimo when the Bulgarian threw 7…g5!!? on the board. This caused Carlsen to go into the tank for 20 minutes. This position was not in the databases, but analyses showed that black had enough play for the pawn and so they went.

    After 8.Nxg5 Ne5 9.Be2 bxc4 10.Na3!? Rg8 11.Nxc4 Nxc4 12.d4 attempting to pry on the center. However, Carlsen did not appear to have enough initiative for the piece after 17.e5? (17.Nxf8! would have forced an imbalanced endgame). All of a sudden black’s pieces were zipping around the board like bullets and white was forced to give up any chances for gaining an attack. Ultimately, some forced exchanged brought Topalov a winning advantage and he deftly snared the point.

    Perhaps the best game of the round was featured in Aronian-Caruana. Aronian has hit a rough patch in the past year diving 40 ELO points. However, he appeared to be in good form as he blitzed the first 11 moves to the surprise of the commentators. Everyone assume this “bullet” pace must be brought by intense home-preparation. Indeed it was.

    “Modern chess” pawn structures was the theme in round one as these elite players were showing some very interesting ideas.

    Well… Caruana got tired of being prepped and uncorked 15…g5!!? Another “exotic move”? Commentator Maurice Ashley marveled at the pawn structure of black (see 1:01:15) and Jennifer Shahade quipped that it come from Paul Keres’ books. That was an understatement after looking at the position on the right. Perhaps Hans Kmoch’s “Pawn Power in Chess” would be more appropriate. However, the impressive mass of pawns was an illusion.

    Ashley talked about “keeping the tension” and not blinking, but after developing the wall of pawns, Caruana could not resist and played 20…dxe4? releasing the tension and allowing white to seize the initiative. Like a pack of hyenas homing in on a wildebeest, white’s pieces started lurking around the black king for the kill. There were a number of beautiful mating patterns discussed as Aronian calmly donated a rook (or two) for the chance.

    The Armenian got a bit sloppy and missed some sure-fire shots to end the suffering. Well… hyenas don’t kill quickly like a lion, so maybe the metaphor was correct. When asked about this Aronian with his Cheshire cat smile said he was taught to take everything because you may not see the mate. Interesting! Being a hyena rather than a lion probably has its upside, but Aronian deserved the point even if he was not precise. There would be no magical result for Caruana.

    In Nakamura-Anand, the America was going to see if he could maintain his dominance over the former World Champion. The game was very intense with Nakamura holding a slight edge. It appeared the game was heading for a draw when Anand played 35…f5, a move he considered to be dubious. White was able to win a crucial pawn and surprisingly Anand resigned without playing the ending on further.

    The newly-married Anish Giri had an impressive result over the beleaguered Alexander Grischuk when the Russian fell into what has become habitual time pressure. Grischuk spent an inordinate time on 19…Nb6?! giving white a serious initiative after 20.Re3! White sacrificed an exchange to obtain a vice-grip on the position. Then he sacrificed another exchange for good measure for a scintillating attack and after 32.Bxh7+ Kf8 33. Qe2 Rc1 34.Qh5, black’s king was ambushed… this time like a lion.

    Lastly, So-Vachier-Lagrave was an interesting encounter that raised some question about the Filipino’s preparation. In the “confession room” MVL felt confident about a pawn sacrifice. So played a number of befuddling moves and violated principles to maintain consistent with the theme of the round… break old principles of chess. Unlike Topalov’s …g5 and Caruana’s …g5, no one seemed to understand why So moved shuttled his pieces around the board to win a pawn. He ended up feasting himself to death as black’s initiative netted him an exchange and soon a dominating position on the weakened white king. The rooks were poised to barrel into the white kingside like a battering ram.

    Full Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/08/22/2015-sinquefield-cup-st-louis-usa/

  2. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #3 – Tuesday, 25 August 2015
    1 Anand, V
    IND
    ½-½
    Topalov, V
    BUL
    2 Aronian, L
    ARM
    ½-½
    Giri, A
    NED
    3 Carlsen, M
    NOR
    1-0
    Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    4 So, W
    USA
    1-0
    Grischuk, A
    RUS
    5 Nakamura, H
    USA
    ½-½
    Caruana, F
    USA
    Official Site

    Carlsen closes on Topalov!
    Nakamura-Carlsen battle to draw.

    Not orange juice, but Magnus Carlsen is going with the pure basics.

    Today’s games at the Sinquefield Cup were not as bloody as in the two previous rounds, but there were some tense moments. Topalov could not live up to his new nickname of “unstopalov”, but still holds a narrow lead. Meanwhile Magnus Carlsen notched his second win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who confessed that he was in a “not so unpleasant situation with Magnus.”

    Sure enough, Carlsen fought to a slow and grinding positional slog. MVL was saddled with an “isolani” and that was the defining characteristic of the position. Eventual that pawn fell and Carlsen kept creating new problems. However, there was a moment in the game where Maurice Ashley felt the World Champion slipped after 39.g4 Nh4.

    Carlsen said in the press conference that he had to get the h-pawn to eliminate the threat around his king. Of course there would be no 40.a7?? Nf3+ 41.Kh1 Rxf1 mate. Instead Carlsen corralled the h3-pawn and a couple of moves later MVL resigned with a healthy white pawn sprinting for a6-a7-a8(Q). With the win, Carlsen is putting together another tournament of streaks.

    The only other decisive game was Wesley So’s win over Alexander Grischuk. It was their first encounter. The Russian fell into time pressure once again, but it didn’t seem like he was that much worse in the game except for a space disadvantage.

    Wesley So got his first win in the tournament!

    Wesley So got his first win in the tournament!
    Photos by Lennart Ootes (for CCSCSL).

    After 28.f4, white started to increase the advantage. Even after black undermined the center with 29…f5, it did not release the grip. In fact, it may have made things worse. All of black’s pawns ended up weakened and the position was completely losing. Grischuk resigned rather than suffer a long ending defending a shattered position. Some felt he should have played on longer.

    In the three draws, there were tough battles including an All-American battle between #1 and #2 players, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. This game was a Grunfeld that featured a daring Benko-like pawn sacrifice with 8…b5!? Black certainly got adequate compensation for the pawn after 9.Nxb5 Bxb5 10.Qxb5+ Nbd7 11.g3 Rb8 12.Qa4 Bg7. You put the black a7-pawn on d6 and you have a regular Benko Gambit.

    As the game wore on, it became apparent that black had full compensation after sacrificing yet another pawn. Caruana played the cunning 16…Qc8 threatening to trap the queen. He continued to harass the queen and actually got an imposing passed c-pawn after 29…c4. In fact, the commentators were buzzing about the strength of the c-pawn.

    Caruana did miss the suggestion of the engine after 30.Ng5 of 30…c3! Even then black never seem to have more than a slight pull. In fact, black’s initiative dissipated quickly and a rather drawish ending ensued. One fan on chess24.com stated that Caruana’s opening prep was superb, but his transition from opening to middlegame to endings are problems needing improvement. Hard to critique a player who has the third highest all-time rating.

    In Aronian-Giri, the Armenian came into the “confession booth” to talk about his choice of 16.exf3!? The engines did not approve, but he looked at the camera with glee and said, “It should be fun!” Indeed it was, but he was unable to get anything concrete. The game was most likely level at move 30, but they played a dozen more moves before shaking hands.

    Standings after Round 3

    1st: Veselin Topalov, 2½; 2nd-4th: Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, 2; 5th-7th: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura, 1½; 8th: Alexander Grischuk, 1; 9th-10th: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, ½.

    1. oh Rd. 8 Ultrathanks Daaim didnt know, how do yall think he will do? Do u think naka learned anything since their last practice games? UM at the Buffalo Public Library checkin out the top traditional guys chess.

  3. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #4 – Wednesday, 26 August 2015
    1 Grischuk, A
    RUS
    ½-½
    Topalov, V
    BUL
    2 Giri, A
    NED
    ½-½
    Carlsen, M
    NOR
    3 So, W
    USA
    0-1
    Aronian, L
    ARM
    4 Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    ½-½
    Nakamura, H
    USA
    5 Caruana, F
    USA
    ½-½
    Anand, V
    IND
    Official Site

    Levon Aronian rocks Wesley So
    with scintillating attack!

    The Sinquefield Cup is finally simmering down a bit as round four saw four draws with two being decided at move 30. It turns out that many were expecting a bruising round with a Najdorf (Grischuk-Topalov) and Sveshnikov (Giri-Carlsen) on the boards. In actuality, these were the two games ending quickly. Grischuk got nothing out of the opening and it was thought that his best chance was 19.Bb3 to maintain central pressure. After 19.Bxf6 the game was simply drawn.

    Giri may have missed a chance.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes (for CCSCSL).

    In the pressure conference, Grischuk talked about his inability to remember the proper continuation, but opined that it is better not to remember anything rather than to remember something vaguely. Pearls of wisdom for sure. In the Girl-Carlsen there was a slight pull in the position for Giri, but there was no way to capitalize on his slight advantage. Carlsen has been underwhelming thus far, but is still only half-point out of the lead.

    Hikaru Nakamura is still only one point behind Topalov and his game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was one he was not happy with. In the confession, he mentioned not being happy with the way the game was evolving. He stated that he want something a bit more exciting “win or lose”. He almost got his wish as MVL was missed a big opportunity with 25.Re2-g2 manuever. The middlegame exploded into fireworks and when the smoke cleared, Nakamura was two pawns to the good.

    The problem was that in an opposite colored ending, MVL had established a blockade and they shook hands. In Caruana-Anand, the game appeared to be quite balanced throughout with no clear pull on either side. Fast forward to move 30.axb5 white has developed some plusses on the queenside, but the blockade stops progress. The game ended in a tactical flurry after 34.b6 axb6 35. cxb6 Rxd5 36. Qxd5 Qxd5 37.b7 d3 38.b8(Q) d2 and white would have to forget about using his exchange advantage. Anand’s 41…Be3! was a very instructive way to secure the draw.

    The game of the round was undoubtedly the most spectacular thus far. Levon Aronian has been in good form in this tournament and demonstrated this in his game against Wesley So. In what combined the principles of the Nimzo and Benoni, Aronian’s attack was so instructive in so many ways. Starting with 10…Nh5!? 11.g3 Nd7 12.Bg2 b5 with play on both sides of the board. What resulted was pure devastation. The piece sack 15…Ne5! was bold, yet natural. So faced with a raging attack on the king panicked with 16.Be1 instead of gobbling the knight and praying. He did take the knight later, but at the cost of his king being ripped open.

    Aronian capped off an energetic attack with several body blows (15…Ne5! 19…Nd4! 23…b3!) and then a knockout punch (28…Qf4!). The game was a gem and shows that Aronian is in top form.

    Aronian, who prepared by studying Tigran Petrosian’s games, must have adding a few from Mikhail Tal. His 19…Nd4! 20.Nxd4 cxd4 and white’s pieces are completely flat-footed. After 23…b3! black’s laser bishops sliced across the board leaving white’s king is in a complete crossfire. In fact, the engines did not appreciate b3 offering Bxh5 instead. While Aronian did miss the spectacular 25…Rc2! he later found a nice pattern with 27…Qg5+ 29.Kf1 Qf4! So had seen enough. Beautiful execution!

    Standings after Round 4:

    1st-2nd: Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, 3; 3rd-4th: Anish Giri, Magnus Carlsen, 2½; 5th-6th: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, 2; 7th-8th: Wesley So, Alexander Grischuk, 1½; 9th-10th: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, 1.

  4. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #5 – Thursday, 27 August 2015
    1 Topalov, V
    BUL
    0-1
    Caruana, F
    USA
    2 Aronian, L
    ARM
    ½-½
    Grischuk, A
    RUS
    3 Nakamura, H
    USA
    ½-½
    Giri, A
    NED
    4 Carlsen, M
    NOR
    1-0
    So, W
    USA
    5 Anand, V
    IND
    ½-½
    Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    Official Site

    Topalov falls… Carlsen surges to joint first!

    Magnus pondering his next move... which was 44.c3.

    Magnus pondering his next move… which was 44.c3.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Magnus Carlsen has rebounded after his first-round loss winning against Wesley So after a protracted struggle. Despite missing a rather trivial win, the world champion kept his composure and got a technical win in a rook ending. Meanwhile, So is struggling and sits on -2.

    In this Be3 Najdorf, the game went along normal route until Carlsen tried a speculative move sacrificing a pawn for pressure on the white squares. He was able to maintain compensation and slowly developed an initiative on the kingside getting a pawn phanlanx of f4-g5-h6. Meanwhile So’s king proved to be exposed and Carlsen started working on his advantage of the good knight versus bad bishop. The move 38.Nd8! was a gem, but Carlsen missed the winning 40.Nxc5! when black is losing by force.

    After 41.Qg8+ Kd7 42.Qxh7+ white’s pawn on h6 has to constantly be watched which totally uncoordinated black’s forces. As black went over to stop the white pawn, Carlsen had a buffet to black’s other pawns. Despite missing better moves it was an impressive win indeed. Carlsen now shares the lead with Veselin Topalov who lost to Fabiano Caruana.

    Intensity reigned at end of Round #5 with two decisive games.

    Intensity reigned at end of Round #5 with two decisive games.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    In game where first-place and last-place were meeting, Topalov got very adventurous and sacrificed a rook for several pawns. However, some deft moves by Caruana forced a simplification and it was (as they say) a matter of technique.

    All other games were drawn. Alexander Grischuk had a slight edge against Levon Aronian, but frittered it away in time pressure. Hikaru Nakamura, wearing his Motown baseball cap from his recent trip to Detroit, faced Anish Giri’s Taimanov and applied immense pressure. With Giri’s king wading in the center of the board, he conjured up enough resources to draw. Nakamura could not press for a win lest he risk getting mated in a number of ways. Anand-Vachier-Lagrave entered a Najdorf 6.Be2 variation where a middlegame skirmish produced nothing of consequence.

    Standings after Round 5:

    1st-2nd: Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, 3½; 3rd-4th: Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri, 3; 5th-6th: Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, 2½; 7th-8th: Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, 2; 9th-10th: Viswanathan Anand, Wesley So, 1½.

  5. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #6 – Saturday, 29 August 2015
    1 Aronian, L
    ARM
    ½-½
    Carlsen, M
    NOR
    2 Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    1-0
    Topalov, V
    BUL
    3 Giri, A
    NED
    ½-½
    Anand, V
    IND
    4 So, W
    USA
    0-1
    Nakamura, H
    USA
    5 Grischuk, A
    RUS
    1-0
    Caruana, F
    USA
    Official Site

    Nakamura uncorks brilliancy… now #2 on Live List!

    Aside from the “damp squib” that the Aronian-Carlsen turned out to be, the Nakamura-So was in striking contrast. Two members of the U.S. elite facing off and certainly Hikaru Nakamura is working hard to show that he is still the #1 player. After Wesley So’s brief resurgence to the top 10, he had been having a rough tournament.

    With his ubiquitous Red Bull drink nearby, Nakamura plays Ne7 in what became a game to remember! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    With his ubiquitous Red Bull drink nearby, Nakamura plays Ne7 in what became a game to remember! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    In this King’s Indian Defense, So started off blitzing the first 20 moves and seemed very confident in his preparation. In fact, after white’s 15.Rc1, the engines gave white a +1.60 evaluation. After the game, Nakamura cautioned against these types of assessments and showed why.

    Nakamura unleashes attack with 24…h4 and So panicked after 25.fxe4 f3! 26.gxf3 Nxe4!

    In this type of game it is white queenside initiative versus black’s kingside attack on the king. Which would get there first? As both executed campaigns on the wings, So seemed to be uncertain as to what to do on the queenside, but Nakamura certainly knew what to do! After 24…h4 it appeared that the black pawns were coming like “Space Invaders” and white needed to counter quickly. So took the bait with 25.fxe4 f3! 26.gxf3 Nxe4! and after thinking a half hour, So played 27.Rd1. There was no other move as 27.fxe4 lost in a raft of beautiful variations similar to what happened in the game. There was however a chance that Nakamura would overreach. Would the handsome gazelle get away from the ferocious lion?

    However, after a 30-minute think, white could not stave off the black onslaught after 27.Rd1 Rxf3! 28.Rxd7 Rf1+ 29.Kg2. The beginning of the end was Nakamura’s 29…Be3! but there was the stunning alternate sequence 29…h3+ 30.Kxh3 Rf2!! when 31.Bxf2 Qxf2 32.Nxf2 Nf4+ 33.Kh4 Bg5#(!!) In the post-game press conference, Nakamura was shown the variation and seemed humorously disappointed that he missed a chance at such a fantasy ending. Nevertheless, the game ended in a picturesque way with So showing enough class to allow checkmate on the board.

    While the Nakamura brilliancy sent the fans buzzing, there were other games that were thrilling as well. The Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave rose to the challenge of the Berlin Wall and played in very fine style. One would wonder that after all the theory that has been seen in this line, how a player of Veselin Topalov’s caliber could fall in such dire straits.

    The key moment came after MVL played 18.e6! which was designed to destroy black’s structure and exploit the grip on the dark squares. Fast forward to 33.f5! black played 33…Nf8 when the counter-intuitive 33…Nh8 may have been a bit better. White ended up raided the black kingside pawns and ended up with an armada of his own pawns. Topalov resigned and has now lost two in a row after leading the tournament in the first half.

    What has happened to Veselin Topalov? Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    What has happened to Veselin Topalov?
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    This was the round where pawns earned their paychecks. Look at this bold display by Caruana! However, Grischuk had an answer.

    Grischuk-Caruana game had its share of twists and turns… and another …g5 move! Caruana played an aggressive pawn game and sacrificed a piece (15…Nxc5) for strong initiative. However, at a critical moment he did not play the most daring continuation (17…fxe3!) and allowed the Russian a chance to hold the position together and simply pocketed the piece.

    While Caruana managed play with his two connected passed pawns, they ended up getting blockaded and his exposed king eventually came under fierce assault and after 40.Qa1 black would have been mated. Ironically, Caruana failed to make his 40th move and forfeited. Grischuk had been the one battling zeitnot this tournament. This is deja vu for Caruana who lost a heart-breaking game to Carlsen in a time scramble.

    Anish Giri set forth to face Viswanathan Anand in front of the throng of fans. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Anish Giri set forth to face Viswanathan Anand in front of the throng of fans. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    The Anand-Giri game had no such roller coaster and the game was level throughout. Giri spoke to chess.com about his recent improvement since his rough patch a few years back. He credits his improved play to being a better defender and is now at #5 on the Live Rating List and at 2798.5 may eclipse 2800 for the first time. Viswanathan Anand has not had an ideal tournament but has certainly had a loyal base of fans cheering him on. He looks to get his first win in round seven against a beleaguered Wesley So.

    Standings after Round 6:

    1st-2nd: Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, 4; 3rd-5th: Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, 3½; 6th-7th: Veselin Topalov, Alexander Grischuk, 3; 8th-9th: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, 2; 10th: Wesley So, 1½.

  6. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #7 – Sunday, 30 August 2015
    1 Nakamura, H
    USA
    0-1
    Aronian, L
    ARM
    2 Carlsen, M
    NOR
    0-1
    Grischuk, A
    RUS
    3 Topalov, V
    BUL
    ½-½
    Giri, A
    NED
    4 Caruana, F
    USA
    ½-½
    Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    5 Anand, V
    IND
    ½-½
    So, W
    USA
    Official Site

    Grischuk takes down Carlsen…
    Aronian dispatches Nakamura and
    has a one-point lead!

    The story of the round is perhaps the loss of Magnus Carlsen to a resurgent Alexander Grischuk. After losing two of the first three rounds, he has scored an undefeated 3/4 including his epic win this round. Carlsen was visibly frustrated in his post-game comments. Perhaps his earlier confession was an omen of what was to come. Carlsen played the 6.Be2 variation against the Najdorf, a more positional choice than the combative 6.Bg5 or 6.Be3.

    The game was not unusual, but the world champion made the above comment in the confession booth (see the 1:34:28 mark). The confessional booth has been very revealing in terms of catching the emotion of the players in action. It is like having a microphone on players during a basketball or football match. It also gives fans a connection to players that would not normally exist in chess. It is a stroke of genius.

    Carlsen slogged on in the middlegame, but around move 20, the game started to turn on him. Going forward to a crucial position at move, Carlsen had lost a pawn and was struggling to find a defense. Anand weighed in on the position and stated that black had an edge, but felt that Carlsen could work to hold the draw… without trading the minor pieces.

    In this position, Carlsen could possibly hold with 63.Kd2, but opted for 63.Nf2?? Grischuk zugzwanged Carlsen into submission.

    Interestingly enough, Carlsen ran low on time when precise moves were needed. Then came the crucial moment. After 60.Re5 Re6! 61.f4 Bf6 62.Rxe6 fxe6 the Norwegian blundered with 63.Nf2?? instead of the fortress-building 63.Kd2! when black has no way in.

    After 63.Nf2?? black sidestepped all of white’s tricks and executed a zugzwang maneuver on 63…Be7! Carlsen was hoping to get a forking tactic after the black pawn promotes, but the after 66…Kc2 had to resign. Black would put his bishop on the a7-g1 diagonal and prevent the knight from stopping the pawn. After the loss, Carlsen slouched in his chair and contorted his face in disgust. With the loss, he drops into a four-way tie for second.

    In Nakamura-Aronian, the American player fell behind positionally after getting his pieces tangled on the queenside and tied down to the a-pawn. Aronian slowly increased his space and showed a masterful understanding of the position. What was interesting was his suggestion of 26…Nd4+ 27.Bd4 Bxd4 imprisoning the a2-rook! The defining moment came when Nakamura played 39.Rad1 Rbf8 40.Nxe5? Kxe5 41.Rxd4 Rxf3+. This plan allowed the marauding rooks to dominate the board and begin picking off pawns.

    Nakamura seemed to have problems with his prep. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Nakamura seemed to have problems with his prep.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    In the final position, black was up two pawns and was ready to take a couple more. Very disappointing game by Nakamura, but his showdown against Carlsen could indeed change everything. A win would be good in so many ways. On the other hand, Aronian finished a 3-0 sweep of the American contingent, but has a formidable challenge in the last two rounds facing both Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov.

    Anish Giri and his wife Sopiko Guramishvili. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Anish Giri and his wife Sopiko Guramishvili.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Anish Giri faced Veselin Topalov in a battle of the new vs. old generation. Neither side played ambitiously and the game quickly reached equilibrium. Even the engines were not impressed and gave “flatlined” evaluations. This was equivalent to a rest day for Topalov who has broken his mini losing streak. Perhaps a good result as the Bulgarian can make life difficult for Aronian in the last round.

    On a side note, it is interesting to note the number of young chess wives accompanying their spouses to tournaments. For a long time Aruna Anand was a fixture besides her husband until she assumed motherly duties of Ahkil Anand. Anish and his newlywed Sopiko Guramishvili appeared to be a doting couple as they strolled down Maryland Avenue hand-in-hand. It appears that chess players continue to prove that they have great success in choosing their wives. Congrats Anish!

    What’s eating Wesley?
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Wesley So has had a miserable tournament and there is nothing that can explain his result. His sour expression has been in great contrast to his normally affable nature. The former Webster University student remarked that this tournament is like a “chess university” and he is paying with his rating points! We certainly hope that his returns to form.

    In this battle, the five-time champion trotted out the Spanish, but chose a more staid, positional line featuring an exchange of the bishop for knight on c6. The resulting position yielded nothing for white and in fact, Anand later admitted that he was happy with a draw. Sacrificing a pawn for a bit of pressure, Anand later decided to sacrifice the queen for two pieces and a resulting fortress. He noticed that Giri would end up with weakened pawns and could not make progress.

    Standings after Round 7:

    1st: Levon Aronian, 5; 2nd-5th: Alexander Grischuk, Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, 4; 6th-7th: Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, 3½; 8th-9th: Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, 2½; 10th: Wesley So, 2.

  7. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #8 – Monday, 31 August 2015
    1 Aronian, L
    ARM
    ½-½
    Anand, V
    IND
    2 Carlsen, M
    NOR
    ½-½
    Nakamura, H
    USA
    3 Grischuk, A
    RUS
    ½-½
    Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    4 Giri, A
    NED
    ½-½
    Caruana, F
    USA
    5 So, W
    USA
    ½-½
    Topalov, V
    BUL
    Official Site

    A bit of melo-drama in Carlsen-Nakamura,
    but Aronian holds lead. Draw needed to clinch.

    The pretext of this round was set. There was one leader and four players giving chase one point behind. They needed a win to close the gap. Perhaps not much would be expected from Levon Aronian today, but some exciting games were expected.

    Aronian in an enviable position.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    However, it was relatively quiet today as all the games were drawn in the penultimate round of the Sinquefield Cup. While both Grischuk-MVL and Aronian-Anand ended in similar three-fold repetition, So-Topalov and Giri-Caruana had a bit more fight. In fact, Caruana was nursing a pawn advantage, but the ensuing rook and pawn ending would simply drawn.

    The game of the round was clearly Carlsen-Nakamura, the budding rivalry which was accented by a bit of trash-talking before the tournament. When asked about Nakamura, Carlsen said, “He’s not second best… or third best.” When asked where the American stood he said, “Somewhere after that.”

    With this bit of trash talk, Nakamura had to try a break the eleven-game losing streak. However, he did not pick the right opening to do so. Even former world champion Garry Kasparov discussed this on the show. While Kasparov was giving praise to Nakamura for his sparkling win over Wesley So, he was not impressed by his choice of facing the Queen’s Gambit against Carlsen.

    Indeed, Nakamura got into an comfortable position and excoriated his first 15 moves. According to chess.com, he opined, “For the millionth time I played a terrible opening against Magnus. I felt I could have almost resigned. I played well when I had to but it still doesn’t really excuse the way I played the first 15 moves. For the most part I’ve played bad chess here. I can’t seem to remember anything I’ve prepared.”

    This was revealed as Carlsen was on top after Nakamura’s 16…Nxd4? 17.exd4 b6 18.Kd2! After some very interesting play on the queenside, Carlsen had arrived at a completely winning position. Instead of keeping both rooks on the boards, he allowed Nakamura to get a pair off after 39.Be3? (39.g3 is good enough) Rb8! With a rook versus two bishops, it is usually stronger for the second player. In a crucial moment Nakamura played a very ingenious double pawn sacrifice to further simplify.

    After 48…Re1!? 49.Be3 f4! 50.Bxf4 a2 51.Bxa2 Re2+ 52.Kb3 Rxf2, black could set up a nice blockade alternately harassing the king, one of the bishops or the g3-pawn. Carlsen could not make headway, but there was and mini-controversy. Nakamura claimed a three-fold repetition. However…

    Chris Bird adjudicates Hikaru Nakamura’s claim with Magnus Carlsen waiting for the ruling. Photo by Mike Klein (for chess.com).

    According to Chris Bird, the position not only has to be the same three times, but it has to be the same person to move. As a result, the claimed was denied and Carlsen was awarded two extra minutes on his clock. To no avail, Carlsen was unable to make progress and the two combatants shook hands.

    The draw was said to be a moral victory considering Nakamura’s score against Carlsen and his position in the game. Nakamura stated that this draw made up for the loss in Zurich where he had an overwhelming attack, but bungled it. According to chess.com, Nakamura looked at it as practice for the Candidates. On the other hand, Carlsen was frustrated with his uneven play and has resigned himself to fighting for second place.

    Aronian has put himself in a good position to capture the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour. He will face Veselin Topalov who has fallen off the pace in the second half and probably will not have the energy to fight for a win. Four players are a point behind and will be fighting for position and tour points.

    Standings after Round 8:

    1st: Levon Aronian, 5½; 2nd-5th: Alexander Grischuk, Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, 4½; 6th-7th: Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, 4; 8th-9th: Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, 3; 10th: Wesley So, 2½.

  8. 2015 Sinquefield Cup
    August 23th – September 3rd, 2014 (St. Louis, USA)
    Round #9 – Tuesday, 1 September 2015
    1 Topalov, V
    BUL
    ½-½
    Aronian, L
    ARM
    2 Anand, V
    IND
    ½-½
    Carlsen, M
    NOR
    3 Vachier-Lagrave, M
    FRA
    ½-½
    Giri, A
    NED
    4 Nakamura, H
    USA
    1-0
    Grischuk, A
    RUS
    5 Caruana, F
    USA
    ½-½
    So, W
    USA
    Official Site

    Aronian wins 2015 Sinquefield Cup!

    Levon Aronian, 2015 Sinquefield Cup champion! Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Aronian’s wins over Caruana and So highlighted his form.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    The 2015 Sinquefield Cup ended in a blaze as Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk battled time pressure in a thrilling game. It was a battle for second place as Levon Aronian had already taken first place after drawing with Veselin Topalov.

    In this game, there was a surprising asymmetry in the game in which black seem to have a solid position despite a weakened kingside. Aronian even castled on a weakened kingside, but knew that the black king would be hard to get at. In fact, black lashed out with 17…c5! and 20…f5! with a slight edge, but Topalov saw a drawing maneuver involving an exchange sacrifice and a draw by perpetual check. Topalov was the first to congratulate the Armenian.

    The champion played below expectations.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    A rematch of championship rivals is always highly-anticipated, but Carlsen-Anand did not live up to the excitement it may have evoked. The game was a Berlin Defense, but there was nothing remarkable about the game as it went down to an opposite-colored bishop ending. White had a minuscule edge in the end and all that was left to do was shake hands and agree to a draw. Not the best result for either player and perhaps even more disappointing for the world champion.

    Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had a solid result as did his opponent Anish Giri. Both tallied 5/9 and tied for second place. MVL tried an interesting pawn sacrifice for a better structure and mobility, but there was really no pull in the position and the game suddenly simplified into a basic rook ending.

    Caruana-So was a matchup between two old rivals who go back to their first encounter in the under-12 World Youth tournament. Caruana actually remembered that game which started 1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5!? in a very poor showing by the American. This game would certain be more refined and controlled in a positional English.

    Caruana was having a poor tournament and So even worse, but this was actually quite an interesting game. Caruana played a Qd4-h4 maneuver and then followed up with 14.Bh3 and 15.g4!? This was an unusual way to carry out an attack and So was up to the challenge. Adopting a nice hedgehog setup, So played many of the typical ideas such as 14…Rc7 and 15…Qa8 striking at the center (diagram #1 below).

    However, he committed a cardinal sin in the hedgehog when playing 16…h6? which gives white targets to attack. So also played 18…e6 allowing white to offer an exchange with 21.Rxd6 when 21. Bxd6 was winning after 21… Rxc4 22. bxc4 Bxd6 23. Rxd6 Qxd6 24. Qh8+! (diagram #2 above)

    It appeared that black would have chances after seizing the e-file and executing the Qd6-c5 maneuver. After missing the best chance with 35…Bxg5, So fell into horrible time pressure and actually made his 40th move (Bf8) with fractions of a second left. The game was still complicated. In the final position, there was enough play for both sides and three results were possible. The two took the draw.

    Hikaru Nakamura was all business today. Photo by Lennart Ootes (for CCSCSL).

    Hikaru Nakamura was all business today.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes (for CCSCSL).

    The last game to end was the Nakamura-Grischuk slug-fest. Out of a Rossolimo Sicilian, the position was very dynamic with many imbalances. Hikaru Nakamura upped the anti with 43.h4 showing his intentions. Alexander Grischuk continued to hunker down, but then tried to grab material with 45…Qxa5. This may have been a mistake.

    Nakamura seized the chance with 46.h5 and with Grischuk falling into time pressure, it was not easy to fend off the attack. In fact, the same queen that went offside to grab a pawn retreated into a blunder. The move 48…Qd8?? was losing to 49.f6! totally tying black into knots. After 51.Qh6 Rg8, the engines were screaming for 52.Rg1! whereby black can resign due to 52….Rxg1+ 53.Kxg1 Nc7 (or else 54.Bxh7! is the kill shot) 54.Qg7+! and white wins a rook.

    Nakamura who had also wandered into time pressure played 52.Re1 after which Grischuk got counterplay after 52…d5! In fact, it was discovered that black had drawing chances after 57.fxe7 Qg7! The Russian actually played the losing 57…Qd6+ 58.Kh3 Bd7+ 59.Bf5 Qd3+? All that was left was for Nakamura to finish the deal. The queens came off, Nakamura gobbled a couple of pawns and ended with a zugzwang maneuver with 75.Kh4 and 76.Kh5 to totally corner the black king.

    The tournament was a fantastic showing as the atmosphere was electric. The enthusiasm of the fans and the exciting play made this a tournament to remember. There is something special about such a tournament that can command the attention of millions of fans around the world. Rex Sinquefield’s vision has produced quite a gem.

    Battlefield for 2015 Sinquefield Cup. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Organizer of world-class tournaments and…

    Watering hole for the chess public. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    …watering hole for the chess public.
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    The whole of America is benefiting from this renaissance and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis serving as the main catalyst. While New York still has the most venerable chess history, indigenous talent (Fischer, Nakamura and Caruana), legendary chess institutions and self-sustaining organic chess culture, St. Louis has certainly taken the lead as an organizer and cultural magnet for chess.

    Standings after Round 9:

    1st: Levon Aronian, 6; 2nd-5th: Anish Giri, Magnus Carlsen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, 5; 6th-7th: Veselin Topalov, Alexander Grischuk, 4½; 8th-9th: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, 3½; 10th: Wesley So, 3.

  9. Reflections of 2015 Sinquefield Cup

    The Sinquefield Cup was held was great fanfare from August 22nd until September 3rd. The excitement built from a gradual crescendo when ten of the top players from around the world set upon St. Louis, Missouri to compete one of the strongest round robins in history. The Chess Drum would be “in the building”. However after 14 years of covering national and international events, this would perhaps be the strongest international event I have covered.

    Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov and Fabiano Caruana joust a bit during the opening ceremonies. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    I have seen all of these players at the five Olympiad I have covered, but to see them all in one place was special. Watching the first five rounds of the tournament from home was a treat. Internet coverage is so much better these days and with the social networking function, information is widely available.

    When I arrived in St. Louis, I did not see any sign at the airport that this event was taking place. Despite having have the top six chess players of the the world in the city, eight of top 10 and ten of top 25, chess has not commanded such a media presence. It seems to be at the fringes and highlighted only when networks want a “story”… usually some 5-year old they brand the next Bobby Fischer.

    Fans were here to see elite chess in a place dubbed
    the “chess capital of America”.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    The story line centered around the three players hoisting the U.S. banner in Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So. Caruana won the tournament last year (representing Italy), but of course World Champion Magnus Carlsen would be on hand to try to reclaim the title he won in the inaugural tournament in 2013. Millions of fans would be tuning in on various media platforms including chess24.com which carried the games with live daily broadcasts.

    The most difficult thing about covering such an event is that a journalist has to figure out what they can accomplish. With me only spending a weekend in St. Louis, it would be difficult to get the attention of the players amidst the crush of fans and the other obligations they may have had. If given a choice, it is always optimal for a journalist to make the closing ceremonies instead of the opening ceremonies. Players are calm, relaxed and have interesting perspectives.

    In the pressroom!

    Unfortunately, the chess media was scarce. Apart from me, Mike Klein (chess.com), Lennart Ootes, Cathy Rogers (Australia), Steve Abrahams (chesskid.com) and a couple of other photojournalists, the press corps was relatively thin. GM Ioan-Cristian Cirrilla of Romania joined the press room later. CCSCSL and Alejandro Ramirez did a great job and on-the-ground coverage and the commentary team of Jennifer Shahade, Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley was superb.

    By the time I arrived in St. Louis, checked into my hotel and drove down Maryland Avenue, three games had already finished. It was at the end of the 5th round with only Caruana-Topalov and Carlsen-So remaining. It is so much different seeing the players in person and the energy is electric! Both of the games were intense and the crowd was on edge. In the end, both Caruana and Carlsen won the battles. It was at this point that Carlsen moved into first place, replacing Topalov.

    Magnus pondering his next move... which was 44.c3.

    Carlsen made a run, but it would not be enough.
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz (unless otherwise stated).

    There were a number of people milling on the first floor including Alexander Grischuk. In fact, I saw IM Lawerence Trent and asked him if he was commentating. He told me he is acting as Caruana’s manager! I later learned that Rustam Kasimdzhanov was acting as the trainer for Caruana. The former FIDE world champion is from Uzbekistan, but is based in Germany. There is no official information on why Caruana and Vladimir Chuchelov are no longer working together. So Caruana has a new management team, new federation and new home. We will see how long his adjustment period will last.

    CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.



    After the round, I took my usual trip to the Lebanese restaurant (Central Café and Bakery, 331 N Euclid Avenue) which has been remodeled. The food is delicious and I got the Mediterranean platter which has hummus, baba ghanouj, grape leaves, falafel and tabbouleh! You have to try this restaurant if you’re ever in Central West End St. Louis. I got back to my room and enjoyed it immensely.

    Fortunately for me, the next day was the rest day and I got a chance to catch up on my reports, visit the Chess Hall of Fame museum and possibly eat at Kingside diner. I had been contacted by Nicole Halpin to visit the World War II exhibit and found that there were two additional exhibits by Marcel Dzama and Jon Crumiller. Although I missed Crumiller’s guest appearance and lecture, I was told six of the players attended. The museum has been a very interesting fixture in the chess community in the Central West End area.

    Dzama’s “Mischief makes a Move” exhibit had a bit more abstraction… a bit bizarre and had a “viewer discretion” upon entry. There were some very interesting mask and sculptured pieces in the collection. Perhaps some of the most compelling pieces were drawings that included a bit of gore and “adult” themes.

    Dzama stated that his motivation came from Marcel Duchamp. Crumiller’s collection had intricate ivory sets that are purely shown for exquisite craftsmanship. As I went through the exhibit, I was wondering about his stance on ivory poaching. On cue, there was a video where he resolutely condemned the practice.

    I do have an interest in military history and own many of the movies with “Saving Private Ryan” being a favorite of mine. The World War II exhibit had some interesting pieces including an amazing chess set that was hand-carved and owned by a prisoner-of-war (POW). The prisoner somehow lost track of this set and after 70 years was reunited with it!

    CLICK to see larger images. Hover to get descriptions.





    All exhibition photos available here!
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Given the images of war, it was surprising to see the type of items that POWs got. It also became apparent that the memorable red and black chessboard that many of us learned how to play on may have been the work of Coca-Cola who sent sets to boost the morale of the soldiers. It is well-known that at the time, the German POWs were treated better than the Blacks who served in the American military. Perhaps it was appropriate that photos of the famed Tuskegee Airmen were in the collection. This group played a key role in turning the tide against the Germans with their adept combat flying.

    At Kingside diner with Rodney Thomas, an IBM executive
    who sits on the board of University of Texas-Dallas chess club.

    I got a text from Rodney Thomas of Dallas who has arrived and we ended up eating at the Kingside Diner that evening. It had been remodeled from its origins as “Lester’s” with the bar having been removed and moved from the center of the room. It was apparent that the bar was being deemphasized for the dining space. The menu was decent. I had the kale salad in a vinaigrette and a vegetable tofu wrap. Not bad! Rodney had a black bean burger that came with fries. Pretty good food for thought… pun intended!

    After the rest day on Friday, the rounds were scheduled to start at 1:00pm Central Time. The fans and the photographers were waiting to get shots of the players as they walked toward the club. One scene that was particularly enjoyed was the procession of chess players from the Chase Park Plaza hotel. Many photographers stayed by the front door of the club, but I like getting some close-up shots of the players in stride to capture their anticipation and confidence.

    Fabiano Caruana and his new second, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

    Magnus Carlsen leading entourage of GM Peter Heine-Nielsen and his
    manager/father Henrik Carlsen.

    Newlyweds Sopiko Guramashvili and Anish Giri
    walking hand-in-hand toward the club.

    Levon Aronian bringing cheer to the moment.

    So for the next two rounds I nestled into the press room at Kingside and witnessed the electric atmosphere around the club and was able to witness some key moments before I had to leave town. One of my favorite memories was Nakamura’s scintillating win over Wesley So. The scene around the club was frenetic as the attack unfolded. The game had a range of emotions with Nakamura prowling like a lion around the board and Wesley So looking as if he was gazelle looking for an opening to escape. The finish was picturesque as So showed enough class to allow a storybook checkmate.

    One of the other good things about traveling to such an event the chess personalities you meet from around the country… fans, journalists, photographers, organizers and players. I was able to see National Master George Umezinwa for the first time in 25 years. Along with another Chicago area master Kurt Stein, we reminisced about Chicago tournaments and the old days. It was also good to see George play some of the locals in blitz. Brought back good memories!

    George Umezinwa and Maurice Ashley

    Me with George Umezinwa and Maurice Ashley. Both knew about The Chess Drum idea 11 years before it was launched.

    I had a compelling conversation with Dirk jan ten Guezendam of the famed New in Chess (NIC) magazine. We discussed kasparovchess.com, a site with a meteoric rise and precipitous fall. I shared with Dirk that the stories on Amon Simutowe were very inspirational. I offered that there were so many wonderful human interest stories that go untold. As I prepared to leave St. Louis, he rushed to catch me to tell me to considered making contributions of these “untold stories”. Most certainly.

    There are also some things that fans cannot see unless your at the site. I feel that everyone should experience one of these tournaments in person. Outside the club… the buzzing of the crowd, the staccato of the chess clocks being punched, the bursts of laughter and general happy mood of the crowd and players. Inside the club… the intellectualism and the hushed tones discussing variations. There is a aura of mystique surrounding these games.

    My favorite moments… simply being in St. Louis! Besides the fact that I have a 100-year old great aunt across the bridge in E. St. Louis, I get a chance to witness history in the making. The scene is always so electric and like the two previous Sinquefield Cups (2013, 2014), this one had the makings of something special. While covering events live is much more challenging, there is nothing like being close to the excitement and seeing the players interact with the public.

    See you next year!

    This is my great aunt, Mattie Malone of East St. Louis, Illinois.
    She mothered 12 children will be 101 November 28th.
    All photos by Daaim Shabazz.


  10. Interview with WIM Jennifer Shahade

    The Chess Drum caught up with WIM Jennifer Shahade during the 2015 Sinquefield Cup in a very short interview. While she has played in a number of U.S. Championships, she primarily is known as a chess promoter and commentator. She is a fixture on commentary teams for tournaments held at the St. Louis Chess Club. However, in the past decade she has also been on the poker circuit and has worked at building a bridge in between the sport sports.

    As far as her chess activism, she co-founded the 9 Queens initiative with Jean Hoffman, has authored a couple of books and continues to provide some interesting views on gender in chess. In this interview, she makes a revelation that talented girls may be able to embark on a career in professional chess in 10 years. She gives her views of what chess needs to do to make it to the next level. She also praised chess because of its inherent diversity. While the interview was cut short because of her going on air, her words were very much appreciated.

    The Chess Drum with WIM Jennifer Shahade
    6:49 minutes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button