The biggest chess event in the United States will fittingly be hosted in the chess capital of the nation. The Sinquefield Cup, which is the third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, will take place Aug. 2-12 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The top players in the world will compete for $300,000 in prize money, tour points and the coveted title of the 2017 Sinquefield Cup Champion.
As was the case last year, the Sinquefield Cup will be the first classical event of the tour, meaning that the time controls will be longer. A special treat for the fans will be the presence of Magnus Carlsen, the No. 1 player in the world. He was unable to complete in the tour last year and participated in only the first two events in Europe.
Unsurprisingly, the world champion is leading the tour with 25 points, seven points ahead of his closest competitor, Maxime-Vachier Lagrave. What is a surprise, however, is the fact that he has not won the title since 2013, when the tournament made its debut as a four-player round robin.
Carlsen has not won a classical tournament since defending his throne last November in the world championship match against Sergey Karjakin of Russia. Undoubtedly, the Norwegian superstar will be looking not only to win his first classical event of the year, but also perhaps even clinch the title of the Grand Chess Tour winner.
The competitive field will include all the winners from previous years. They include 2016 Grand Chess Tour winner and 2017 U.S. Champion Wesley So, who had a slow start and is in third place with 14 tour points. He started the year off in an impressive manner by winning the prestigious Tata Steel Chess Tournament before becoming the 2017 U.S. champion. But since then, his results haven’t been as steady.
The winner of the 2015 edition, fan favorite Levon Aronian, had a fantastic year so far, winning the super strong Grenke Chess Classic and Altibox Norway Chess. He also defeated Carlsen in what has become the most talked about and stunning game of the year. Also, who can forget Fabiano Caruana’s dazzling win in 2014, when he achieved the unimaginable by winning his first seven games and achieving tournament victory with a phenomenal 8.5/10 score?
The former winners will be joined by four-time U.S. champion Hikaru Nakamura, world championship challenger Sergey Karjakin, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand of India, former Rapid and Blitz World Championship silver medalist Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, highest rated French player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and the wildcard of the event, seven-time Russian champion Peter Svidler.
The event that will have the chess world’s attention, however, is the one following the Sinquefield Cup: the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. News that the legendary former world champion Garry Kasparov will be coming out of his 12-year retirement to compete in the event has been all the talk in the chess world. In his last rated game, Kasparov lost to Veselin Topalov in the Linares tournament in April of 2005. Since then, he has played in exhibitions matches, including the Champions Showdown in Saint Louis, where he faced off against the top three finishers in the 2016 U.S. Championship. However, this will be his first rated event where he will be competing against the top players of this generation. It’s unclear how he will fare in this event, but everyone knows for a fact that Kasparov absolutely hates losing and is taking his preparation seriously.
Unfortunately, the highly anticipated face-off between Carlsen and Kasparov won’t happen, as Carlsen has already competed in two out of the three required rapid and blitz events. Even so, chess fans remember very well the epic battles between Kasparov and Anand, and once again the stage has been set for the two legends to battle.
Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Sergey Karjakin, Levon Aronian and Ian Nepomniachtchi will be the youngsters joining the veteran legends. The other wildcards of the event besides Kasparov are David Navara, Le Quang Liem and Lenier Dominguez.
Festivities kick off Aug. 1 with a 4 p.m. autograph session that is open to the public. The games will start at 1 p.m. Aug. 2. Chess fans are welcome to purchase a ticket and watch the games live at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center, with live commentary by grandmasters at the Kingside Diner next door.
Live coverage with grandmasters Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and woman grandmaster Jennifer Shahade will be streamed for all audiences on grandchestour.org.
Tatev Abrahamyan started playing chess at age 8 after her father took her to the 1996 Chess Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia. There she met grandmaster Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest female player of all time and the only woman in the tournament. Currently the third highest rated female in the U.S., she has represented the United States in four Olympiads and two World Team Championships since 2008.