Ultimate Blitz Challenge Day 1

By GM Cristian Chirila

The 2016 U.S. Championship has ended but the chess festival in Saint Louis has one more surprise for the fans all over the world, the Ultimate Blitz Challenge! In what could easily be considered the most anticipated blitz event in the world, Garry Kasparov was summoned by the patriarch of modern chess, Rex Sinquefield, to take on the best players in American chess and arguably in the world. It was an exciting return from someone who many be considered the best chess player that ever played the game.

Garry Kasparov

The event is a two-day, six rounds, round-robin with Kasparov facing the three titans of the U.S. Championship—Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So— in an attempt to prove he is still one of the best players in the world, more than a decade since his official retirement.

The event had an electrifying start, with Kasparov proving his tenacity and scoring 2 points in the first round section. He beat So and drew Nakamura and Caruana.

The players trailing by half point after the first round were Caruana and Nakamura with 1.5p. Round two saw Kasparov have a fulminant start but failed to continue his winning streak after he blundered a couple of winning positions successively. The “gift” recipients were So and Nakamura.

Fabiano Caruana

Caruana scored +1 in the second round and caught Kasparov at the top of the table, while Nakamura and So seemed to be struggling with their form and were trailing by a full point. The third round saw the resurgence of the trailing pack, as both Nakamura and So destroyed their competition and ended the day on +1.

Kasparov and Caruana were both facing back-to-back losses going into the last round, and it was Kasparov that immediately started his offense when he chose the offbeat Vienna game. Caruana could not handle the complications and finished the last round on a disappointing 0-3.

The first day was a thrilling affair in which the chess world has been reminded once again what Kasparov can do with the chess pieces. Despite the fact that he is not leading, his impressive opening repertoire, middlegame understanding, and flawless technique can rival the best players in the world even after such a long period of inactivity. The rustiness is present, but the unmatched feeling for the game will always stay. The world is anxiously waiting to see if the big K will manage to add another title to his impressive resume. Games will resume Friday, April 29, at 1 PM Central Time. See you all tomorrow for another day of exciting blitz battles in the chess capital of the world, St. Louis.