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On Chess: St. Louis Chess Club To Host Two Upcoming Online Chess Tournaments Featuring The World’s Top Grandmasters

Legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov playing in the 2019 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX event.
Lennart Ootes
St. Louis Chess Club
World Champion Garry Kasparov playing in the 2019 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX event.

The first time legendary World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen faced off was in the Reykjavik Rapid tournament in 2004. Kasparov was only a year away from retirement, while his fresh-faced opponent was only 13 years old. Sixteen years later, the two heavyweights will face off once again, this time playing online in the upcoming Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX.

Chess960, also known as Fischer Random Chess, is a chess variant invented by 11th World Champion Bobby Fischer. The game uses the same board, pieces and rules of chess except that the pieces on the back rank are randomized following specific rules. The game has become more popular. So much so that the International Chess Federation staged the first official Chess960 World Championship in 2019. The American grandmaster Wesley So won the first title after demolishing Magnus Carlsen with a score of 13.5-2.5 in the finals.

Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX has become a staple on the St. Louis Chess Club’s calendar. The event previously featured a series of matches between top players. However, this edition will be a round robin instead, which means that all 10 players will play each other. The tournament will take place online Sept. 11-13 with a total prize fund of $150,000. The star-studded field will include:

  • Magnus Carlsen, reigning world champion
  • Garry Kasparov, 13th world champion
  • Wesley So, reigning Chess960 world champion
  • Fabiano Caruana, world No. 2 player
  • Hikaru Nakamura, reigning U.S. champion
  • Levon Aronian, No. 1 player from Armenia
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, No. 1 player from France
  • Peter Svidler, 8-time Russian champion
  • Leinier Dominguez, former World Blitz champion
  • Alireza Firouzja, youngest player rated over 2700

The chess festivities will continue with another well-known chess event, the 2020 St. Louis Raid and Blitz. The St. Louis Rapid and Blitz had been one of the stops of the Grand Chess Tour, but due to the cancellation of the tour as a result of the ongoing pandemic, it will take place as a stand-alone event. The 10 players will be competing online for a $250,000 prize fund in nine rapid games and 18 blitz games over five days of play. The top American grandmasters and crowd favorites grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez and Jeffery Xiong will be joined by grandmasters Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk, Levon Aronian, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Pentala Harikrishna.

Chess fans will be particularly delighted with these fields that include both youth and experience, in particular the two young phenoms Alireza Firouzja and Jeffery Xiong. It will be the first time that this Iranian player makes an appearance in a top American event. Firouzja has been garnering fans due to his uncompromising, fearless style of play and is considered to be a future contender to the World Championship title by many. He cemented his status as a top player with his result in the 2019 World Rapid Championship, where he finished second, only a point behind the winner, Carlsen. The 2016 World Junior Champion Jeffery Xiong is a force to be reckoned with as well, as he is coming fresh off the Online Olympiad, where he represented the U.S. team, scoring 10 points in 13 games. He made waves in the 2019 World Cup when he made it all the way to the semifinals, only to lose to the eventual winner, Teimour Radjabov.

Games will start daily at 1 p.m. CDT (GMT-5) Sept. 11-13 for Chess 9LX, followed by the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz from Sept. 15-19 with expert commentary featuring Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley and Jennifer Shahade. Viewers can watch live on uschesschamps.com or on STLChessClub’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.

Tatev Abrahamyan is a woman grandmaster. She started playing chess at the age of 8. She has competed in five Chess Olympiads, earning a bronze team medal for the United States in her first appearance. Tatev has also competed in multiple U.S. Women’s Chess Championship as well as Women’s World Chess Championship.