Carlsen and So tie for 1st at STL Rapid & Blitz
For Immediate Release
Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So Tie For First in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz Tournament
World Champion and Chess960 World Champion Each Win $45,000
SAINT LOUIS, September 19, 2020 - The final day of Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz concluded with a tie for first between World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen and Chess960 World Champion GM Wesley So, splitting $90,000 between them. This year’s event featured nine rapid and eighteen blitz games over five days and a $250,000 prize fund - $100,000 more than in 2019. This fast-paced event featured some of the top players of the world, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen and two previous winners, Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura.
Historically, Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz is a regular stop on the Grand Chess Tour, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 tour was canceled. This year’s stand alone tournament featured five exciting days of online rapid and blitz games, keeping fans and commentators guessing who would rise to the top until the very last game.
Day one ended with Levon Aronian and Pentala Harikrishna emerging as co-leaders. While Aronian won the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz in both 2017 and 2019, this was Harikrishna’s first appearance in the event. Day two of the tournament kicked off with an all-decisive bloody round. Magnus Carlsen came back powerfully, winning all three games on the second day, taking a full point lead over his closest rivals, Wesley So and Ian Nepomniachtchi. The rapid portion concluded with Alexander Grischuk defeating the World Champion in the final round, allowing Wesley So to leapfrog to 1st place. The tournament moved on to blitz with 18 rounds over the next two days.
The end of day four became a two-horse race for first as Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So separated themselves from the rest of the field with a three point lead. The World Champion maintained his slim lead in day five, with Wesley So close on his heels throughout the final day. The American went on a hot streak, winning his three final games, including a clutch last-round victory against Pentala Harikrishna, securing a tie for first place.
“What a thrilling event. While the players weren’t able to be in Saint Louis, they nonetheless showed the same fighting spirit and grit that we’ve come to expect from the world’s best,” said Tony Rich, Executive Director of the Saint Louis Chess Club. “While internet chess is a different beast, the thrills and spills certainly entertained our worldwide audience.”
“I’ve had a lot of experience in these events from the Grand Chess Tour and I tend to lose one game after another; if I lose one game, it can snowball to a second or third loss, so I was trying to avoid that at all costs”, said Wesley So in his interview at the end of the day. “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 so I’m grateful for today’s win.”
Magnus Carlsen reflected upon the five day event in his post-game interview, “Obviously, I am happy to win anything that I play. I thought overall the 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 performance that you can only tip your hat to,” said the World Champion of his tournament co-winner.
Daily recaps from the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz can be found online at www.uschesschamps.com. Fans can rewatch the show and find great video recaps on the Saint Louis Chess Club's Youtube and Twitch.tv channels.