2022 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz – Day 4 recap by WGM Anastasiya Karlovich
Saint Louis rapid and blitz 2022: All the information / Live games / Pairings & Schedule
After 9 rounds of blitz, the tournament has the sole leader again – Alireza Firouzja! Coming into the day, both Frenchmen Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alireza Firouzja were tied for the lead with 13 points each but by the end of the day Vachier-Lagrave slowed down and let his countryman pass him. Before the second day of blitz, Alireza keeps a comfortable three points distance from MVL.
Another storyline was the surge of Hikaru Nakamura, who climbed up the standings from finishing in last place after the rapid portion to being third after an impressive 7.5/9 performance. Tomorrow promises to be an exciting day as both MVL and Hikaru Nakamura may try to overtake Firouzja in the final day of the 2022 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz.
Alireza started the day with a victory against Ian Nepomniachtchi and made 4 consecutive draws after that. It’s hard to say if a topsy-turvy game vs Fabiano was a turning point today or something else, but after that game Alireza scored 4 points, finishing the day with 7/9 performance. “In blitz, you should really have the Day, so I was lucky I was in a good mood today and showed a good performance,” said Alireza during his interview in our studio.
Hikaru Nakamura is known for his blitz expertise and didn’t disappoint his numerous fans today. He came fully equipped, wearing his famous pineapple shirt, even though according to Hikaru, it didn’t play a huge role in his success today. Hikaru started the day with 2 victories against Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, which definitely boosted his self-confidence after yesterday’s collapse.
Things went Hikaru’s way for most of the games except his encounters vs Leinier Dominguez and Ian Nepomniachtchi which were up and down. “It could not really have gone worse than it was in the rapid portion, so I just tried to play good chess,” commented Hikaru on his performance. He is currently three and a half points behind Firouzja and half a point behind MVL but can move up in the standings if he can keep the momentum going tomorrow.
The current blitz world champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had an unpleasant start, losing the first game of day four to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Later on, MVL defeated Leinier Dominguez and Levon Aroinian, but lost key matches against the leader Firouzja and “awakened” Nakamura. Despite an unimpressive 4/9 in blitz, MVL is in second place and will keep fighting tomorrow.
Ian Nepomniachtchi scored 5/9 and kept his 4th place in the tournament. He lost his first and last games vs Firouzja and Aronian and won the encounters against Mamedyarov, Xiong and Dominguez. Nepo certainly missed good chances in the games vs Shankland and Nakamura and could grab more points today.
Jeffery Xiong scored an impressive 5/9 and tied for fourth place with Ian Nepomniachtchi. He was fighting in all his games, won four of them, lost three and made two draws. His fastest victory was against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who blundered a piece right in the opening and could resign after 10 moves.
The Azeri Grandmaster started the day with 2 victories but in the game vs Ian Nepomniachtchi made 2 (!) illegal moves. Both players could not stop laughing during the game but it took Shakhriyar a long time to recover after this loss. He started to play below his usual exemplary blitz form and he made only 2 points in the six remaining games.
Levon Aronian started the day with 1,5 points out of 4 but he made up some ground with a strong showing, scoring 4/5 later on. Fabiano Caruana finished the day with a solid plus-one.