Over four days of exciting Chess 960, also known as Fischer Random, fans enjoyed watching ten of the strongest chess players in the world dazzle with their creativity and skill during 6 rapid and 14 blitz games. During the event, each player faced the same opponent in head-to-head matches, including former world champions Garry Kasparov and Veselin Topalov. In the end, Veselin Topalov, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Levon Aronian, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won their matches against Garry Kasparov, Peter Svidler, Anish Giri, Leinier Dominguez, and Sam Shankland, respectively.
At the start of the tournament, the Universal Rating System announced plans to begin including Chess 960 events in their rating calculations, making this a rated tournament. “I believe we opened a new chapter in the development of chess. It is a great experiment when top players contribute their creativity and skills in something new, which may become a mainstream game in the future,” explains Garry Kasparov.
At the start of each day, Chess Club Executive Director Tony Rich randomly selected the day’s arrangement of pieces. Players then had one hour to prepare before the start of play. Interestingly enough, many players chose to prepare for that hour with other match participants. Members of the U.S. Chess Olympiad team practiced each day together, giving a special glimpse to the comradery that will be shared at the Olympiad in Batumi later this month. Once games began, players had to test their creativity with this unusual format.
“The Saint Louis Chess Club likes to host matches each year that experiment with the boundaries of chess,” explained Tony Rich. “I think Chess 960 was the perfect way to show that elite players exhibit their mastery with any variant of the game, as well as giving fans a fun show to watch.”