Garry Kasparov is back in action tonight in the Champions
Showdown: Chess 9LX, where he’ll face Magnus Carlsen in their first competitive
game since 13-year-old Magnus took on the legend in Reykjavik in 2004. The 10-player
round-robin also features Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Alireza Firouzja
and reigning Chess960 World Champion Wesley So. Two days later the St. Louis
Rapid & Blitz begins, with Nepo, Grischuk, Harikrishna and Xiong replacing
Kasparov, MVL, Caruana and Svidler.
The US city of Saint Louis returns to being the focus of the
chess world this week, or at least the Chess Club’s events do, as all the
action will take place online! First up is the Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX, a
10-player, 3-day event that has once again tempted the 13th World Chess
Champion Garry Kasparov back to the chessboard:
He’ll be playing Chess960 (or FischerRandom, or now Chess 9LX),
where the pieces are randomly shuffled on the back rank before the games begin,
with the players given only 3 minutes to get to grips with the new starting position
before moves are made. That should negate the opening knowledge gap after Garry
has now been retired for 15 years:
In 2019 the format was matches, with Garry Kasparov impressing
at times but losing 14.5:3.5 to world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana. Fabi is back this
year, but as the event is a round-robin the big news is that we get to see some
other blockbuster ties! There is, of course, Carlsen-Kasparov, the first
competitive meeting of the two champions since 13-year-old Magnus picked up a
draw but then lost the second game to Kasparov in the Reykjavik Rapid 16 years
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then,
including Garry coaching Magnus for a year in 2009, when they got to play a lot
of practice games. This time it’s serious, though, with 20 minutes per player,
a 10-second increment, and the full focus of the chess world’s attention!
How will Kasparov fare? Magnus told
I saw clearly in the match against Fabiano Caruana last year
that Kasparov is still capable of outplaying the world elite regularly, but he has
problems finishing off the games. I still consider him extremely dangerous in
individual games, but not one of the main candidates to win the tournament.
Wesley So expressed similar views to The
Times of India:
He has got nothing to gain and he has been retired for 15
years but every chess fan wants to see him play. I will be surprised if he did
very well but I can be wrong.
The Carlsen-Kasparov clash will be similar to Michael Jordan
taking on LeBron as they are two great players. It will be an interesting game.
That’s not the only excitement to look forward to, however.
We’ve seen an awful lot of Carlsen vs. Nakamura this summer, but now there’s
The Candidates Tournament is set to restart in November, and
leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will also get a shot at Garry.
We have Chess960 specialists such as 3-time World Champion
Peter Svidler, 2-time World Champion Levon Aronian and reigning World Champion
Wesley So, who scored
an amazing 13.5-2.5 victory over Magnus last year.
If Garry Kasparov is the past, however, and Magnus Carlsen
is the present, it’s very possible Alireza Firouzja is the future. The
17-year-old has had a quiet summer after beating
Magnus in the Banter Blitz Cup final, but he’s going to get to play Garry
Kasparov as well, even if the legend is now over three times his age!
When the pairings are published you’ll be able to see them
and watch the games here on chess24 using the selector below. The action starts
at 13:00 local time, or 20:00 CEST.
That’s not all, as two days after the Chess 9LX ends, on 15th
September, the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz begins. While the Chess 9LX has a $150,000 prize
fund with $37,500 for 1st place the Rapid & Blitz has a $250,000 fund with
$50,000 for 1st place. It’s a 5-day tournament following the exact same
schedule we’ve become used to for the Grand Chess Tour of 3 days of rapid
followed by 2 days of blitz.
Most players, including Magnus and Alireza, go straight from
one event to the next, but Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana, Peter Svidler and
Garry Kasparov are replaced by Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk,
Harikrishna and Jeffery Xiong.
First, however, we have the Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX.
Make sure to tune
in live today at 20:00 CEST!