If someone still maintains that chess is boring, they should give up. If the fast-paced fast games, and the comfort of watching them in your pajamas from home, weren’t enough, comes “thermostat chess”, which increases the excitement with extra scoring games. Norwegian multi-time world champion Magnus Carlsen and seven other stars are fighting today for a prize pool of $ 265,000 (235,000 euros) on Lichess.org, organized by the state-of-the-art Saint Louis Chess Club (Missouri, USA), sponsored by the patron Rex Sinquefield.
The idea is from Maurice Ashley, the first black grandmaster, commentator, and presenter. “The thermostat chess [Clutch Chess, en inglés] tests the player’s ability to perform under pressure in the most critical periods of a duel ”, says the presentation text of the new format. It debuted in late May with a home run among the four great stars of American chess: Wesley So won, beating Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Leinier Domínguez. Of the twelve games of each duel (with ten initial minutes per side and five additional seconds after each movement), the 5th and 6th have a double score (two points for the winner), and the last two, triple.
So whoever loses the first four can equal the score if they win the next two. And whoever reaches the eleventh with a 3-9 against but wins the 11th and 12th will force the tiebreaker (two lightning games; and if it persists, one of sudden death). In addition, games with extra points are also endowed with special bonuses: $ 2,000 for the 5th and 6th; 3,000 the last two.
Maurice Ashley, author of the idea of thermostat chess, during the 2019 Sinquefield Cup at the Saint Louis Chess Club (Missouri, USA) Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes
Three of the first four swords quoted repeat in the tournament that begins today. Hikaru Nakamura has decided to take a break after eliminating Carlsen in the Lindores Abbey semifinals and falling to sudden death in the final against Russian Danil Dúbov. He will be replaced by portent Jeffrey Xiong, 2nd in the U20 world. The other three invited mental gladiators are Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Russian Alexander Grischuk and Armenian Levon Aronián.
The pairings are dictated by rank order, so that if all predictions were met, the final would be Carlsen-Vachier Lagrave. The quarterfinals are played from today until Tuesday, starting at 8:00 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time; 3:00 p.m. in Buenos Aires; 1:00 p.m. in Mexico City and Bogotá) with a duration of four hours. These are the duels: Carlsen-Xiong and Vachier Lagrave-So (Saturday and Monday); Leinier-Caruana and Grischuk-Aronián (Sunday and Tuesday). In addition to Lichess.org and the portal of the Club of San Luis, there will be live broadcasts in other virtual clubs.
Carlsen’s dominance is indisputable in the classic modality (slow games), but not so much in the fast ones, and even less in lightning, terrain in which mainly Nakamura (1st in the world in lightning) but also Vachier-Lagrave (2nd in fast) are up to it. The eloquent gestures of enormous anger that the champion showed a week ago when he was eliminated by Nakamura are still in the fans’ retina.
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