Jack Rodgers

23 days

STL Rapid & Blitz 2: Robson beats Firouzja to take lead

Robson moved into the lead with 8/12 points | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

Ray Robson scored a crucial win over Alireza Firouzja to take the sole lead in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz after Day 1 leader Liem Le suffered a tragic loss at the hands of Fabiano Caruana and also got caught up in more drama when he incorrectly claimed a draw by 3-fold repetition against Anish Giri. A day that started with 10 draws saw four winners in the last round: Robson, Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Giri, with the latter benefitting from Sam Sevian flagging in a drawn position.

Yasser Seirawan, Tania Sachdev and Peter Svidler commentated on the Day 2 action.

Watch all the games with computer analysis on chess24!

The standings looked as follows after Day 2 of the event.

Overnight preparation is a dangerous weapon in the hands of the world's top chess players and in Round 4, the games reflected this. Five draws transpired, and eight of the 10 players played with above 97% accuracy, according to Chess.com's Game Review.

The preparation paid off for Xiong and Vachier-Lagrave

The only game where a win seemed likely was Wesley So vs. Fabiano Caruana. Playing with the black pieces after a difficult first day, Caruana evoked chess legends of old and played the Ruy López Opening: Morphy Defense, Deferred Steinitz Defense.

Playing Caruana juiced up on overnight preparation is every player's worst nightmare | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

Crossing into uncharted territory with 11.Nb3, So found himself in a spot of bother and decided to give up the exchange to avoid nasty tactics. After trading into an endgame where neither king was safe, Caruana rushed with 40...Kh7??, opening the floodgates for White's queen to infiltrate and deliver threefold repetition.

While Round 4 was a near-perfect picture of solidity, the second round of the day was full of missed chances, despite five draws occurring. Liem Le's stellar run almost came to an end when he was nearly beaten by Anish Giri after pinching a pawn in the middle game.

Checked and denied! No threefold repetition for Le | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

His lucky stars aligned even when incorrectly claiming a threefold. Down by two pawns in a queen endgame, the 32-year-old stopped his clock and informed the arbiter that his next move, 71...Qd5? would be a draw.

















Peter Svidler was quick to spot that the draw claim was correct, but the move is wrong and Le actually needed to play 71...Qe6!. Fortunately, the tournament leader was able to hold his nerves and hold his opponent to a draw.

The defending champion Alireza Firouzja also missed a major opportunity to join Le in the lead following an ambitious queen sacrifice against Wesley So that saw the game spiral out of control.

Firouzja's enjoyment was visible throughout the chaotic clash | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

Continuing purely on their increment, both players were unable to play precisely, and in the end it was Firouzja who needed to find a brilliant move to force a draw.

With the rankings remaining unchanged after two rounds of play, players came out of the woodwork to try and assert their authority on day two. Ray Robson was one such player, and the Puzzle Battle champion saved his best game for a showdown with Firouzja.

Robson ferociously attacked Firouzja's kingside in Round 6 | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

With the white pieces, Robson elected to play the Makogonov Variation, an opening considered to be one the most dangerous setups against the King's Indian Defense, while facing the world's number-one blitz chess player. The opening choice paid off.

A five-pawn storm was on the menu for Robson and after opening up the g-file, he duly converted. Our Game of the Day, which flung Robson to the top of the leaderboard, has been annotated by GM Rafael Leitao.

Le-Caruana was the other important result in terms of the standings in Round 6. After emerging from a Queen's Gambit Declined opening with a slight edge, spectators were surprised to see the Webster University head coach's position collapse in a heap.

The commentators were shocked to find that Caruana had found a way to trick Le into a worse ending, thereby ending his unbeaten run.

To cap off the day, a flagging took place between Sam Sevian and Anish Giri during a completely drawn endgame! Being the presser while up an exchange in the endgame, Sevian was in disbelief that Giri was able to assemble a fortress. Sevian failed to notice when his flag fell on move 89, and the agonizing loss cost the youngster an easy half-point.

Sevian was incredibly unlucky on Day 2 | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

Watch all the games with computer analysis on chess24!

See also

STL Rapid & Blitz 1: Le leads; So, Nepo, Fabi struggle


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