After day three, Levon Aronian finds Maxime Vachier-Lagrave next to him on the leaderboard of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour. The French GM lost to Magnus Carlsen but won his last two rapid games take over the number-one position in the rapid live ratings.

After Carlsen’s disappointing first two days in St. Louis, the live broadcast question of the day asked if he could bounce back to win the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. At the end of the day it had become even less likely for the world champion.

In the coming two days of blitz, Carlsen needs to make up five points on both Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave. The Norwegian star initially seemed on the way back as he convincingly defeated MVL after catching him in the opening with the move 8.h3!? in the Moscow Grünfeld with 7…Nc6. Black never really got in the game.

Carlsen Vachier-Lagrave 2019 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. | Photo: Austin Fuller/GrandChess Tour
Carlsen playing the tricky move 8.h3 in the Gruenfeld vs. Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

“I knew what was sort of the right move but then I couldn’t remember the follow-up,” said MVL. “So I decided to go for something else and I got into early trouble.”



However, the next round Carlsen lost to Sergey Karjakin and so his last two opponents in world championship matches, whom he both defeated in the rapid games of the tiebreak to keep his title, took some sort of revenge in this tournament.

Karjakin, who had beaten Carlsen in rapid for the last time in 2010 at the Amber tournament, outplayed his opponent in a Bogo-Indian:



Karjakin-Carlsen 2019 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/GrandChess Tour
A concentrated Karjakin joined the club of players beating Carlsen in St. Louis. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

Carlsen had to settle for a draw against a struggling Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the ninth and last round of rapid.

Aronian started the day well. He defeated Fabiano Caruana (who would lose all his games on Monday) to reach a three-point lead in the standings.



Caruana-Aronian 2019 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/GrandChess Tour
Caruana-Aronian. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

However, a loss to Richard Rapport (who played an excellent game, although he felt he should have converted the rook endgame more quickly) the tournament was wide open again. As Aronian drew with Yu Yangyi in round nine, he still tops the standings but  is now together with MVL.

Rapport revealed that his original flight to the United States had been canceled and as a result he arrived on the first day of play with a “huge jetlag.”

Rapport-Aronian 2019 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/GrandChess Tour
Rapport outplayed Aronian from a Bishop’s Opening. | Photo: Crystal Fuller/Grand Chess Tour.

“I wasn’t expecting anything good but I still was expecting something better than my first two days. Today I think I am starting to get into a better shape,” Rapport said.



Vachier-Lagrave bounced back from his loss to Carlsen with a good win against Leinier Dominguez in a Berlin Endgame (you can find it in the viewer at the end of this article), and then he defeated Caruana as well.



On overtaking Carlsen in the rapid ratings, Vachier-Lagrave said: “Number one in rapid is not really a testimony to my general strength. I’ve always thought that rapid is my worst [time control].”

He pointed out that rapid and blitz ratings are more volatile due to a higher K-factor (the coefficient with which results are multiplied for rating changes) than in classical chess. “I have much more confidence in my blitz skills even after my Paris mishap.”

The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Standings After Rapid.
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Standings after the rapid.

The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour takes place August 10-14 at the Saint Louis Chess Club. After three days of rapid (nine rounds), two days of blitz follow with nine rounds on each day. provides daily coverage on and

Day 3 coverage:

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All games of rapid rounds 7-9 for replay/download:

You can find all games here as part of our live portal. More photos from the event can be found here. The official site is here.

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