Day 2 of the Champions Showdown was filled with blunders and brilliancies as players battled it out from a fresh starting position. At 12 PM, players huddled around the laptop as Tony Rich revealed the initial setup that would be played for the next 4 games.
Once the players got an eye of the position, they scurried to their analysis boards for an hour of preparation before the round. Players formed small analysis groups to collaborate on opening preparation. Peter Svidler was ecstatic to sit down with the legendary Garry Kasparov. In his post-game interview with Maurice Ashley, he said, “Today was an extremely good day for me because I got to discuss chess with Garry. It’s difficult to describe how good this makes me feel.”
Meanwhile, the US olympiad teammates Nakamura, So, and Shankland continued to show great comradery.
The US Olympiad team continues to show team comradery
By the end of the day, some matches tightened up, while others became much more lopsided.
Topalov vs Kasparov
Going into the day, Topalov had a 1-point lead over Kasparov with an overall score of 3.5-2.5. Over the course of the 4 games, Topalov showed strong form, scoring 2 wins and 2 draws. In the first rapid game, Topalov had outplayed his legendary counterpart, but then made the embarrassing mistake of promoting a pawn, hitting the clock, and failing to replace it with a queen-- an illegal move! At this point, Kasparov was lost, and knew additional time would do him no good. He went ahead and resigned, while Topalov appeared completely flustered. It was a confusing finish, but certainly entertaining for the fans!
Topalov makes an illegal move and Kasparov Resigns!
Aronian vs Dominguez
After a strong performance yesterday, netting a 3.5-2.5 lead, Aronian continued the momentum into the second day. Out of the four games, there never seemed to be a point where Aronian was in trouble. He managed to win both games with white and draw both games with black.
Aronian contiues to lead
In game 3, Aronian played the electrifying 25.Rxh6!? which was quite reminiscent of his rook sac against Grischuk in the last round of the Sinquefield Cup. After turning down the sacrifice, Dominguez was completely overwhelmed by Aronian’s attack.
With an overall score of 8-4 in favor of Aronian, Dominguez will need to start racking together some wins if he wants to launch a comeback.
So vs Giri
With a dominant performance yesterday, scoring 4.5-1.5, Wesley So extended his lead even further today with two very convincing wins. With both victories, So achieved better piece harmony and more activity straight from the opening. Perhaps it goes to show why he enjoys Chess 960 so much! Without any Najdorf or Grunfeld theory to rely on, Giri has yet to win a game in this matchup.
Giri has yet to win a game in this matchup
MVL vs Shankland
Despite playing some of the most dazzling chess of the event, MVL let his 4-2 lead slip today as Shankland shifted the momentum. In game 1, MVL suffered from a disastrous opening as he allowed the simple fork, 8.Qb5! attacking two undefended pawns. By move 9, he was completely lost, as his rook was trapped and had nowhere near enough compensation for the material deficit.
MVL and Shankland continue to excite fans with their game play
In game 3, Shankland showed high level technique, as he defended a rook versus rook+bishop endgame with less than 15 seconds on his clock.
While, Sam admits that his opponent is a more talented blitz player and an incredibly dangerous tactician, the match is now neck and neck at 6.5-5.5. With many more games to be played, everything is up for grabs over the next couple days.
Nakamura vs Svidler
With a solid showing yesterday, Nakamura entered day 2 with a 3.5-2.5 lead over the 8-time Russian Champion. Despite feeling “unprepared” in the opening (perhaps something unusual for chess 960), Svidler held his own and drew the first 3 games.
In game 4, Nakamura had a chance to seize a large advantage, but slipped up in time pressure. In the end, it was Svidler who took home the point and tied the match up with 6 points each.
Day 2 results
After two thrilling days of Chess 960, the next two days are highly anticipated. Chess fans can find more information and follow all the action live on uschesschamps.com.