With 8 blitz games left to play in final day of the Champions Showdown, chess fans got to witness countless entertaining and heart wrenching battles. Due to the nature of blitz and Chess960, a plethora of blunders and time scrambles were seen across all of the matches.
While no match was fully clinched going into the final day, a number of players did manage to shut out their opponents without much resistance.
Just one minute before the round, Kasparov realized he prepared the wrong starting position. Photo by Eric Rosen
Kasparov vs Topalov
The day got off to a rocky start for the legendary Garry Kasparov. When the new initial position was determined at 12:30 PM, he proceeded to spend 29 minutes accidentally preparing a different position! Having accidentally switched the starting squares of the queen and rook, Kasparov started on the wrong psychological footing.
In the first game, he lost a 15-move miniature to Topalov in what some might call a premature resignation. Despite Kasparov winning a few of the later games, Topalov’s lead was too great. Upon winning game 17, Topalov clinched victory as well as the $30,000 prize.
Topalov bested Kasparov with an overall score of 14.5 to 11.4
Shankland vs Vachier-Lagrave
Sam Shankland had perhaps the roughest day of all the competitors. Upon losing the first 4 games in a row, Shankland was shutout. MVL’s speed and tactical precision was simply overpowering. To make things even worse for the reigning US Champ, he suffered an embarrassing moment in game 18. Upon overlooking mate-in-1, he lost in just 12 moves!
Hopefully Shankland can recover from this disappointing result and show better form in the Olympiad starting later this month.
All credit goes to MVL for playing some of the most exciting and dynamic chess out of all of the competitors.
Aronian vs Dominguez
In similar fashion to MVL’s dominance, Aronian did not loosen the grip over his formidable opponent. With an already crushing score of 12-6 going into the final day, Aronian stayed solid by drawing the first two blitz games and winning the third. This was enough to guarantee himself the $30,000 prize.
So vs Giri
Wesley So accomplished one the of most impressive feats of the event with dropping only one loss out of all four days! Going into the final day with a 11-7 lead, So just needed to stay solid. He did just that with an amusing 7 draws and one win over Giri.
Nakamura vs Svidler
The closest match of the event came down to the final few rounds in which Nakamura needed to score a half point out of the last 3 games to shutout Svidler. In game 18, Nakamura managed to grind down a drawish knight endgame to put his score over the top.
While Chess960 events are still quite scarce across the professional chess landscape, the Champion’s Showdown showed tremendous potential for future events of similar style. The players expressed satisfaction with the event’s unique format. Additionally, chess fans from around the world got to enjoy a great deal of entertainment as the world’s best competed in fresh positions.
Nakamura expressed his hopes for the future: “It’s great to play Fischer Random and I hope there are more events like this.”