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Champions Showdown 2021 R1-3: Caruana takes sole lead 2.5/3

by Shahid Ahmed - 09/09/2021

Champions Showdown 2021 Chess 9LX returns to over-the-board after last year it had to be conducted online due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Fabiano Caruana scored an unbeaten 2.5/3 on the first day to take the sole lead. Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov and Shankland are at shared second place 2.0/3. So started the day with a beautiful combination against MVL, then he survived a massive scare against Kasparov in the following round. Mamedyarov was the only player to score a win against Kasparov so far in the third round. Aronian, So and Leinier are at 1.5/3, Svidler and Kasparov at 1.0/3 each respectively. Nakamura is at the last place, yet to score a point. Round 4 resumes tonight from 12:30 a.m. IST. Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club

A tough start for Nakamura

Nakamura had a forgettable start as he lost all three games on the first day including a 15-move loss against Shankland. He is the only player who is yet to score in the tournament so far.

Caruana gained sole lead 2.5/3 | Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club

Round 1: So - Vachier-Lagrave: 1-0

So made a beautiful combination which gave him a decisive advantage.

Position after 8...0-0

8...0-0 is a mistake, as White has something up his sleeve. Find out what it is.

So outplayed MVL right out of the opening | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Round 2: Leinier - Caruana: 0-1

Caruana completely dominated Leinier.

Leinier stood no chance against Caruana | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Svidler - Aronian: 1-0

Svidler's attack proved too strong for Aronian to thwart.

Svidler scored a very nice win against Aronian | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Nakamura - Shankland: 1-0

Nakamura made a rare tactical blunder and immediately resigned after 15 moves.

Position after 14.Nxe5

14.Nxe5 is a mistake because after 14...Bxe5, White is forced to recapture with the pawn 15.dxe5 and then White's position becomes uncomfortable. Nakamura blundered 15.Rxe5 which allowed Shankland to take the rook 15...Qxe5 as 16.dxe5 leads to checkmate 16...Ne2+ 17.Kc2 Bg6+ and mate is inevitable.

It is not everyday Nakamura blunders and loses a game in 15 moves | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Vachier-Lagrave - Mamedyarov: 1-0

Vachier-Lagrave scored a very nice win over Mamedyarov.

Kasparov - So: 0.5-0.5

So got an early an opportunity against Kasparov.

Position after 11.Nf6

Try to find out what opportunity Black had in the above position. This was the only good chance So had in the game to gain substantial advantage.

Position after 36...cxb5

Kasparov had a decisive advantage for the better part of the game. The best opportunity he had was in the queen endgame. 37.e6 is complete winning for White. However, he played 37.Qa5 and allowed So to escape with a draw via 37...Qh7.

It is always a treat to watch Kasparov in action | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Round 3: So - Leinier: 0-1

So suffered his first loss of the event against Leinier after making a terrible mistake.

Position after 23.Bg5

Find out why 23.Bg5 is a big mistake.

Leinier finished the day with the same score as So 1.5/3 | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Mamedyarov - Kasparov: 1-0

Mamedyarov found a nice tactics to gain decisive advantage against Kasparov.

Position after 23...Bxg5

Black needed to play 23...Rxg5 because the text allows White to do a neat combination 24.Ng6+ hxg6 25.Bxg5 e3+ 26.Kg1 gxh5 27.Rxh5+ and it's all over for Black.

Mamedyarov is the only one to beat Kasparov on the first day | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Shankland - Vachier-Lagrave: 0-1

Shankland went wrong early in the game.

Position after 9...Nc5

The game continued 10.dxc5 and things slowly spiraled out of control for White after 10...Bxd5.

Position after 19.Kc1

Find out the finish for Black after 19.Kc1.

Shankland's hat-trick got spoiled by Vachier-Lagrave | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Aronian - Nakamura: 1-0

Aronian handed Nakamura his third consecutive defeat of the day.

Position after 25.c5

What a beautiful break by White 25.c5. Black took with the d-pawn 25...dxc5 26.Bxc5 bxc5 27.Rxc5 and White is completely winning.

Aronian scored 1.5/3 on the first day | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club

Caruana - Svidler: 1-0

Caruana scored a fine victory over Svidler who blundered in the rook and few pawns endgame.

Replay all Round 1-3 games from Day 1

Replay the live stream

Live commentary by GM Alejandro Ramirez and GM Maurice Ashley | Video: Saint Louis Chess Club

Standings after Round 3

Caruana takes a sole lead 2.5/3 | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club


Sept. 9 12:15 a.m. Reveal Position
Sept. 9 12:30 a.m. 9LX Round 1
Sept. 9 1:30 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 9 1:45 a.m. 9LX Round 2
Sept. 9 2:45 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 9 3:00 a.m. 9LX Round 3
Sept. 10  12:15 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 10  12:30 a.m. 9LX Round 4
Sept. 10  1:30 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 10  1:45 a.m. 9LX Round 5
Sept. 10  2:45 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 10  3:00 a.m. 9LX Round 6
Sept. 11  12:15 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 11  12:30 a.m. 9LX Round 7
Sept. 11 1:30 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 11  1:45 a.m. 9LX Round 8
Sept. 11  2:45 a.m. Draw for Position
Sept. 11  3:00 a.m. 9LX Round 9

Play-off (if needed) - 11 September at 4:00 a.m. Time is in IST


Total Prize Fund: US$150,000

Place Prize
1st $37,500
2nd $25,000
3rd $20,000
4th $15,000
5th $12,500
6th $10,000
7th $7,500
8th $7,500
9th $7,500
10th $7,500


Tournament site

Tournament Regulations

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