2023 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX - Day 2 Recap

by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Levon Aronian and Sam Sevian managed to overtake the lead after an exciting Day 2 in the 2023 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX, going into the final rounds tomorrow with 4.5/6. A full point behind the leaders are Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Sam Shankland, each with 3.5/6, while former World Champion Garry Kasparov stumbled after leading Day 1, scoring only 0.5/3 to end the day on 3.0/6.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The event features Chess 960 (aka Fischer Random), a chess variant where the starting position of the pieces is randomized along the first rank. The tournament format is a 10-player round-robin, with a time control of 20 minutes per side with a 5-second increment.

Standings after Day 2


The first round of the day saw Kasparov close to defeating Aronian, but failing to convert a knight endgame which eventually ended in a draw. In the meantime, Sevian started off strong against So, winning a pawn and obtaining a decisive advantage right out of the opening before finishing things off in style:

Sevian - So: 33.Qf6+! forced resignation as White mates after 33...Nxf6 34.Rxd8+ (and h8=Q next)

A surprise leader? According to Shankland, Sevian "plays the most Fischer Random, he's really good at it." | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Also winning in nice fashion was Shankland, who found a powerful sacrifice to launch an irresistible attack against Dominguez:

Shankland-Dominguez: 22.Rxh7! lead to a quick finish after 22...Kxh7 23.Qh1+ (with Nf6 to come)

Shankland would go on to defeat Nakamura in Round 6, finishing the day on +1. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes


In the next round Kasparov would lose his first game of the event, after flagging in a worse position against Jeffery Xiong. This gave Sevian the chance to get ahead, as he drew with Black against Nakamura, while Aronian managed to defeat Dominguez to join Sevian in the lead with 3.5/5.

An excellent 2.5/3 on the day for Aronian. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes


The final round of the day saw five decisive games, with Sevian winning a close pawn race in the endgame against Robson to continue his surge, while Aronian risked it all against Xiong with a creative piece sacrifice, which ended up paying off in victory for Levon:

Aronian-Xiong: 18.Ngf5!? wasn't loved by the engines, but posed severe practical problems for Black.

Other results saw Shankland defeating Nakamura, So winning against Dominguez, and Caruana managing to flip the tables in the endgame after getting a much worse position against Kasparov.

After a brilliant Day 1, Kasparov failed to capitalize on his chances today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Pairings for Round 7

The 2023 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX concludes tomorrow, September 10th, with coverage starting at 1:50 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, Grandmaster Cristian Chirila, and International Master Nazi Paikidze on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.