2019 Champions Showdown The Kings

2019 Champions Showdown Recap – Day 2

Day two saw more riveting chess, as two players tried to make a comeback, while the other matches started the day as a close competition. After a tough start, Shankland and Harikrishna trailed 7-1 against Rapport and Caruana respectively. Topalov and So started the day with the minimum advantage while Duda and Nakamura came in tied 4-4.

2019 Champions Showdown Recap – Day 1

Day one of the 2019 edition of the Champions Showdown kicked off with fireworks and excitement. What’s unique about this particular event is the number of fresh faces who made their debut in Saint Louis, who otherwise don’t get many opportunities to share the stage with the very best in the world. Both the newcomers and the veterans showed their mettle and determination to outplay their opponents.

Richard Rapport

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2708
Federation: 
Hungary
Age: 
22
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Hungary is a country with a strong chess tradition that has had its share of prodigies, and this 22-year-old is no exception.  Born in Szombathely, Hungry, in 1996, Rapport learned chess from his father at the age of four. He won the 2006 European Championships in the U10 division.  His rise was meteoric after that, achieving National Master, International Master, and Grandmaster in three successive years from 2008-2010. His final Grandmaster norm was scored by tying for 2nd at the Gotth’Art Kupa, perhaps fittingly with GM Lajos Portisch, one of the strongest players to ever come out of Hungary.  Richard got the title just short of his 14th birthday, becoming the 5th youngest GM in history at that time, which is nearly six months faster than his famous compatriot Peter Leko.

Rapport’s career continued to skyrocket after becoming a Grandmaster.  In May of 2013, he tied for first at the Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament with strong GMs Nigel Short and Nils Grandelius, with Richard winning on tiebreaks due to a head-to-head score.  The young Hungarian also won the European Rapid Championship and finished 4th in the European Blitz Championship, and is known to be especially dangerous at quicker time controls.  Rapport won a match in 2016 against Chinese prodigy Wei Yi, taking it in an Armageddon game after the two elite Grandmasters were neck and neck throughout the match.  Richard is also the 2017 Hungarian Champion. Known for his unpredictable openings as well as unpredictable results, when on form, he is truly capable of beating anyone, as shown when he defeated World Champion Magnus Carlsen at the 2017 Tata Steel Tournament.  The mercurial Hungarian will be a fun player to keep an eye on at the Champions Showdown.

Sam Shankland

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2622
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
27
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Born in 1991, in Berkeley, California, Sam learned how to play chess at the age of six but did not become a tournament player until the age of eleven. Even with his relatively late start, Sam rose to prominence quickly, earning the title of the Grandmaster in 2001 and establishing himself as one of the top American players.

After losing his first two games in the 2010 US Junior Championship, he went on to win six out of the remaining seven games. He earned the title of the US Junior champion by defeating Ray Robson in the playoffs and thus qualifying to the 2011 US Championship, where he finished third.

Two years later, Sam won the prestigious Samford Fellowship and made his debut for the US national team in the Pan American Team Championship, showing a performance of over 2800. The following year he returned as part of the Olympiad team, where he took gold for his performance as reserve player. He went undefeated, scoring 9/10, including a last round win over the legendary Judit Polgar. Sam played fourth board in the 2016 Chess Olympiad, winning team gold.

2018 was a breakthrough year in his career. In April, he won the US Championship ahead of Caruana, Nakamura, and So, crossing the 2700 rating barrier for the first time. In the next months, he won the Capablanca Memorial and the American Continental Chess Championship, which earned him a spot to the 2019 World Cup. Since crossing 2700, Sam has reached the rating of 2731 which puts him in the top 25 in the world.

Veselin Topalov

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2717
Federation: 
Bulgaria
Age: 
43
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Veselin Topalov is a chess legend with accomplishments so extensive it is nearly impossible to list them all. A chess prodigy, Topalov earned the title of Grandmaster at the age of 17 in 1992 and ascended the world rankings in the next ten years, being invited to elite tournaments as early as 1996.

The Bulgarian No. 1 became the FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2005. He lost his title in the 2006 World Chess Championship unification match against Vladimir Kramnik and was also narrowly defeated by Vishy Anand in their match for the World Chess Championship title in 2010. Topalov has competed at nine Chess Olympiads (1994-2000, 2008-2016), winning the gold medal on board one, with the second best overall tournament performance of 2872 in the 2014 Olympiad in Tromso.

Topalov has won countless super tournaments including in Linares, Corus, Dortmund, Stavanger and Pearl Spring. His most recent super tournament win was the 2015 Norway Chess, ahead of Carlsen, Caruana and Anand. As a father of two, Topalov has been inactive in the recent years and prefers to play in tournaments with faster time controls.

Leinier Dominguez

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2816
Federation: 
USA
Age: 
35
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Leinier is a Cuban born super grandmaster, earning the title in 2001. He is a five-time Cuban Champion, earning the titles in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2016. He competed in  two FIDE World Championship, reaching the quarterfinals in 2004 where he lost to Teimour Radjabov in tiebreaks. He won the Capabalanca memorial for the first time the same year, and two more times after that in 2008 and 2009.

In 2013, he won the FIDE Grand Prix event in Thessaloniki ahead of the likes of Caruana, Nakamura and Topalov, earning 30 rating points. The following year, he reached his peak FIDE rating of 2768. His current rating of 2739 puts him in the top 20 list of the strongest players in the world. Leinier has represented Cuba on board one at the Olympiad for many years, earning a silver medal in the 2016 Olympiad in Baku. He is also a former World Blitz Champion, winning the title in 2013 in Kazakhstan.

Dominguez is a familiar face in Saint Louis, having participated in previous editions of the Champions Showdown as well as being a wildcard in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. He was part of the team that assisted Fabiano Caruana during the 2018 Candidates tournament and the 2018 World Championship Match. He officially switched federations in December of 2018 and this event will be his first appearance under the US flag.

David Navara

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2688
Federation: 
Czech Republic
Age: 
33
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

David is one of the most beloved and good natured players, who is always eager to answer questions and provide game analysis. He is an eight-time Czech Champion (in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017)  and the highest rated player in his country. He has won several medals in youth categories before receiving the title of  Grandmaster three days before his seventeenth birthday.

Navara has been board one of the Czech National Team since 2006, showing a great performance with 8.5/12 in the 2006 Chess Olympiad. His introduction to the elite tournaments happened in 2007, when he replaced Alexander Morozevich in Wijk an Zee challengers group. He tied for first in 2011, qualifying to group “A.” The same year he reached the quarterfinals in the World Cup, losing to none other than Alexander Grischuk. Since 2003, David has participated in several matches against top players winning against Sergei Movsesian and Nigel Short and drawing Anatoly Karpov and Boris Gelfand.  He reached his peak rating of 2751 in May 2015 and is currently number 18 in the world with a classical rating of 2738.

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