RECAP DAY 2 CHAMPIONS SHOWDOWN: CHESS 9LX
Day two had a starting position that looked more normal, but that didn’t stop the players from finding creative ways to play. Fabiano Caruana increased his lead over Garry Kasparov, though the Russian legend did score his first win in the 3rd blitz game. Hikaru Nakamura rebounded after an abysmal first day, but still has a lot of ground to make up against Levon Aronian. Wesley So and Peter Svidler also increased their leads against Veselin Topalov and Leinier Dominguez respectively. Let’s check out the individual matches and break down the action.
Current standings after Day 2
Fabiano Caruana vs. Garry Kasparov
Day two started quite similarly to the first one in this match. Kasparov got a better position in the first rapid game, but Caruana was able to successfully hold a draw. In the 2nd game, Fabiano grabbed a pawn early in the opening and was able to convert it without too many difficulties. The first blitz game saw Kasparov get his first win, and he did it in dominating fashion. He also looked strong in the 2nd blitz game, but a blunder when both players were low on time allowed Fabiano to get the win. This increased his lead to 9 - 3 in the match.
Fabiano once against withstood a lot of pressure from the Russian legend to increase his lead
Wesley So vs. Veselin Topalov
Yesterday Topalov should have certainly scored more points in the rapid, but today the opposite was surely true. The Bulgarian was dead lost for almost the entire first rapid game, but in the end managed to navigate it to a drawn bishop endgame. In the 2nd one, however, So won in fine style with a classy exchange sacrifice. Wesley also scored 1.5/2 in the blitz games. He won the 2nd one with an interesting piece sac that destroyed Topalov’s pawn structure. This puts the American firmly in the driver’s seat with a 8.5 - 3.5 lead.
Topalov was unable to keep up with So on the 2nd day
Leinier Dominguez vs. Peter Svidler
These two started the day with two drawn rapid games, but they weren’t exactly uneventful. The first one was a relatively quiet draw, but in the 2nd game both players had their chances. Svidler could have easily gotten his queen trapped on h1, while in the endgame Dominguez could have ended up in trouble if the Russian had found a couple of accurate moves. While the rapid games were quite close, the blitz games were not. Peter won both of them in rather one-sided fashion, increasing his lead in the match to 8.5 - 3.5.
Leinier held his own in the rapid, but the blitz didn’t go well for the Cuban-American
Hikaru Nakamura vs. Levon Aronian
Hikaru seemed to be completely luckless on day one, and the start of day two wasn’t any better for the U.S. Champion. Nakamura got an edge with black in the first rapid game, both on the board and on the clock. Aronian managed to create some counterplay in a rook endgame and looked to be on his way towards drawing when the American blundered inexplicably and lost. To Hikaru’s credit, he recovered and scored a nice win in the next game, never an easy task when the run of play seems to be completely against you. Nakamura continued the comeback by scoring 1.5/2 in the blitz as well, including a nice win where he chased Aronian’s king to the center of the board. Despite the American getting a plus score for the day, he still has a lot of ground to make up, as he trails the Armenian by a score of 8 to 4.
Aronian still leads in his match against Nakamura, but he’s hardly a shoe-in to win it
Tomorrow the games will begin at 1pm local time. The live broadcast with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley, and WGM Jennifer Shahade starts at 12:50. GMs Alejandro Ramirez and Cristian Chirila will be doing live commentaryat Kingside Diner next to the chess club.