Nakamura Stumbles Late, Aronian Hits Hard to Even Score

Armenia's pride Grandmaster Levon Aronian evened the score for the Showdown in Saint Louis, taking advantage of an endgame misstep by Hikaru Nakamura on Saturday evening.

Hit me once, and I’ll hit you back.

The gloves have come off in Saint Louis, where Levon Aronian hit back hard in the second round to even the score against fellow super Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Aronian had stumbled with an awkward rook retreat in Friday's first round -- but on Saturday, it was the American’s turn to flinch.

Nakamura slipped with 38...a5 in a knight-versus-bishop endgame dripping in variations, allowing White a b-pawn passer that would never be defended. The misstep led to Aronian’s first knockout of the five-round Showdown in Saint Louis, with both players winning their first game as white.

Round 3 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will begin at 2:00 p.m. local on Sunday afternoon, one of only two Classical games left in the match. Tuesday’s fifth round will feature 16 games of Blitz, ultimately deciding the majority cut of the $100,000 purse.

Nakamura vs. Aronian Round 2 Analysis by WGM Jennifer Shahade