2020 Clutch Chess Day 2 Recap


After another exciting day of rapid chess, rivals and Olympiad teammates GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Wesley So will face off in the finals of Clutch Chess. Caruana found himself in hot water in several of the games but the 5 point lead was too much for Leinier Dominguez to overcome. Wesley So, on the other hand, entered the day a full point behind Hikaru Nakamura but quickly turned the score around in the first half. 

Nakamura and Dominguez were rewarded $10,000 each for their efforts, with an extra $2,000 going to Nakamura for his clutch win in round 6. Caruana and So will go on to battle it out for the next two days for a total prize fund of $50,000, with $30,000 going to the winner, as well as $18,000 total in bonus prizes for the clutch games.

Match results after day 2

Fabiano Caruana vs Leinier Dominguez 12 - 3

While the final score implies domination by Caruana it does not tell the full story. Yesterday, Caruana was in the driver’s seat in most of the games with both colors, showing great preparation and time management whereas today he was on the defensive in most of the games. Dominguez attributed his result to his inability to play well when low on time even though he had good positions out of the openings. At the same time, he praised his opponent for his strong play and opening ideas. Caruana echoed Dominguez’ remarks regarding the positions he found himself in today, admitting that he resorted to the French Defense in the last game because he felt “cornered” in the Berlin endgame. After drawing the first two games, Dominguez scored the first victory in the third game. Caruana’s tenacious defense paid off handsomely, as not only was he able to find remarkable resources to keep the game going, but ultimately managed to win after his opponent’s final blunder. The world number two only needed a draw in the next two games to qualify but went on to win both, thus collecting a bonus of $6,000 for winning the clutch games bringing his total bonus to $10,000

 Final moments of game 12 between Dominguez and Caruana


Wesley So vs Hikaru Nakamura 9.5 - 8.5

The match between Nakamura and So was a lot closer as indicated by the result. Nakamura felt that he would have lost the match earlier were it not for the format. The reigning US Chess Champion entered the day with a point lead thanks to the last round win yesterday that awarded him two points. So was quite disheartened after that loss but his recipe for success was 13 hours of sleep the night before a crucial day. The first four games had a decisive result with three of them ending in less than 25 moves. After losing the first three, Nakamura kept his chances alive with a 21 move miniature win. He was a point behind with two clutch games to go where each win was worth 3 points and a draw was 1.5. It all came down to the wire as So drew the first game comfortably with the white pieces. He defended tenaciously in the final game and even had the upper hand at some point but settled for a draw that allowed him the qualification to the finals. Since both clutch games ended peacefully, the bonus $6,000 will be rolled over to games 11 and 12 in the finals.

Wesley So plays a brilliant move in game 7