2020 Clutch Chess Day 3 Recap


“Overall, a day with a lot of mistakes”, was GM Fabiano Caruana’s summation of day one of the Clutch Chess Finals. The world number two explained that their mistakes were understandable as all the games were complicated and difficult to play with little time on the clock. With a $50,000 prize fund on the line, the players were ready to battle it out to the very end. It's a two-horse race, and the first to reach the magical 9.5 points will clinch the match. Ultimately, GM Wesley So ended the day with the upper hand, going into the final day a point ahead of his rival. Tomorrow promises to be another exciting final day of clutch chess.


Match results after day 1 of the finals

Wesley So vs Fabiano Caruana 4.5-3.5

The day immediately kicked off with enterprising chess. In the first game, Caruana sacrificed three pawns in a Ruy Lopez in exchange for weakening his opponent’s king. So never had a clear path to victory and in fact, had to find only moves to survive at the end. In game two, Caruana again sacrificed a pawn, this time looking for activity for his rooks in a Berlin endgame. His approach paid off this time, after So blundered on move 23, allowing for a beautiful checkmating pattern. Caruana had a great chance to take a two point lead in the next game after So blundered a pawn then failed to capitalize on Caruana’s blunder to win a piece. 

In the aftershow interview, the former US Champion admitted he missed that he could have won a piece, while Caruana realized immediately after the blunder. The game was ultimately drawn in a rook endgame. The final game with regular scoring was a fascinating strategic battle with yet another sacrifice. So gave up the exchange to destroy his opponent’s kingside. Caruana returned the favor and the game petered out to a draw. 

Finally, it was time for the two Clutch Games, where each win is worth two points and an extra $2,000. The first game was the quietest game of the day, ending with a perpetual in 36 moves. So was able to make a comeback in the final game after Caruana played too risky and lost control. This time the sacrifices did not work in his favor as he simply did not get enough compensation for the piece and the attack on his own king that followed. So was quite happy with this result as it was his first clutch win of the event. Caruana felt that a point difference is not too different from having an equal score and predicted that the match will be decided in the final two games.

GMs Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana in deep concentration