Struggles and triumphs at St Louis Fischer Random Chess 960

No player is completely shut out

Day 3 Recap

Day 3 of the Champions Chess 960 Showdown showed clear leaders emerging from all of the matches, with some extending their leads quite far. Upon the selection of another random chess position, the players delved into their usual analysis. The selected position wasn’t so random however for Sam Shankland, as he played a series of training games in the exact position in preparation for the event. With 960 different possible setups, the odds of having prior knowledge in one specific position is quite slim. Sam’s eyes lit up when he realized this was the case, and he was happy to share his knowledge with his US Olympiad teammates.

Shankland realizes he’s prepared the exact starting chess position

Going into games, it was interesting to see if Sam’s prior knowledge would pay off for himself or his compatriots, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So.

Vachier-Lagrave vs Shankland

MVL and Shankland were quite tight in competition with the Frenchman leading by just 1 point entering day 3.

Unfortunately for Shankland, his prior knowledge of the position had no positive impact on the result. MVL cruised to victory in 3 out of the 4 games. In game 10, MVL displayed impressive chess endgame technique in grinding down a knight endgame with equal pawns. The final stage of the game involved winning knight+pawn versus knight where Sam’s king and knight were too far away to defend against MVL’s lone passed pawn. With a current score of 11.5-6.5, Sam is going to need a miracle tomorrow if he wants to rebound in this match.

Shankland’s preparation didn’t help him in today’s match; photo by Eric Rosen

Aronian vs Dominguez

With an 8-4 score in favor of Levon Aronian going into day 3, the Armenian continued his dominant ways, scoring another two victories today. Despite Dominguez’s beautiful combination to win game 12, Aronian leads the match with an insurmountable score of 12-6.

Out of all the chess 960 matches, Aronian has the largest lead.

Aronian will need to gather just 1.5 points out of 7 games tomorrow to take home the $30,000 prize.

Wesley So - Anish Giri

With a crushing score of 9-3 going into day 3, it was clear that Wesley So is a tough opponent for Anish Giri. Today however, Anish overcame a severe time deficit in the first rapid game to score his first victory of the match. Perhaps his stylish chess shirt was much needed good luck charm. With a still dominant score of 11-7, Anish still has a lot of coming back to do in the eight blitz games tomorrow.

Even though Anish Giri trails in the match, that doesn’t stop him from being stylish!

Topalov vs Kasparov

With a commanding 8-4 lead for Topalov coming into the third day, Kasparov was desperate to score some points. Despite some hiccups, Kasparov did manage to outscore topalov and have his best day of the event so far. In the the first rapid game, he seemed to find his exceptional form and create incredible harmony amongst his pieces. In the end, Topalov’s rook was not enough for Kasparov’s knight and 3 pawns. While Kasparov still trails 7.5-10.5, he’s within striking distance of making a splash tomorrow.

The legend showing his intensity

Nakamura vs Svidler

What has been the closest match throughout the event, still remains a nail biter. Coming into day 3, Nakamura and Svidler were dead even at 6 points each. After 4 more chess 960 games, it was Nakamura who came out slightly ahead against the 8-time Russian Champion. In the post-game interview with Maurice Ashley, Svidler described his play: “Today I really felt like I was not in control whatsoever and I’m very lucky to be in it somehow.”

Nakamura has a 1-point lead over Svidler going into the final day.

Although Nakamura is a speed specialist, Svidler has been impressing the fans and even himself in the blitz portion of the event. With 8 blitz games left to play tomorrow, it is bound to be a close finale.

The fourth and final day will see a different format as players will compete in two unique starting positions across 8 blitz games. No player is completely shut out, so the final day is bound to produce some epic chess battles. Viewers can follow the live broadcast starting at 12:50 PM central time.

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