Chess 9LX: Dominguez leads, Kasparov on a roll

by André Schulz
9/10/2021 – Leinier Dominguez scored a perfect 3 out of 3 on the second day of action at the Champions Showdown Tournament, leapfrogging Fabiano Caruana atop the standings table with three rounds to go. Meanwhile, Garry Kasparov collected 2½ points and climbed to shared third place! | Photo: Bryan Adams

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Dominguez wins four in a row

Fabiano Caruana got off to the best start at the Chess960 tournament dubbed “Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX” currently taking place at the Saint Louis Chess Club. The American finished day 1 leading the standings with 2½ points.

At the beginning of the second day, however, Hikaru Nakamura — who had surprisingly gone through the first three rounds without scoring a single point — defeated Caruana. A win against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and a draw with Garry Kasparov prompted Caruana to finish day 2 with 4/6 points in the standings table.

This result was not enough for the American to defend his narrow lead, as Leinier Dominguez scored three wins on Thursday (he had also won his round-3 game against Wesley So) and climbed to sole first place. 

Leinier Dominguez

Leinier Dominguez | Photo: Austin Fuller

Kasparov turns up the pace

Garry Kasparov has fearlessly decided to face the younger generation of top grandmasters.

Since there is no opening theory in Chess 960, the 13th world champion does not have to worry about current theory and can put all his chess understanding on the line. 

On the first day, things did not go so well for Kasparov — he only collected two half points. On the second day, however, things looked much better. Kasparov beat Sam Shankland and Levon Aronian before ending the day with a draw against Caruana. The living legend is currently sharing third place!

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov playing white against Sam Shankland | Photo: Austin Fuller

Tactical shots

The randomized starting positions and the fact that the games are played with a 20-minute time control have resulted in plenty of entertaining, rarely seen tactical motifs. For example, in round 1, So gave up his knight for a kingside attack as early as move 10, with all his remaining pieces still sitting on the first rank!


10.Nf6+ gxf6 11.Qh6 f5 12.Qf6 Ng7 13.Bc3 and White went on to get a remarkable win.

The Filipino-born grandmaster has only won two games so far in the tournament, but both his victories featured eye-catching sequences. He got to sacrifice another knight on round 4!


15.Ndc6+ bxc6 16.Bxc5 Qe6 17.Qe3 — White was clearly in the driver’s seat at this point, but Mamedyarov’s 17...Bc7 only made matters worse for Black. There followed 18.Nxc6+ Kd7 19.Qb3, and White went on to make quick work of his opponent.

Champions Showdown, Chess 9LX, Saint Louis Chess Club

Top grandmasters making sense of the new starting position | Photo: Austin Fuller

Shankland played a surprising queen sacrifice in round 2, which led to Nakamura’s immediate resignation — on move 15!


15...Qxe5 and White resigned due to 16.dxe5 Ne2+ 17.Kc2 Bg6+ and mate next move.

Standings after round 6


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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