Champions Showdown: Three winners, Carlsen dominates

by André Schulz
11/13/2017 – Three matches of the Champions Showdown in St. Louis are over: Hikaru Nakamura crushed Veselin Topalov, Wesley So needed an incredible comeback to defeat Leinier Dominguez, and Fabiano Caruana won a close match against Alexander Grischuk. Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren still play, but Carlsen dominates. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Champions Showdown, Day 4

The Saint Louis Chess Club hosts a series of four matches, the Champions Showdown, November 9th to14. In an exciting twist, the three top American players and current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, face their opponents in 10 games of rapid and 20 games of blitz.

The matches

  • Hikaru Nakamura (won) vs. Veselin Topalov
  • Fabiano Caruana (won) vs. Alexander Grischuk
  • Wesley So (won) vs. Leinier Dominguez
  • Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren (through November 14)


  • Thursday Nov. 9th —  G/30 Rounds 1 - 4 (except for Carlsen vs. Ding)
  • Friday Nov. 10th — G/20 Rounds 1 - 6
  • Saturday Nov. 11th 1 - 5:30 PM G/10 Rounds 1 - 8 & Carlsen vs. Ding G/30 Rounds 1 - 4
  • Sunday Nov. 12th — G/5 Rounds 1 - 12 & Carlsen vs. Ding Liren G/20 Rounds 1 - 6
  • Monday Nov. 13th  — Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren G/10 Rounds 1 - 8
  • Tuesday Nov. 14th — Magnus Carlsen vs. Ding Liren G/5 Rounds 1-12

No delay or increment will be used. Wins are weighted depending on the time control. Game 30 wins are worth 5 points with draws worth 2½ points. Game 20 wins are worth 4 points, with draws adding 2 points. In Game 10, a draw nets 1½ and a win 3 points.

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The matches

Caruana vs. Grischuk

Fabiano Caruana vs Alexander Grischuk | Photo: Lennart Ootes

For a long time the match between Fabiano Caruana and Alexander Grischuk had been rather balanced. But in the 5-minute-games Caruana got the better of Grischuk, the three-time World Champion in blitz chess, and decided the match in his favour.

All Games


So Dominguez

Wesley So vs Leinier Domnguez | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The match between Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez took a different course. The Cuban had been clearly dominating the first part of the match and was leading by a huge margin. But in the 10-minute and the 5-minute games So suddenly surged to form, winning one game after the next and finally the match.

All Games


Nakamura Topalov

Hikaru Nakamura vs Veselin Topalov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The match between Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov was rather one-sided. Nakamura later admitted that the final result was too high and that Topalov missed a couple of good or very good chances. But the Bulgarian again and again blundered, sometimes in incredible fashion.


In this position Topalov played 76...Ne5??, probably because he suffered from the illusion that the knight on e5 would check White's king. Nakamura hesitated for the blink of an eye but then grabbed Black's bishop on b8. 77.Nxb8. Topalov had been winning but now the position is drawn. However, the game was not over yet. After 77...g5 78.hxg5 Kf7 79.Kf4 Nd3+ 80.Ke4 Ne1 81.Nc6 Nxg2 82.Ne5+ Ke6 83.Nf3 the following position arose on the board:


With only seconds on the clock Topalov, who just wanted to make a move, any move, grabbed his knight and only then realised what he had done: the knight has no square to move to. Topalov hesitated a few seconds before accepting the inevitable: he then played 83...Nh4 but immediately resigned after 84.Nxh4.

The drama on film

Power Play 14 - Test Your Tactics

On this DVD Grandmaster Daniel King:
● demonstrates typical tactical patterns
● shows how strong players use their tactical awareness
● puts your tactical abilities to the test — but this is a test with a difference. Although the emphasis is on tactics, there are also positions that require a strategic solution. You don’t know what’s coming next...

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Ding Carlsen

Ding Liren vs Magnus Carlsen | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The match between World Champion Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren began with three draws but than Carlsen began to dominate the Chinese number one. He won game four of the 30-minute games with a typical Carlsen endgame grind and on day two the World Champion won three of the six 20-minute games and now leads 30½ : 13½.

Carlsen dominated in the endgame and in the middlegame. Two examples:


The Nimzoindian Defence — The easy way

Danish GM Jacob Aagaard introduces you to the secrets of the Nimzoindian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4). In 15 lessons that last 4 hours and 4 minutes Aagaard shows you how you can successfully play this opening by understanding key ideas instead of memorizing long tedious variations.


All Games



Carlsen Ding standings

Today and tomorrow Carlsen and Ding Liren play the 10-minute and the 5-minute games.

Day 4 on video

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.

On-demand playlist

Illustrating the effect of no increment time control, last week GM commentators Alejandro Ramirez and Christian Chrila played a trio of bullet games.

You can also find each days complete commentary in the playlist menu (click or tap the icon in the upper left of the video player).

2017 Champions Showdown playlist | Source: CCSCSL on YouTube

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


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


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