Shuffle Up and Mate: Kasparov Headlines Champions Showdown

The Champions Showdown (September 11-14), now underway is Saint Louis, is headlined by 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov, who came out of retirement last year to play the 2017 Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz.

A little over a year later, Garry entered the arena at the Saint Louis Chess Club again, to play chess 960, also known as Fischer Random chess, against Veselin Topalov.

Four other matches feature other elite Grandmasters, including three members of the US Olympic team, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura and US Champion Sam Shankland.

The showdown, held over four days, features three days of rapid and blitz (Tuesday through Thursday) and an all-blitz day on Friday, September 14th.

The first of five random positions was drawn at Noon Central Time on Tuesday, September 11, by Saint Louis Chess Club Executive Director Tony Rich.

The thrilling starting position of the Champions Showdown allowed castling as early as move one. Photo Lennart Ootes

There are so many appealing first moves in this rich position.

In the booth, Yasser Seirawan called for 1.e4, and Garry Kasparov agreed.

Most of the games featured 1.c4 today, though Nakamura thought Peter Svidler’s 1.f4, played in their second blitz game, may have been the best move of all.

The headliner match saw Kasparov off to a rough start when he lost the second rapid game.

Kasparov made a big comeback in the final blitz game of the day, but not without some turnarounds.

Because the rapid games count for double the blitz games, Kasparov still trails by the smallest possible margin (3.5-2.5) going into day two.

Wesley So had a spectacular day, and enjoys the biggest lead of the event over Anish Giri (4.5-1.5, with rapid games counting for two points each.)

Hikaru Nakamura leads 3-2 against Peter Svidler in a very entertaining and friendly match.

Sam Shankland drew both rapid games to Maxime Vachier Lagrave, but faltered in both blitz games. The first one was a stunner.

Levon Aronian leads 3.5-2.5 over Leinier Dominguez with Levon winning the first rapid game, and Leinier narrowing the match with a final round blitz win.

Follow along daily at at 12:50 CT, 1:50 ET, featuring live commentary with Maurice Ashley, Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan. Use the hashtag #ChampionsShowdown to interact on twitter, where IM Eric Rosen has taken over the official feed. 


  1. Let’s dumb down the royal game to either this or bughouse, shall we? Perhaps the $ would be better spent helping high quality tournaments such as US Masters and Washington International have better prize funds — of course these elite types never enter those tourneys! 🙁

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