Carlsen, Nakamura Share Chess9LX Victory
Carlsen and Nakamura in February 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen, Nakamura Share Chess9LX Victory

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Hikaru Nakamura both won $31,250 as they shared the first prize in the online Chess9LX tournament. The two grandmasters scored 6/9 in a tournament that had no tiebreak regulations.

GM Levon Aronian, who was leading the tournament after day two, only scored 1/3 and finished half a point behind the winners.

GM Garry Kasparov played three draws on the final day to end in eighth place with 3.5/9. GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave finished on a high note as they both scored 2.5/3.

Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1-2 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 2903 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 6.0/9 25.25
1-2 Carlsen, Magnus 2881 2897 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 6.0/9 24.5
3-4 Aronian, Levon 2778 2867 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 5.5/9 22.5
3-4 Caruana, Fabiano 2773 2867 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 5.5/9 20.75
5 So, Wesley 2741 2831 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 5.0/9
6-7 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2786 2750 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 4.0/9 17.25
6-7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2860 2741 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 4.0/9 16.75
8 Kasparov, Garry 2783 2710 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 3.5/9
9 Svidler, Peter 2742 2673 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 3.0/9
10 Firouzja, Alireza 2703 2632 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 ½ 2.5/9

Both Carlsen and Nakamura won one game and drew two on the final day. First, it was Carlsen who joined Aronian in the lead after round seven. While the Armenian grandmaster drew with Kasparov, Carlsen beat GM Peter Svidler:

It's unclear whether Vachier-Lagrave will be playing any chess until the Candidates resumes, so it was nice for him to have a good last day. Here's his win from round seven against GM Leinier Dominuez.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
We might not see Vachier-Lagrave play again until the Candidates. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Nakamura scored his win in round five against GM Alireza Firouzja. It was one of several games where the Iranian prodigy spoiled a very promising position.

"I think the quality of my game was not very bad, but I should’ve gotten better results because I messed up so many winning positions," Firouzja said after the last round. He's already looking forward to the other tournament organized by the Saint Louis Chess Club that starts on Tuesday: "I hope this experience helps me for the rapid and blitz event."

Alireza Firouzja Chess9LX
"Firouzja: It was a great honor for me to play." Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Nakamura pointed out that both he and Carlsen probably had mixed feelings because they each had winning positions in the last round. He then reflected on what effect the different starting positions have on the players' minds:

"Like with all 960 positions, it seems like when you get an advantage early on, it’s there for like one or two moves, and if you miss it, you still have to play the game. It’s not like in a normal game where you get a middle game and something happens.... If you have a chance, you have it, but if it’s gone, it’s still pretty stable because you’re out of the opening phase, whereas in 960, it happens in the opening phase so when you get it and then you don’t convert and you mess it up, you still have to play the game. I think it’s very hard psychologically. I think many players had great positions, and then they messed up, and as the game kept rolling, it’s hard not to just be discouraged and mess up."

Hikaru Nakamura Chess960 Chess9LX
Nakamura providing some Chess960 psychological insights. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Carlsen could have gotten clear first, but close to the end of his last game, he missed a win against Aronian.

"It was definitely a pity because I feel like I played a pretty decent positional game up to a certain point," Carlsen said. "Then it got a little bit out of hand, and right at the end there was just a simple oversight. Those things happen, of course. My disgust with the last game was obviously quite a bit less when I saw that [Nakamura] hadn’t won. That helped."

Like in many events earlier this summer, Carlsen and Nakamura together ended on top. The world champion praised his rival: "I am very impressed by what he did. He lost the first game to Dominguez and then, to come back.... Obviously, he had me kind of on the ropes as well, so if he had won that game, he would have won outright. He keeps finding ways to beat these guys, and the way he’s playing currently is very impressive."

Magnus Carlsen Chess9LX
Carlsen had been looking over his right shoulder many times this tournament. Eventually, he revealed with a smile that he had been watching football, basketball, and tennis on a big TV during his games. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club. 

In the end, this Chess960 tournament stood out for the simple fact that Kasparov played. Although his results are nowhere near the ones from his best days, the fans (including his fellow grandmasters!) still enjoy his participation a lot.

Kasparov finished with three draws, about which he said: "I had to recover from the disaster yesterday, so that’s why I wanted to play very solid chess."

He again mentioned his dreadful premove error against Caruana: "As somebody joked on Twitter, computers hate me!"

Kasparov Chess9LX
Kasparov: "Computers hate me!" Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Kasparov also revealed that he had played a 16-game training match with Svidler before the event and stated that he played much better chess there. So why didn't it work this weekend?

"Probably it’s very difficult to get yourself into the right mood when you play and you know people are watching. Somehow, if nobody is watching, I could feel much better."

Somehow, if nobody is watching, I could feel much better.
—Garry Kasparov

It's nice to know that these training games might actually be published. Kasparov said that if Svidler agrees, he’s happy to publish them: "Some of them made me very proud. I wish I could do the same kind of magic here."

That he's still enjoying chess became clear once again when he showed a nice piece of analysis from his round-five game with Dominguez:

But, alas, we probably won't see Kasparov play more than once a year. As he said:

"I am an amateur. My life is full with many other things, and I’m trying to find time to practice and to play chess. I know people are happy to see me play. I hope I do not disappoint them. I had fun and as long as I’m having some fun and people are happy, I will keep doing this."

Chess9LX, Day 3 | All games

The Chess9LX tournament was played September 11-13 on lichess for a $150,000 prize fund. The time control was 20 minutes plus a 10-second increment.

On Tuesday the rapid and blitz event, with many of the same players, will start. Neither Kasparov nor Caruana will be there. The latter is already in Germany where he will play in the Bundesliga finals in Karlsruhe (September 16-20) before heading to Stavanger for the Norway Chess tournament.

Caruana Chess9LX
Caruana will be playing in the Bundesliga, his first over-the-board tournament since the Candidates in March. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

All upcoming top events can be found at

See also:

More from PeterDoggers
Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Gender Bias Research Shows Parents, Mentors Shortchange Girls’ Chess Potential

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory