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Dominguez Wins Champions Showdown Chess9LX; Kasparov Comes Close
Leinier Dominguez. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Dominguez Wins Champions Showdown Chess9LX; Kasparov Comes Close

PeterDoggers
| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

A round before the end there was still a four-way tie for first place with GM Garry Kasparov among the contestants. Eventually, it was GM Leinier Dominguez who avoided a playoff as the only winner among the leaders and finished in clear first place at the Champions Showdown Chess9LX tournament in St. Louis.

Final standings

# Fed Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts
1 Leinier Dominguez ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 6.0/9
2 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 5.5/9
3 Sam Shankland 1 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5.5/9
4 Wesley So 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 5.5/9
5 Garry Kasparov ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 5.0/9
6 Fabiano Caruana 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 4.5/9
7 Levon Aronian 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 4.0/9
8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 0 1 0 3.5/9
9 Hikaru Nakamura 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ 3.0/9
10 Peter Svidler 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 ½ 2.5/9

It was a thrilling moment for the chess fans after the penultimate round. Kasparov had just repeated moves in a better position against GM Hikaru Nakamura but was still in a shared first place with, besides Dominguez, also GM Wesley So and GM Sam Shankland. Everyone had scored 5/8, and for the first time since Linares 2005, where he announced his retirement, Kasparov was in contention for first place at a tournament.

After his excellent 2.5/3 on Thursday, The Boss had started with a crushing win vs. GM Peter Svidler:

Svidler Kasparov Chess960
Svidler-Kasparov. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Kasparov called it "a bad decision" to take the draw against Nakamura but failed to calculate properly there and also wanted to save energy for the final round. You could call that a "professional" decision coming from an "amateur" (as Kasparov's wife keeps calling him, as a way to remind him it's not a disaster if he doesn't win the tournaments he plays in!), especially since he was still tied for first before the final round.

"For a second, I thought: Wow, I'm tied for first, maybe I have a chance, maybe it's my swan song," said Kasparov. That thought would haunt him in the final game as he missed chances to get a better position against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and then made one careless, perhaps over-optimistic move when the dream was shattered. 

For a second, I thought: Wow, I'm tied for first, maybe I have a chance, maybe it's my swan song.
—Garry Kasparov

"I think I managed to create counter-chances, but, you know, too tired. I missed a few very good moments," said Kasparov about the phase before 17...e4, which he called "a stupid move which loses instantly."

The now 58-year-old grandmaster noted that the third round was the toughest for him each day. "And also when I started round three today, I was still thinking: how could I not take my chances against Nakamura because this day was my chance to win the tournament, and I just blew it up."

Kasparov tweet Damn it

The good news for fans is that Kasparov is planning to continue playing tournaments every now and then, including the next Champions Showdown and possibly also again in Zagreb, "just to rehabilitate myself for this horrible performance."

Vachier-Lagrave Kasparov Chess9LX
MVL and Kasparov discussing their game. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The emphasis on Kasparov in this report was dictated by a legend doing so well in a field of current-day top grandmasters, but in no way does the author want to diminish Dominguez's excellent performance.

It was especially impressive considering the fact that the Cuban-American GM started with a loss on day three as Shankland ended his four-game winning streak. "It was really a difficult moment," said Dominguez. "Of course, from the psychological point of view, it was important not to lose my temper at that moment. I knew that I still had chances, and I was able to pull myself together keep playing some decent chess." 

Coincidentally, all four leaders played with the black pieces in the final round, and Dominguez was the only one to win his game:

Aronian Dominguez 2021 Chess 9LX
Aronian vs. Dominguez. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

All games day 3


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