After Blunder By So In 4th Game, Nakamura Wins The American Cup
Hikaru Nakamura is the winner of the second American Cup. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

After Blunder By So In 4th Game, Nakamura Wins The American Cup

| 67 | Chess Event Coverage

It took four rapid games before the victor was decided on the 10th and final day of The American Cup in St. Louis.

In the fourth game of their third match of the event, GM Wesley So blundered to lose a miniature to GM Hikaru Nakamura, who then became the second winner of the Open event of The American Cup. 

How to review?

The games of The American Cup can be found on our live events platform: Open | Women

It took three long, tough games to wear down So, who had missed some chances in game three to move ahead, but before that happened, a lot of moves were played in fascinating, albeit mostly queenless, positions, which is why it is almost prosaic that it was a mistake with the queen that cost So the game, the match, the tournament.

Let's dive into the action from day 10.

Game 1

Despite being rather long, it was clearly the least interesting of the four games. The first 17 moves had all been played before, including in a game with So playing the white pieces. Then Nakamura played a somewhat insignificant novelty when the game quickly went into a drawn rook ending. So showed the required technique and ultimately a stalemate appeared on the board.

Does that excite you? No, me either!

Game 2

Having gotten nothing out of 1.d4 in his previous White game,  So opted for 1.e4 which, of course, means that we would either have to look at a Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense or an Italian Game, both of which can be both exceedingly dull or incredibly fascinating. Here, the players found their way to a Berlin Ruy, which, I must admit, initially looked quite drawish to me, but the players managed to make it very interesting despite the limited material.

However, in the end, it was still another draw.

Three men in a room; two playing, one officiating. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Next step in the action would be two 10+5 rapid games.

Game 3

The colors remained the same, So playing White, and this time he essayed the Italian Game. Black seemed to equalize rather easily, but as Nakamura pointed out after the game, all of a sudden, it looked like Black was losing. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but when sitting at the board without an engine, it is hard to fault him for thinking that way.

Nevertheless, So didn't find the most testing continuation, and then Black was able to save himself.

This is our game of the day.

Game 4

I suspect that I was not alone in thinking that this match would continue all the way through to the armageddon game, but that was not to be.

Very quickly, this game started taking shape to be some sharp sauce where White's pieces would generate threats against Black's kingside. However, we never got to see a full illustration of this because suddenly, possibly from just sheer mental exhaustion, So blundered, and then the game was over, almost before it had really begun.

And just like that, the match was over. A bit anti-climactic, perhaps, but all good things have to come to an end.

It is all over. So resigns to Nakamura. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

A big congratulations to Nakamura on winning the second American Cup. 

I think it is clear that this tournament has proven once more that the concept works and creates lots of exciting chess and that the different time controls challenge the players in different ways that we typically don't see in other tournaments. 

After the game, Nakamura gave an interesting interview with the official broadcast team.

Next up, it was Wesley So's turn to be interviewed...

All Games

Concerning the prizes in the Open event, Nakamura picks up $50,000 plus the $10,000 bonus for winning the championship bracket. So gets a cool $35,000 for his brilliant effort. GM Levon Aronian, who lost the final of the elimination bracket, will receive a check for $25,000. 

The remaining prize winners are GM Leinier Dominguez, $20,000; last year's winner, GM Fabiano Caruana, and GM Sam Shankland, each $18,000; and GM Sam Sevian and GM Ray Robson, each $12,000. 

The American Cup is an over-the-board event in the U.S. capital of chess, St. Louis, featuring the country's top grandmasters. Split into Open and Women's categories, the players competed in a double-elimination knockout bracket while vying for their share of the $300,000 prize fund.

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