The Next Big Event: The 2019 Champions Showdown
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 8:07PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2019 Champions Showdown, David Navara, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Leinier Dominguez, Pentala Harikrishna, Richard Rapport, Sam Shankland, Veselin Topalov, Wesley So

Hopefully everyone is enjoying Valentine's Day with someone they love. (Unless you're a little kid, in which case all that romantic stuff is icky. For you, be happy - the day is almost done!) Here's some good chess news to go along with your romantic bliss: a very high-level rapid & blitz event starts in less than a week.

It's the 2019 Champions Showdown in St. Louis, and it features the United States' Fab Five (note the extra pun, free of charge) taking on five challengers from the rest of the world (ROW). There will be three days of rapid play and two days of blitz, and these are the matchups:

I'm pretty excited about the event, and it will be nice to see Caruana and especially the long inactive Dominguez back in action. I think the Americans will be favorites on every board, though I wouldn't be shocked to see the ROWers win one or two of the first, fourth, or fifth matches.

Here are the specifics:

The event runs from February 20-24, and play each day starts at 1 p.m. local time (= 2 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CET). The first three days will be devoted to rapid chess, the last two to blitz. There will be 12 rapid games - 4 per day - and 24 blitz games - 12 per day. The rapid time control is 15' + 10" (an increment, thankfully, not the abominable Bronstein delay) and the blitz control is 3' + 2". The rapid games are scored 2-1-0, the blitz games 1-.5-0, with the prize money in each match awarding $36,000 to the winner and $24,000 to the loser. If the match finishes in a tie, that's it: the money is split and there's no playoff.

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