The Champions Showdown: Mostly Blowouts After the Rapid Stage
Friday, February 22, 2019 at 6:22PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2019 Champions Showdown, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Richard Rapport, Veselin Topalov, Wesley So

After three days and 12 rapid games, four of the five matches of the Champions Showdown in St. Louis are practically over, barring major comebacks from those who are trailing. The rapid games count double, and the 12 games are equal in value to the 24 blitz games coming over the next two days. Here are the standings so far:

Caruana 18 - Harikrishna 6

Nakamura 14 - Duda 10

So 16 - Navara 8

Topalov 15 - Dominguez 9

Rapport 18 - Shankland 6

Fabiano Caruana came out smoking against Pentala Harikrishna the first two days, going 3.5-.5 (7-1) each of the first two days. His first (and so far only) win in the rapid came in the first game today, but Caruana won in game two and drew the remaining games to maintain an enormous lead.

Richard Rapport won the first three games of the match against Sam Shankland to put heavy pressure on the American. Shankland stopped the bleeding for a while, (barely) drawing the last game on day 1 and the first three games of day 2. He suffered a very unnecessary loss in the last game of day 2, but started day three with a win. Unfortunately for him, the series of six games with even results was punctuated by three more losses, bookending the start of the match.

The match between Wesley So and David Navara was closely contested at first. Navara won game 1, and although So finished the first day at +1 Navara struck back at the start of day 2 to equalize the scores. But then So took over, winning four in a row (= an eight-point lead), setting the margin that is present going into the blitz.

Veselin Topalov and Leinier Dominguez were equal after two days, with one win by each player and six draws, but day three was a disaster for Dominguez and a triumph for Topalov. Dominguez drew the second game and lost the rest, and trails by six points heading into the blitz.

The closest match is the one between Hikaru Nakamura and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and if Duda had won the last game instead of losing it it would have been tied. With Duda having finished as the runner-up in the World Blitz Championship a couple of months ago, it would be premature to claim that the match is over - though I'd still expect Nakamura to pull out match victory.



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