2018 Champions Showdown: Chess 960: Aronian, So, Topalov, MVL, Nakamura Victorious

Levon Aronian, Wesley So, Veselin Topalov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Hikaru Nakamura have won their mini-matches at the conclusion of the 2018 Champions Showdown: Chess 960 at the Saint Louis Chess Club. This special exhibition had a prize pool of $250,000 total and every winner was awarded $30,000, with the unfortunate loser getting $20,000. This tournament also marked the return of Garry Kasparov to competitive chess, but Topalov ruined the occasion by defeating him in their fairly one-sided match, with a score of 14.5 to 11.5.

The other four results were Aronian defeating Leinier Dominguez (17.5-8.5), Wesley So defeating Anish Giri (15.5-10.5), MVL beating Sam Shankland (17.5-8.5), and Nakamura beating Peter Svidler (14-12). None of the five individual matches were that close, as all the winners clinched their victories with two or more rounds to go. Although the results may not have been in doubt, every competitor played spirited chess, especially with all the unique variations that occurred because of the Chess960 variant.

For those unfamiliar with the Chess960 variant, also known as Fischer Random Chess, a random starting position is chosen before the match starts (and there are 960 possible starting positions) using a Fischer Random Chess Generator, and it differs heavily from the standard position we all know in chess. In this tournament, a new Chess960 position was chosen every four matches. In total, there were 20 matches contested over four days with 14 of them being blitz games (5 minutes per game with 5-second delay) and 6 being rapid games (30 minutes per game with 10 second delay).

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