The 2017 Champions Showdown ended with a couple of very predictable results and a couple of very tight matches. In the showdown, the three US players and world champion Magnus Carlsen hand-picked their opponents. Clearly, winning was on Hikaru Nakamura’s mind when he chose the semi-retired Veselin Topalov, who has admitted that he is no longer working on chess. Wesley So thought Leinier Dominguez would be an interesting opponent, but Dominguez was very rusty, having played in only one 2017 tournament. The most principled choice was that of Fabiano Caruana, who chose two-time world blitz champion Alexander Grischuk. Caruana couldn’t have realized that Grischuk would have been jet-lagged coming in the day before from the Euro Team Championship on Crete, though it definitely worked to his benefit. One of Carlsen’s stated reasons for choosing Ding Liren was that he saw something special in his recent game of the year against Jinshi Bai, but Ding was chosen long before that game was played.
Anyway, Carlsen made very short work of the inexperienced Ding, winning each of the four mini-matches, scoring a 67-25 victory (each time-control had different point values for wins). Carlsen lost two games while winning 15. Nakamura had the next easiest time with the semi-retired Topalov, winning 61.5-30.5; Caruana managed a great 49-43 win against Grischuk; while, So won in a life and death struggle vs. the game Dominquez, 47.5-44.5.
National tournament director Ken Ballou of Framingham was the chief arbiter, and senior tournament director Matt Phelps of Groton assisted him.
In another bit of local news, three Massachusetts girls scored big in the recent 2017 Susan Polgar Foundation’s World Open for Boys/Girls event in New York City. Maya Figelman of Brookline won the girls K-2 section, while in the girls’ 3rd-5th grade section, Riya Kanury of North Attleborough and Isabella Lai of Carlisle ended up in a multiplayer tie for first. All three earned invitations to the Susan Polgar girls-only invitational tournament in St. Louis this summer.
Coming events: Nov. 24-26, Greg Hager Memorial, 5SS, Boylston CC, www.BoylstonChess.org; Dec. 3, 3rd Championship/Spiegel Cup Qualifier, Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, West Marlborough, www.MassChess.org.
Recent results: PerelChess Spiegel Cup Series (24 players), 8U, 1st: Suhavi Tiruveedhula, 3/4, 11U, 1st: Isaac Gordon, 4/4, 14U, Daniel Fartel, 4/4; Legend of Chess, Hugh Alexander (25 players), Boylston CC, 1st: Nithin Kavi, 4/4
Answer to today’s problem: From Grischuk v Caruana, St. Louis, 2017, The Stunning 1...Qh3!! wins on the spot with the threat of Qxg2# as 2.gxh3 [or 2.Qf2 Qxh2+! 3.Bxh2 gxf2 and the pawns queens] 2...g2#