Showdown in Saint Louis Takes Home the Trophy!
Having two players like Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, truly the top of the top of the World, live in the same city, is absolutely wonderful. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis brought them together in an amazing exhibition of games. Even though they are known to be powerhouses in classical chess, both players are also incredibly strong Rapid, Blitz and Fischer random players. Watching the top two Americans battle it out over a period of four days was truly a pleasure.
Even better than having the two just play, they were joined by arguably the two strongest college students in the World: Parimarjan Negi and Hou Yifan. Negi attends Stanford University and Hou Yifan is currently the top women’s player in the world and attends Beijing University.
The Nakamura vs. Caruana match was extremely close. They kept trading blows game after game, decisive result after decisive result. It didn’t seem like either one of them could get the better side of the other. The two went into the final day, Blitz chess, with only a one point difference between them. Nakamura was certainly the favorite in this modality, but Caruana showed that he is one of the top players in the world no matter what time control you put in front of him. Caruana, unexpectedly, dominated the Blitz and won the 2015 Showdown in Saint Louis!
In the match of Negi and Hou Yifan, tragedy truly struck in Negi’s positions. He dominated the Basque exhibition games, but Hou Yifan struck back by dominating Fischer Random. With only a point difference between them going into Rapid Chess, anything could still happen. Unfortunately, nothing went well for the Indian player in day three and four. Promising positions, good attacks, and decisive advantages were blundered away and lost to time pressure or to the clock itself! Through sheer resilience, resourcefulness and great timings, Hou Yifan was able to crush Negi on the scoreboard and win their match.