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On Chess: Grandmaster Dominguez Wins Star-Studded Champions Showdown

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Crystal Fuller
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St. Louis Chess Club
Grandmaster Leinier Dominguez

After a dramatic final day, local grandmaster Leinier Dominguez clinched victory in the 2021 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX, scoring 6.0/9 points and taking home the $37,500 first-place prize in the 10-player Chess 960 (Fischer Random) competition.

Second place was a tie among grandmasters Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Sam Shankland, each with 5.5/9, while clear fifth place went to legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov, who scored an impressive 5.0/9.

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Final standings - 2021 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX

The event featured a unique chess variant in play, Chess 960 (aka Fischer Random), in which the starting position of the pieces is randomized before each game. In addition, the tournament used a rapid time control of 20 minutes per side with a 5-second increment, which made for plenty of exciting games.

Dominguez’s road to the top was quite up and down. Having started with 0.5/2, Dominguez then rattled off four straight wins to take the clear lead heading into the third and final day of play. On the last day, however, Dominguez started off with a loss to Shankland and then followed up with a draw in the penultimate round, which allowed So, Shankland and Kasparov to catch up.

But fortune would eventually favor Dominguez in the final round, as he was the only one of the leaders able to win their last-round game, defeating World No. 5 Levon Aronian in a game that went down to the final seconds.

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Austin Fuller
Former World Champion Garry Kasparov takes on 2018 U.S. Champion Sam Shankland.

Fans were also excited to see the 13th Classical World Champion, Garry Kasparov, back in action over the board. Kasparov retired from professional chess in 2005 but performed well in the event, scoring three wins that showed glimpses of his trademark attacking style.

Next up in St. Louis will be the 2021 U.S. Chess and U.S. Women’s Chess Championships, taking place Oct. 5-19 and featuring 24 of America’s top players battling it out for two national titles. Fans can learn more about the events and follow all the action live on uschesschamps.com.

Kostya Kavutskiyis a professional chess player, writer, and streamer currently residing in Mountain View, California. You can follow Kostya at twitter.com/hellokostya.

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