by Cristian Chirila
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has been the epicenter of chess momentum in the United States since its inception. The magnitude of the events organized has been easily surpassing anything seen on a national, and even international, level. On Nov. 10 another event – the Champions Showdown – is set to delight chess fans all over the world and, as is fitting, the Chess Club will host.
Fabiano Caruana, the reigning U.S. Champion, will be the number one seed and the local favorite (as he has recently moved to Saint Louis). So far, 2016 has been the best year of his career, as he enjoyed his first victory in the U.S. Championship, as well as leading the U.S. team to a historic Olympic Gold performance just a couple of months ago. Caruana is sitting as the World No. 2, and is inching closer in rating to the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. With a solid performance in the Champions Showdown, he will solidify his national dominance and announce his candidacy for the World Championship crown in the coming years.
Hikaru Nakamura is the No. 3 player in the U.S. and is regarded as the strongest blitz (fastest time control, 5 minutes or less) player in the world. This year has been fairly rough for Hikaru, as he had to concede the U.S. national title to Fabiano, as well as the No. 2 U.S. spot to another rival, Wesley So.
On Nov. 10, he will look to use his rapid time control skills to perfection in the showdown and clinch a victory that will restore his candidacy as the best player in the States. The format of the tournament can surely be considered advantageous to him as the longest time control will be G/60+5’’ delay, and the fastest G/3+2’’ delay.
Viswanathan Anand is undoubtedly one of the biggest chess stars in the world. His career is nothing shy of legendary, and he will look to add another title to his belt in St. Louis. Anand held the World Championship crown for a combined eight years, before being stripped of it by Magnus Carlsen in 2013.
At a national level, the legend from India has been No. 1 for the past several decades and it doesn’t look like there will be anyone outclassing him anytime soon. He will undoubtedly be a serious candidate to surprise the local favorites and win big in the Champions Showdown.
Veselin Topalov is the flashiest contender, and the organizers have definitely taken into account his entertaining playing style when inviting him to this year’s event. During his peak, Topalov dominated the chess world holding the World Championship title between 2005 and 2006. He was also the player to “retire” the legendary Garry Kasparov after beating him in their infamous encounter in the last round of the 2005 Linares super tournament.
Topalov remains a threat to any chess player in the world and he will look to implement his sharp style in the fight for the Champions Showdown crown.
The 2016 Champions Showdown will be an exhibition event featuring four players named above. Over five days, the players will complete two classical round robins, two rapid round robins and four blitz round robins.
With four of the best players in the world, the Champions Showdown is surely going to be an event you don’t want to miss. Be sure to come by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for a dose of chess entertainment in this clash between the brightest minds of the chess world!
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