Reports May 27, 2020 | 7:05 PMby chess24 staff

Nakamura and Caruana take Clutch Chess lead

Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana are leading the 4-day Clutch Chess tournament, the first online venture from the team based out of the Saint Louis Chess Club. The $100,000 tournament features a knockout between the US Top 4, with Nakamura narrowly leading Wesley So 4.5:3.5, while Caruana has a commanding 6.5:1.5 lead over Leinier Dominguez after Day 1. The “clutch” twist of the tournament is that the final two games each day are for double or triple the points and also a healthy financial bonus.

Once again the Saint Louis Chess Club is supporting the top US players | image: uschesschamps.com

When the Candidates Tournament ended on March 26th it seemed as though we might face a barren few months without top level competitive chess, but since then online chess has taken off. We're midway through the the second event of the $1 million Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour while top players are already facing clashes. Fabiano Caruana chose not to play in the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge – he’ll play in the 3rd event next month – while Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So decided they could combine the two tournaments, since the hours don’t overlap.

Wesley has since been knocked out of the Rapid Challenge, but Hikaru, who plays Magnus Carlsen in the semi-finals, could have some long days ahead. You can replay the games from the event using the selector below. Note they’re being played on lichess and since the pgn files produced there don’t have normal round/board information there may be various glitches while the games are live:

The action each day starts at 22:00 CEST, and you can replay the Day 1 commentary from Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley below:

So far it seems Fabiano Caruana’s fine recent form in online chess is continuing, as he blew away Leinier Dominguez on Day 1. The first four games are scored normally, and Fabiano made it 3.5/4. The last two games of the day were worth double, with Fabi drawing the first and then winning the last to add another 3/4, making the final score 6.5-1.5. Leinier’s hopes of a comeback are boosted by the last two games on Wednesday being worth 3 points each rather than 2, but he’ll need to turn things around. The score on Tuesday could have been worse, as Caruana was also winning the first game of the day:


52…Kd3! now wins for Black, but after 52…Kd2? 53.Rd6 Ke3 54.Rxd4! Kxd4 55.h6 both sides queened and there was only a draw.

Chess fans who watched the Magnus Carlsen Invitational may ask what happened to the elephant in the room! | image: uschesschamps.com


Hikaru Nakamura might have been considered the big favourite after how Wesley So had lost to Magnus Carlsen on the morning of their match, but instead it was Wesley who was close to taking a big lead.

He led by a point after the four “normal” games and then was completely winning in the first clutch game before Hikaru managed to escape. Then in the final game of the day Hikaru won 2 points when Wesley lost the thread of a complex Sicilian, so that the score is in fact 4.5:3.5 to Hikaru.

The action continues at 22:00 CEST for the next three days and you can follow it here on chess24.     

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