Airthings Masters: Arjun stuns Firouzja

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/7/2023 – Three out of four quarterfinal matches in Division I of the Airthings Masters had clear winners — i.e. players who only needed three games to remain in the winners’ bracket. One of these three players was Arjun Erigaisi, as he scored three consecutive wins to take down quick-play specialist Alireza Firouzja. Arjun will face Magnus Carlsen in semis. In the other semifinal matchup, Wesley So will face Hikaru Nakamura.

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Practice makes perfect?

Notably, Alireza Firouzja has taken a selective approach regarding his participation in elite tournaments. Last year, the French GM declined to play both at the Olympiad and the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, while this year he skipped the Tata Steel Masters (he might have not received an invitation to this event, though). Whatever his reasons, the lack of practice might have something to do with his 3-0 loss against Arjun Erigaisi at the Airthings Masters quarterfinals.

By contrast, Arjun has been playing almost non-stop, both in over-the-board classical tournaments and in online events. The Indian star had a great 2022 and kicked off this year with a somewhat underwhelming performance in Wijk aan Zee. After convincingly beating Firouzja, the 19-year-old will face none other than Magnus Carlsen, who defeated Alexey Sarana by a 2½-½ score in his first match of the 2023 Champions Chess Tour.

Arjun twice beat Firouzja with the black pieces. In game 1, Firouzja carelessly pushed his f-pawn in a complex position, allowing his opponent to wreak havoc around the white monarch’s weakened position.


White was already in trouble, but his active approach only made things worse — after 23.f4 h6 24.Nf3 exf4 25.gxf4 Bh3+ 26.Kh1 came Qg4, gaining a key tempo to grab the f-pawn and all but destroy White’s counterchances. 


Due to the mate threat on g2, White played 27.Rg1, giving way to 27...Qxf4 and Black has a winning position with an extra pawn and a strong attack to boot.

Firouzja also played actively in the next two games, looking to even the score in the 4-game match. Both times his attempts backfired, leading to the aforementioned 3-0 loss. According to the tour’s regulations, Firouzja can still win the tournament despite his early loss, as the participants will only be fully knocked out of contention after losing twice in the knockout (a losers’ bracket takes place simultaneously).

The other semifinal in the winners’ bracket will see Wesley So facing Hikaru Nakamura on Tuesday. So defeated Rauf Mamedov 2½-1½ in a hard-fought match, while Nakamura got the better of play-in winner Dommaraju Gukesh by a 2½-½ score.

All games - Division I


Division II

The biggest surprise in the round-of-16 of Division II was Martyn Kravtsiv’s victory over Daniil Dubov, especially given how close Dubov was to leave Nakamura out of Division I in Friday’s play-in. Dubov will join his compatriot Vladimir Kramnik in the losers’ bracket, as the former world champion was defeated by Emirati grandmaster Saleh Salem.

All games - Division II


Division III

Since 32 players participate in Division III and the knockout also runs from Monday to Friday, 2-game matches are played in both brackets in this category. The first day of action saw Peter Svidler beating Alexander Grischuk and then losing to Parham Maghsoodloo.

Grischuk was then knocked out of the competition in the losers’ bracket, where he had to face 54-year-old Alexey Dreev, a long-time member of the elite circuit.

Replay all games from Division III at


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.