Chessable Masters: Firouzja sets up showdown against Carlsen

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/5/2024 – Alireza Firouzja took down Ian Nepomniachtchi and Denis Lazavik in back-to-back matches to reach the Grand Final in Division I of the Chessable Masters. Firouzja will get a rest day before facing Carlsen in Wednesday’s showdown. Tuesday will see the Grand Finals in Division II (Vincent Keymer v. Levon Aronian) and Division III (Alexander Grischuk v. Alexey Sarana). | Photo: Alireza Firouzja’s X account

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Division I: Firouzja wins losers’ bracket

Alireza Firouzja qualified to Division I of the Chessable Masters by scoring 7/9 points in last week’s Play-In stage. In the quarter-finals of the knockout, the 20-year-old suffered a 3-1 defeat against Vladimir Fedoseev, but has now bounced back by winning the losers’ bracket after knocking out Wesley So, Jose Martinez, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Denis Lazavik.

Beating an inspired Lazavik in the final of the losers’ bracket gained Firouzja the right to face Magnus Carlsen in the event’s Grand Final, set to take place on Wednesday.

Since his loss against Fedoseev, Firouzja has remained undefeated in the online tournament. As shown in his December run to get a spot in the Candidates, Firouzja is a fighter at heart.

In the first game of the losers’ bracket final, Lazavik missed an unlikely opportunity to build a fortress amid a tricky bishop endgame. GM Karsten Müller explains:

Division I bracket

Chessable Masters 2024

All games - Division I

Division II: Aronian’s comeback

The Grand Final in Division II will see Vincent Keymer facing Levon Aronian for a second time. In the final of the winners’ bracket, Keymer got a 2½-½ victory over Aronian after the latter twice played one-move blunders that gave away a minor piece.

Aronian, however, gained the right for a rematch by beating Benjamin Bok in the final of the losers’ bracket. Bok, who came from knocking out Anish Giri and Vladislav Artemiev, blundered away his rook in the second game of the match.

With 5 seconds on the clock (to Aronian’s 1 minute and 18 seconds), Bok faltered with 45.Bd5, leaving the d1-square undefended — 45...Qd1+ 46.Kg2 Qxg4+ was followed by resignation.

Bok had won the first encounter, so the match was decided in Armageddon. Aronian played with the black pieces and obtained a 77-move draw to advance to the Grand Final.

Division II bracket

Chessable Masters 2024

All games - Division II

Division III: Sarana the favourite against Grischuk

Similarly to what happened in Division II, the player who lost the winners’ bracket final in Division III went on to win the lower bracket to reach the Grand Final. In this case, it was Alexander Grischuk who first lost to Alexey Sarana and then defeated Oleksandr Bortnyk to set up a rematch for Tuesday.

Sarana’s performance has been very impressive so far. The Serbian representative has scored 14½ points in 19 games — and defeated Grischuk by a resounding 3-0 score.

Danishvar ½ - ½ Safarli

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

All games - Division III

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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.