Carlsen beats resilient Firouzja, wins Chessable Masters

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/7/2024 – Magnus Carlsen won the Chessable Masters after defeating Alireza Firouzja in the Grand Final Reset of Division I. Firouzja started the day with two wins in a row, and obtained a draw in game 4 to set up a rematch. In the Reset, however, it was Carlsen who scored first. Firouzja then failed to make the most of an advantageous position, as he allowed Carlsen to turn the tables and get a 2-0 final victory.

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Carlsen uses his “extra life”

Magnus Carlsen continues to dominate the online-chess scene, as he defeated Alireza Firouzja to win the first event of this year’s Champions Chess Tour. The Norwegian won four out of seven events in last year’s edition, including the in-person Finals in Toronto.

Now, just two days before the start of the Freestyle Challenge in Germany, the world number one beat one of his most resilient rivals in an incredibly hard-fought pair of matches.

Since Carlsen had won the winners’ bracket, Firouzja needed to beat him in two consecutive matches to take the title. The youngster started strong, grabbing back-to-back wins, which meant Carlsen needed to score 2/2 in the remaining games to take the match to sudden-death.

Carlsen did win game 3, but a draw in game 4 meant a 2-game rematch would decide the tournament champion.

Chessable Masters 2024

In the Grand Final Reset, Carlsen got the white pieces first, and outplayed his opponent in a sharp position with kings castled on opposite sides.

Black was already in trouble, with his monarch clearly more vulnerable than its white counterpart. Thus, the ever-resourceful Firouzja played 27...Ne4, the engines’ first suggestion.

A tactically alert Carlsen, however, also found the strongest move in the position: 28.Rxb6+, giving up an exchange while further weakening the black king’s position.

There followed 28...axb6 29.fxe4 Ka7 30.b5 fxe4 31.Bxe4

White has two pawns for the exchange and, more importantly, a better coordinated army facing a weakened king. Carlsen continued to make progress until getting the win on move 48.

It was Firouzja who was in a must-win situation now, and he was not in the mood to go down easily. The prodigious grandmaster, in fact, was in the driver’s seat in the late middlegame of the second encounter.

Yet another double-edged struggle between two fighting contenders!

Here, White should be better in the long run thanks to his better structure and his strong queenside pawns. Carlsen, however, correctly assessed that he needed to create counterplay immediately, and continued with 32...f5.

In the ensuing battle, the former world champion outplayed his young rival, using his passed pawn on the e-file as his key weapon.

Firouzja resigned the game, and the match, after 39...e2.

Nevertheless, it was a brave attempt at taking down the perennial favourite by Firouzja, who came from winning the very competitive losers’ bracket. Carlsen later noted that he really needed his “extra life” in the Grand Final, as his opponent showed his usual resilience throughout the six games played on Wednesday.

Chessable Masters 2024

Carlsen v. Firouzja - Game #3 (Grand Final)

Expert analysis by GM Karsten Müller


Video analysis by IM Robert Ris


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Understanding Middlegame Strategies Vol.1 - 9

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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.
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