Paris Rapid & Blitz: Firouzja strong in the blitz

by André Schulz
6/22/2021 – After three days of rapid chess, the blitz section of the Paris Rapid & Blitz Tournament kicked off on Monday. Alireza Firouja was the strongest in the first half of the blitz phase, while Vladimir Kramnik had a rough time facing his younger opponents. Wesley So still leads the overall standings. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Firouzja shines

Wesley So finished the rapid stage of the Paris Rapid & Blitz Tournament at the top of the standings. On Monday, the blitz section of the event kicked off in France’s capital. At the end of the day, Alireza Firouzja was the top scorer in the blitz. As is well known, the Iranian by birth has been living in France for a while now, as lives with his family near Paris, in Chartres.

Firouzja got off to a rocketing start with 5½ out of 6. In round seven, the youngster was dealt a blow and lost to Wesley So. Ian Nepomniachtchi seized the opportunity and drew level after a win over Levon Aronian.

In the eighth round, Firouzja defeated Nepo in their direct encounter. In the final round, Firouzja could even afford to lose to Fabiano Caruana without losing the lead in the blitz section, as Nepomniachtchi could not get more than half a point against So.

The tournament saw Vladimir Kramnik joining the field on Monday — after his retirement from tournament chess, the Russian only wanted to play the blitz stage of the event. Kramnik is also practically a local player in Paris, having played and lived in the French capital for many years. At the time, however, he lives with his family in Switzerland.

Vladimir Kramnik | Photo: Bryan Adams

Kramnik replaced Etienne Bacrot, who played the rapid stage. For all the joy of seeing Kramnik again at the board, this kind of board-sharing gives the tournament the character of a show tournament. That is ultimately what it is, but the format of the Grand Chess Tour actually wants to give the series a distinctly sporting nature by awarding points. For the upcoming tournament in Croatia, it will be Kasparov and Ivan Saric who will play each one of the sections of the event.

During the first half of the blitz phase, Kramnik suffered five defeats and could only win one game. Before the second day, Kramnik is at the bottom of the standings.

The game in Round 8 between Nepomniachtchi and Firouzja was a wild battle in which each of the two players was on the winning side several times, as it usually happens in blitz.

Ian Nepomniachtchi v Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Lennart Ootes


Standings after Round 9 - Blitz


Overall standings

Grand Chess Tour Paris 2021

All games - Blitz



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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