Reykjavik: Firouzja Express derailed

by André Schulz
4/15/2019 – Constantin Lupulescu beat Newcomer Alireza Firouzja in the 7th round of the Reykjavik Open with a very double-edged and topical variation in the French Defence and took a full point clear of the rest of the field with two rounds to play. Report on Round 7 plus live games and commentary of Round 8. | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

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Lupulescu leads by a point

15-year-old Alireza Firuzja spent six rounds at the top of the 33rd Gamma Reykjavik Open, but his undefeated streak came to an end in round seven against Constantin Lupulescu. The young Iranian is already the owner of the GM title himself and is considered one of the greatest talents storming the international tournament arena and part of an Iranian chess boom.

The Firouzja Express came to a halt after four wins and two draws, with the stop signal thrown by Romanian GM Constantin Lupulescu, who had been himself cruising to 5½ out of 6 and was not willing to let the newcomer from Iran pass him.

Alireza Firouzja during his game with Lupulescu | Photo: Fiona Steil-Antoni

The two players met in the top game of the seventh round for a a theory duel in a very double-edged classical variation of the French Defence. Lupulescu with the black pieces played ♝e7 and O-O and developed his queen to a5. You could call this the Volkov variation, because Sergey Volkov was one of the first who regularly applied it in 2009.


Firouzja played here — like many others before him — long castling: 10.O-O-O (a more cautious approach is 10.a3). With 10...b6 Black aimed at opening the line and gave up a piece after 11.b5 b4 12. a3 bxc5 13.♗xd7 xd7 14.axb4 axb4 15.b1. In eleven other tries with this sacrifice Black is scoring very well (68%), so White players would be advised to steer clear. Lupulescu played 15...fc8 16.d4 and ♛a2 followed. The advance of the black a-pawn caused White significant problems for which he found no solution.

A few moves later it looked like this:


There followed here 24...a4 and after an exchange sac on d4, the a-pawn advanced all the way to a2 and decided the game.

For Lupulescu, this was a huge win thanks to good opening preparation, as he leads the field now by a full point with 6½. Firouzja dropped back to 13th place.

In the games of the pursuers, Gawain Jones and Robert Hovhannissyan shared the point, while David Eggleston lost to Nils Grandelius.

The 20-year-old American Andrew Tang has been a grandmaster since last year and went after the Dutchman Erwin l'Ami in a line of the Nimzo-Indian defense with an early h4 and g4. 

Erwin l'Ami and Andrew Tang

But the veteran quickly parried the attack and finally got this position:


Black played the natural move 28...cd8. After the careless 29.e2? l'Ami's 29...xd3 was the winning reply: 30.xd3 b5 and the pin cost Tang material and with it, the game.

Results of Round 7 (top 10)


Results of Round 8 (top 10)


Update: Lupulescu loses in Round 8 to Gawain Jones and is caught by fellow Romanian Mircea-Emilian Parligras

Standings after Round 8 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Parligras Mircea-Emilian 6,5
2 Lupulescu Constantin 6,5
3 Tari Aryan 6,0
4 Firouzja Alireza 6,0
5 Petrosian Tigran L. 6,0
6 l'Ami Erwin 6,0
7 Sadzikowski Daniel 6,0
  Hjartarson Johann 6,0
9 Prithu Gupta 6,0
10 Salomon Johan 6,0
11 Kjartansson Gudmundur 6,0
12 Libiszewski Fabien 6,0
13 Movsesian Sergei 5,5
14 Van Foreest Jorden 5,5
  Tania Sachdev 5,5
16 Astaneh Lopez Alex 5,5
17 Kevlishvili Robby 5,5
  Korley Kassa 5,5
  Yoo Christopher Woojin 5,5
20 Loiseau Quentin 5,5

...238 Players

Commentary on Round 8

Commentary by WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni & FM Ingvar Johannesson from 17:00 UTC (19:00 CEST / 2 PM EDT)

All available games


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


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


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