Sinquefield Cup: Aronian’s win over Firouzja heats up Candidates race

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/26/2023 – Levon Aronian became the second player to grab a win in the Sinquefield Cup, as he beat Alireza Firouzja with the white pieces in round 5. This result allowed Wesley So to overtake Firouzja in the live ratings list, while it also reduced the rating gap between Firouzja and Anish Giri. The three players are fighting to get one of the two remaining spots in the 2024 Candidates — one will be granted via the ratings list and the second via the FIDE Circuit. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Aronian takes down Firouzja

Three days full of draws were followed by two days with exciting games (and two decisive results) at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. After Wesley So made the most of Richard Rapport’s risky approach in round 4, Levon Aronian became the second player to grab a full point in the event by beating Alireza Firouzja with the white pieces on Saturday.

Firouzja’s loss heated up the race to get one of the two spots yet to be filled in the 2024 Candidates Tournament. Firouzja was the frontrunner in the rating race before the FIDE Grand Swiss, but a subpar performance on the Isle of Man combined with a slow start in Saint Louis have allowed So to overtake him in the live ratings list.

Moreover, Firouzja’s defeat also favoured Anish Giri, whose chances to get the rating spot seemed remote a couple of months ago. The Dutchman is now battling on two fronts, as he is also leading the race in the FIDE Circuit, where he is closely followed by Gukesh and So. However, Firouzja’s big rating drop (he has lost 21.3 points this month) places Giri barely 1.9 points behind the Iranian-born grandmaster in today’s ratings list.

The race to reach the Candidates is likely to spice things up in Saint Louis, as the ever-fighting Firouzja — who is also the defending champion — might decide to show his sharpest chess while attempting to reverse the aforementioned downward trend.

Anish Giri

In the hunt — Anish Giri | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Aronian 1 - 0 Firouzja

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Alireza Firouzja

Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Dominguez ½ - ½ So

Analysis by GM Karsten Müller

Wesley So

Wesley So signing autographs | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 5

All games


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.