Superbet Classic: Firouzja beats So, climbs to shared second place

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/3/2024 – In the one decisive game of round 6 at the Superbet Chess Classic, Alireza Firouzja obtained a convincing victory with the white pieces over Wesley So. Firouzja thus climbed to shared second place in the tournament standings, as he now has as many points as Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh — the three chasers stand a half point behind sole leader Fabiano Caruana with three rounds to go in Bucharest. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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A trio of young chasers

The ever-dangerous Alireza Firouzja has joined the fight for first place at the Superbet Chess Classic after beating Wesley So convincingly in Tuesday’s sixth round. Out of a double-edged Nimzo-Indian, Firouzja sacrificed a pawn to get a strong initiative and swiftly converted his positional advantage into a 31-move win. Firouzja had lost to Fabiano Caruana and defeated Nodirbek Abdusattorov in his previous two decisive games in Bucharest.

The victory over So allowed Firouzja to catch up with Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh in the standings. The three youngsters are now tied for second place a half point behind sole leader Caruana. After drawing Ian Nepomniachtchi with white, Caruana remains as the only player with a +2 score in Romania’s capital.

With three rounds to go in the second event of this year’s Grand Chess Tour, not only Caruana and the chasing trio have realistic chances of claiming overall victory. Standing a half point behind Firouzja, Pragg and Gukesh are Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Importantly, Caruana has yet to face Gukesh and Pragg. In round 7, the leader will play black against Gukesh. In round 8, he will play white against Pragg.

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Lennart Ootes

While Firouzja put together a strong attack against So (see full analysis below), Gukesh showed great defensive abilities to hold the balance in his game with black against MVL.

Out of a Marshall Attack — MVL is known for his excellent preparation in sharp opening systems — Gukesh spent a whopping 44 minutes before playing 18...Rfe8 here. White’s 18.a4 had been played only a few times previously (18.Bd4 is the oft-seen continuation), and is very likely what Gukesh expected to see in this setup.

Despite having been surprised in the opening by one of the strongest theoreticians in the world and finding himself more than an hour down on the clock, the Indian prodigy managed to defend the position until signing a — crucial — 60-move draw.

Results - Round 6

Dommaraju Gukesh

Dommaraju Gukesh | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Firouzja 1 - 0 So

Wesley So

Wesley So | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 6

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.
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