Firouzja held to a draw by Fedorchuk, remains behind So in ratings list

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/23/2023 – Alireza Firouzja’s attempt to reach the Candidates via rating at a series of matches in Chartres failed at the last hurdle. After scoring five wins in a row, the strongest junior in the world was held to a draw by Sergey Fedorchuk, thus losing 2.8 Elo points and again falling behind Wesley So in the live ratings list. The draw was followed by Firouzja disappearing from the lineups of the World Rapid and Blitz Championships. He still has a week before the year ends — will he try desperately to gain some rating again?

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No longer on World Rapid & Blitz lineups

There are still two places available in the 2024 Candidates Tournament. One of these places will go to the player with the highest Elo rating in the January 2024 world rankings (who has not yet qualified for the Candidates). In a hastily organized series of matches, Alireza Firouzja tried to get back the rating he had lost earlier in the year, as he stood a bit behind Wesley So in the live ratings list with no more classical tournaments scheduled for either player.

In order to get the coveted spot, Firouzja needed to win all six of his games in Chartres. After twice beating Alexander Dgebuadze and Andrei Shchekachev, he had to end the event with two games against Ukrainian GM Sergey Fedorchuk. Firouzja first beat him with the black pieces, but then failed to score a final full point with white — in fact, Fedorchuk had a clear advantage when a draw was agreed on move 49.

Firouzja could have withdrawn from the tournament after winning five games, as he had already surpassed So in the live ratings list with his five starting wins. Perhaps FIDE’s statement regarding the concerns raised by the event in Chartres prompted Firouzja to risk playing the sixth game.

With one week to go in December, there is almost no time to organize another last-ditch attempt at getting the spot. However, it was recently noted on social media that Firouzja has disappeared from the lineups at the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, which will run on December 26-30 in Samarkand. Will Firouzja give it another shot?

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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.