Chess: Online audience of 705,000 watches final round as Dutch outsider tops Wijk aan Zee
Last weekend’s Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, the “chess Wimbledon”, showed that many, perhaps most, online chess viewers miss the traditional classical over the board tournaments at slow time limits which have been largely replaced by all-speed events during the pandemic.
Global viewing numbers for the fortnight of daily rounds were into the millions, including 705,000 on the final day and 80,000 for the play-off where Jorden van Foreest defeated his compatriot Anish Giri in the first Dutch victory at Wijk for 36 years.
Alireza Firouzja, 17, narrowly missed a tie for first after a controversial incident in the final round where, in a strong position, he was disturbed by preparations for the play-off. But the ex-Iranian is on the verge of breaking into the top 10 in the rankings, and many view him as heir apparent to world champion Magnus Carlsen, who had his worst Wijk result, sixth, for more than a decade.
After Stavanger in Norway, Wijk was only the second major over the board tournament during the pandemic. Both events were virus-free, which is encouraging for the world title candidates, due for resumption in April after being halted at half-way.
White mates in four moves. Just a single line of play, with a surprising white sequence where all Black’s replies are forced. Hint: the black king plans to escape by Kxf5, so White's moves need to stop that.
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