World champion Magnus Carlsen is in pole position as the $1.5m online Meltwater Tour approaches its final in San Francisco later this month — but the 30-year-old Norwegian had a shock last Saturday when he was checkmated at the Aimchess US Rapid, the last of nine qualifying events.

To make it worse, Carlsen’s conqueror was Alireza Firouzja, 18, the former Iranian rising star who now represents France and is regarded as heir apparent to Carlsen’s throne. 

The opening, the Scandinavian 1 e4 d5, was offbeat and the game took an erratic course as first White, then Black stood better before Carlsen blundered fatally and had his king driven into the centre of the board for mate. Games are free and live to watch online from 4pm daily at

Carlsen remains dominant, but younger rivals are learning to hold their own. Russia’s Vladislav Artemiev has been in fine form on the online tour and this week the 23-year-old from Omsk won the preliminary all-play-all at the Aimchess Rapid ahead of the champion.

British Isles teams won two Division 3 groups of the 150-nation Fide online Olympiad as Scotland and Ireland headed their sections. Wales also qualified for this weekend’s stronger Division 2 matches. England will enter at the Division 1 stage on September 8-10. Results and games can be viewed at

Puzzle 2434

Can you, as White, checkmate Black in eight moves from the chessboard starting position? Only a single white man moves, there are no checks along the way, and Black does not move at all. Kacper Piorun, five times world solving champion, likes to test amateurs with this puzzle, which is not difficult once you see the idea.

For solution, click here

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