Chess: Firouzja wins in St Louis while Niemann ‘cheating’ saga rumbles on
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Alireza Firouzja, who for many fans is the coming star of world chess at age 19, scooped both the Sinquefield Cup and the Grand Tour at St Louis on Sunday and collected over $270,000 in prize money. The ex-Iranian, now French, teenager defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi 1.5-0.5 in a two-game final tie-break when the Russian fell into an elementary trap early on and lost a piece.
It was far from a vintage tournament. Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal after his third round defeat and the subsequent allegations of cheating against Hans Niemann created an air of tension and affected the overall quality of the play. Tacitly agreed draws and blunders were both more frequent than normal.
In the penultimate round, Wesley So had a winning position against Firouzja, but spoilt it and lost. In the final round, Nepomniachtchi could have taken a loose pawn of Niemann’s for nothing and won first prize without fuss, but instead blundered into a draw by repeated moves.
The organisers made an official statement which emphatically denied any wrongdoing by players throughout the event: “Measures included scanning of players with metal detectors prior to games and randomly after games, close observation of the players and fair play analysis by Professor Kenneth Regan using the FIDE Game Screening Tool”.
On Sunday September 18, the Julius Baer Generation Cup begins, with 16 players representing both the established world top and rising teenagers. One pairing stands out. In round six, starting at 6pm on Monday 19th, Hans Niemann plays White against Magnus Carlsen. A huge audience will be watching.
This week, from Wednesday to Friday, it is the turn of Chess 9LX, also known as Fischer Random, where the pieces on the home rank are randomised and 960 is the number of possible starting positions.
The Champions Showdown 9LX will feature a rare appearance by Garry Kasparov, the legend who rivals Carlsen as the all-time No1. Play starts at 7pm BST daily, and can be followed live on uschesschamps.com. Its highlight will be the first meeting between Kasparov and Firouzja, past against future.
Samuel Sevian v Wojciech Przybylski, Titled Tuesday 2021. White to move and win. The position appears completely blocked, but there is a hidden route through Black’s defences.
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