Iranian rising star Alireza Firouzja is threatening to match
Wei Yi’s feat of crossing 2700 before his 16th birthday, after reaching 2683.6 with
4.5/5 in the first half of the GAMMA Reykjavik Open. He went into the rest day
in joint first place with Armenian Grandmasters Sergei Movsesian and Robert
Hovhannisyan, after Robert beat Nils Grandelius in Round 5. Praggnanandhaa,
Gukesh, Prithu Gupta and Christopher Yoo are among the other young talents in
action in the Icelandic capital.
You can play through the games from the Reykjavik Open with
computer analysis using the selector below:
This year’s Reykjavik Open is a little weaker than in
previous years, with no 2700 players taking part, though top seed Gawain Jones
is just two points shy of that mark and 2nd seed Swedish no. 1 Nils Grandelius needs
It’s when we come to the 3rd seed, Alireza Firouzja, that the theme of the event is clear – the young generation is rising fast!
15-year-old Firouzja started 2019 rated 2618, but leapt
39 points to 2657 in March, after managing to cram 28 rated classical games
into the space of a month. According to the latest official rating list he’s
now rated 2669, exactly level with World Junior Champion Parham Maghsoodloo,
but on the live rating list Alireza is already the Iranian no. 1 with a 2683.6
rating that makes him the world no. 55. He can’t quite beat Wei Yi’s record for being the youngest player to cross 2700 (at 15 years, 7 months and 27 days), but he
can match Wei Yi and Magnus Carlsen (on the live list) by hitting 2700 before turning 16. His birthday is on June 18th.
The speed of his start in Reykjavik suggested he’s in a
hurry, since he picked up the first win of the event on the live boards with a crushing
victory over Julius Chittka:
How to finish things off? Firouzja picked 21.Rxh7+! Kxh7
22.Qh4+ Kg8 23.Bh6! The only winning move, but it is completely winning!
White will exchange the dark-squared bishops, play Qh6 and
give mate on g7, and there’s not a lot Black can do about it.
In the remaining four games only Matthieu Cornette could
hold Alireza to a draw, and it’s been impressive how smoothly he’s been
outplaying strong professionals in both tactical and technical positions. Sacrificing a queen for a pawn with 32…Qxd4!
was a nice moment against Polish GM Daniel Sadzikowski:
It hasn’t only been about Firouzja, however, since for
instance in Round 3 he was joined by Indian Grandmasters Praggnanandhaa (13
years old) and Gukesh (12) on the top three boards.
It’s curious that the two
Indian prodigies actually played four of the first five rounds sitting next to
each other, although Praggnanandhaa scored half a point more with three wins
and two draws, while Gukesh lost one game to co-leader Sergei Movsesian. Another
young star, 12-year-old American IM Christopher Yoo, has 3.5/5, including an
exciting KID draw against veteran Icelandic GM and 6-time national champion Johann
Another Indian, 15-year-old IM Prithu Gupta, played
perhaps the most spectacular game so far to beat France’s Maxime Lagarde:
21.Re6!!? isn’t actually the best move in the position
(21.Bxf7+), but it’s not often you get to move a piece from where it’s attacked
once to a square where it’s attacked twice, and after 21…c6?! (21…Bf6! and the
computer prefers Black) 22.Re1 cxd5 23.Bxf7+ Qxf7 24.Rxe7 Qh5 25.Qb3! Bh3 there
was more rook mayhem!
26.Rxg7+! Kxg7 27.Qxb7+ Nd7 28.Qxa8. That wasn’t quite the
end of the story, as Black played 28…Ne5!, with some nasty threats of giving
mate, but 29.Bh6+! ensured White would go on to win. Unfortunately for Prithu, he then lost to Aryan Tari and Nils Grandelius in the next two rounds, but he
can still fight for a 3rd and final grandmaster norm.
As well as the kids we’ve got to see some internet stars in
action. 19-year-old US GM Andrew Tang, better known for playing online bullet
games, had an unfortunate start when he got blown away in Round 1
by an unlikely local hero: 15-year-old 2138-rated Stephan Briem:
35…Qxh2+! was a final blow straight from a tactics manual. Andrew resigned rather than allow 36.Kxh2 Rh5+ 37.Rh3 Rxh3+ 38.Kg1 Rh1#, but he then bounced back with three wins and a draw.
streamer, Canadian GM Aman Hambleton, was on the right side of a well-known
tactic in Round 2. Can you spot it?
Then came two draws against higher rated GMs, one of whom is
becoming more active on Twitter by the day:
Aman then suffered a tough loss against former Dutch
Champion Erwin l’Ami, getting outplayed in a complex endgame that had started
in his favour. He’s still gaining rating points for the tournament.
Here are the players at the top with four rounds to go:
You can follow all the action from Reykjavik here on
chess24, including the live commentary provided by Fiona Steil-Antoni and