Malcolm Pein on…Firouzja’s Future


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In today’s Daily Telegraph column, Malcolm Pein showcases the rising chess star Alireza Firouzja and speculates on the young player’s future.

Malcolm Pein on…Firouzja’s Future

It is generally accepted that the Iranian prodigy Alireza Firouzja is a future world title contender. He is currently ranked 13th in the world at 2759.

Firouzja has beaten pretty much all the world’s best since tournaments moved online, although in the latest event, the New in Chess Classic on Chess 24, he was eliminated in the last eight by an in-form Shak Mamedyarov.

Firouzja is tempted to diverge from his favourite London System after Mamedyarov’s solid 3…Bf5, but in trying to spice it up, he gets sucked into complications that are harder to navigate for White than Black.

The Baltic Defense in Action

A. Firouzja – S. Mamedyarov
Queen’s Gambit Baltic Defense

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Bf5 4.c4 e6 5.Qb3 (After 5.e3 Bxb1 6.Qxb1 Bb4+ White had to forego castling wth 7.Ke2 in view of 7.Nd2?? Ne4, although he later won in Firouzja-Mamedov, Europe Echecs online 2020; 5.Nc3 is possible) 5…dxc4 6.Qxb7 (After 6.Qxc4 Bd6 7.Bxd6 cxd6 8.Nc3 Qb6 leaves White with nothing better than seeking a tame equality with 9.Qb5+ Qxb5 10.Nxb5 Kd7 11.e3 Nc6 when Black is ever so slightly better) 6…Be4 7.Qxc7 Qxc7 8.Bxc7 Bb4+ 9.Nbd2 (The computer prefers White after 9.Kd1 Nbd7 10.a3 Be7 11.Nc3 0–0 12.Nd2 Bb7 13.e3 Rac8 14.Bg3, presumably White still hoped to be able to castle at this point)

9…Nbd7 10.e3 Rc8 11.Bg3 Bd5 12.a3 Ba5 (Black intends Ne4 and Ke7, so perhaps 13.Bd6 keeping Bd6–b4 in reserve) 13.Rc1 Ke7 14.Kd1 (If 14.Be2 Ne4 15.Rc2 h5 16.h4 c3 17.bxc3 Bxc3 18.Bd3 Bxd2+ 19.Nxd2 Rxc2 20.Bxc2 Nxg3 21.fxg3 Rc8 and Black is better, a3 and c3 are targets) 14…Nb6 15.Ne5 Na4 16.Rc2?

A. Firouzja – S. Mamedyarov

16…Nxb2+! 17.Rxb2 c3 18.Rb4 (18.Rc2 cxd2 followed by Bd5–b3 and if 19.Bc4 Bxg2 20.Rg1 Be4) 18…cxd2 19.f3 Rc1+ 20.Kxd2 Ra1 (White is losing lots of material) 21.Kc2 Bxb4 22.axb4 Rc8+ 23.Kb2 Rcc1 0–1

Teimour Radjabov won the second event of the Meltwater Tour, the Airthing Masters.

Test Your Strength



White played 1.Bh6? Bxf6 2.Qf3 Re6 and eventually lost. How could he have maintained roughly level chances?

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

1.Qxg6+!! fxg6 2.f7+ Kf8 3.Bh6+ Ke7 4.f8Q+ Kd7 5.Rf7+ Re7 6.Bg5 or 6.Bg7 is fine.

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