Malcolm Pein on…The FTX Crypto Cup


Table of Contents

Malcolm Pein turns his attention to the FTX Crypto Cup in today’s Daily Telegraph column. He also presents a game in which the Pirc Defense suffers badly against a direct assault.


Malcolm Pein on…The FTX Crypto Cup

The FTX Crypto Cup is sponsored by a cryptocurrency exchange and boasts a record $320,000 (£228,000) prize pot for an online tournament – $100,000 will be set in bitcoin before the start of play and its value in ‘real money’ will be tracked during the live broadcast.

The tournament brought the first game between world champion Magnus Carlsen and his next challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi, since the latter qualified for a shot at the world title in Dubai this coming November by winning the Candidates.

The FTX Crypto Cup is the final Major in the $1.5m Meltwater Champions Chess Tour that climaxes with an over-the-board final in San Francisco this October.’s Titled Tuesday tournament continue to attract enormously strong fields and the games are a good source of new ideas. The opening in this game is identical to a main line of the Austrian Attack, but with a bishop on g5 as opposed to a knight on f3.

N. Abarca Gonzalez – A. Firouzja
Pirc Defense Byrne System 3+1

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.Bg5 Bg7 (For the last 45 years I have been playing 4..c6 here to avoid White’s next) 5.e5 Nfd7 6.f4 0–0 7.h4 c5 (It’s also logical to open the centre, but 7…dxe5 8.dxe5 h6 9.h5 hxg5 10.hxg6 Nxe5 11.Qh5 fxg6 12.Qh7+ Kf7 13.Rd1 is better for White. The bishop is immune. If 7…h6 8.h5 hxg5 9.hxg6 wins and if 7…f6 8.Bc4+) 8.h5 cxd4 9.hxg6 dxc3 10.Qh5 h6

Test Your Strength

N. Abarca Gonzalez – A. Firouzja

White has an immediate win here, how?

11.gxf7+? Rxf7 12.Bc4 Nxe5? (12…d5 13.Bxd5 Nxe5! 14.Rd1 Qf8 15.bxc3 Bg4 is a complete mess and 12…d5 13.Bxh6 cxb2 14.Rd1 Qa5+ 15.Kf1 Nf8 16.Bxg7 Rxg7 17.Qh8+ Kf7 18.Qh5+ draws or Black can continue with 18…Ng6 19.f5 Ke8) 13.fxe5 d5 14.0–0–0! Qb6 15.Bb3 (15.Rxd5! Qxb2+ 16.Kd1 Qb1+ 17.Bc1! or here 16…Nc6 17.Rb5 Bg4+! 18.Qxg4 Rd8+ 19.Rd5 hxg5 and the computer says White is better) 15…hxg5 16.Nf3 Bf5 17.Rxd5 e6 18.Rd6 (Or 18.Nxg5) 18…Qe3+ 19.Kb1 Nc6 20.Nxg5 Nxe5

Test Your Strength

N. Abarca Gonzalez – A. Firouzja White to Play and Win

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answers.

Answer One: 11.Bxh6! fxg6 12.Qxg6 Rf7 13.Bxg7 Rxg7 14.Bc4+.

Answer Two: 21.Rxe6! Kf8 (21…Raf8 22.Nxf7 Rxf7 23.Re8+ Bf8 24.Qh8# or 21…Bxe6 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.Nxe6+) 22.Rxe5 Bxc2+ 23.Bxc2 Qf4 24.Ne6+ 1–0

Play Through the Game


Was this helpful? Share it with a friend :)

4.9 with 3.65K user reviews

Check them on individual course pages