Firouzja 0/3

The bad streak for Firouzja continues. It’s not his actual play over the board though, it’s just his prep that isn’t good enough.

In both games he ended up in a lost position without making a clear mistake.

Not yet

The long awaited climax of the tournament turned out to be an anti-climax. On the upside it’s better to make such a mistake now, than later when it counts.

So what is the point? The point is that this wasn’t complicated. You don’t need Elo 2700 to make the correct positional decision here. The only question is if Elo 2700 justifies violating the rules of positional. Obviously not! The reason is that this type of position is too static. You can’t just make a provocative move to stirr things up. It’s just a positional blunder and you get squashed like a bug.

But isn’t playing d5 a mainline in the Zaitsev? It is, but without the wasting a tempo with a3. Besides that isn’t clear if it is that good.

Game of the Year

The best game of the year was played yesterday by Fabiano Caruana. I am not adding any computer lines, just let sink.

Time for another focus

Over the last year I covered a lot of games by the german child prodigy Vincent Keymer, but I think we can safely forget about him. On an international level the kid is clearly going nowhere.

Firouza on the other hand is a rising superstar who will challenge Carlsen very soon. I am not judging this by result, but by his games. Just look at this: Both sides end up with outside passed pawns, except the white one is a bit more outside. That’s it!

These positions are won:

This is position is a draw:

Oh boy…

The tournament has just started, but for the kids it’s already a rollercoaster of emotions.

Firouzja blew an advantage against Duda, beat Artemiev like a child and lost to So’s two bishops. Shit happens, but he is still +1.
Extremely lucky on the other hand was Keymer who basically did the Houdini twice in order to stay at -1, which should have been -3.

After such a game every coach in the world will tell his kids to never resign. You can’t save a game by resignation after all. On the other hand, how many years of your life are you wasting defending lost positions in the hope for one such terrible blunder?

Child prodigies

This year in Wijk aan Zee two youngers steal the show, at least for me. Who cares about Carlsen and Caruana if you can watch Firouzja and Keymer battle it out? Let’s start with Keymer.

So what was the issue? He plays variations that are supposed to be good in theory, but he has no clue how to handle them in practice. He is weak tactically, but his positional play is even worse. I don’t want to be in Leko’s shoes, because he has to prepare a penalty without goalkeeper for the kid in order to score a full point.

In the meantime Firouzja’s opponent mixes up the move-order.

Carlsen on the Tarrasch

Every year Carlsen prepares a surprise for the Rapid&Blitz World Championship. This year it’s the Tarrasch. Apparently he argues that playing the Panow-Attack a tempo down is sufficient for equality. The plan looks pretty simple: Protect the pawn on c6 with Bd7 and hammer away on the kingside with h5. Very alphazeroish.

But was it really a surprise? The amazing Mr. Dubov has played it four times in 2019, twice at the FIDE Grand Prix!

Update: Apparently I was somewhat behind on this development, because L’Ami even made a video course on it. Sorry, can’t follow everything. The pure Tarrasch hasn’t been in my scope of interest.

And here is the last word on this variation (for now):

Lc0 on the Caro Kann

That is what Leela considers to be best against the Caro Kann.

The funny thing is that they don’t even bother to play classical chess anymore. Playing for 6 hours is probably too much effort.

More on Match Strategy

An interesting case occured at the Jerusalem Grand Prix: Karjakin started with black in the first game and advanced to the next round by simply drawing everything.

Apparently both players decided to skip the classical games and go straight for the tie-break.

Now it becomes more interesting. Two rapid games 25+10:

It’s getting hotter. Two rapid games 10+10:

It’s hot. Two blitz games 5+3:

It’s boiling! Armageddon!!

The rules say “If the score is tied, then there is an Armageddon game”, but they don’t say if there is a coinflip or something to decide who can choose the colors. In the live coverage Miro talked about the drawing of lots, so there was a random event. That tells us that Karjakin got flat out lucky and converted his advantage.

Play it safe!