Firouzja Grabs Sole Lead On Tata Steel Chess Day 3
Alireza Firouzja tops the standings after three rounds. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Firouzja Grabs Sole Lead On Tata Steel Chess Day 3

| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

Alireza Firouzja defeated Vladislav Artemiev to become the sole leader after three rounds at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. With his third draw, Magnus Carlsen equaled Sergei Tiviakov's streak of 110 undefeated games.

All games in the challengers group ended in draws today, which means there's still a tie for first place among five players.

How to follow Tata Steel Chess
You can follow the live games here as part of our live portal. Live commentary is provided on every day at 13:20 CET (7:20 a.m. Eastern, 4:20 a.m. Pacific). Commentary is provided by GM Robert Hess and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni during the first week, and by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.

The chess world has a new star, and it's rising fast: Alireza Firouzja.

When Carlsen drew his game quickly in the second round, the Norwegian television broadcast didn't stop immediately, like it usually does. It decided to continue, because it was clear that the viewers wanted to follow the Iranian teenager more.

Today Carlsen also finished earlier, and this time the Norwegian TV viewers had to check online if they wanted to see the end of Firouzja's game. It was going on too long to justify air time—but that was mostly because Artemiev was spending lots of time in an already-lost endgame.

Alireza Firouzja 2020 Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee
A fantastic start for Firouzja. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Despite having quite a lot of experience in the Caro-Kann, Artemiev went wrong in the opening and was facing difficulties early on. 

"After that it was just a clean game I think," said Firouzja, who was obviously happy with the tournament situation. "I could have gone even better; I was winning yesterday, but I will take it of course!"

Firouzja being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

The play of the other star in the field, Magnus Carlsen, was again not too convincing. He might feel the same way ("I'll take it") as his third draw got him even with Tiviakov, and one game away from breaking the record of 110 undefeated games.

But it was a slightly scary game for Carlsen. At some point it was Jeffery Xiong who could have been hoping for more than a draw.

Magnus Carlsen unbeaten streak 2020 Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee
Carlsen can break Tiviakov's record tomorrow. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Carlsen came well-prepared, and played quite aggressively. "When he pushed g4 I was able to create some threats against his king and it started to become tricky," said Xiong.

Carlsen: "I wanted to try this new idea of h5, g4 to take space. The problem is that positions like this are very difficult to play when you have this open king. In theory it looks nice, with the space and everything, but it's easy to go astray."

Carlsen being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Xiong won a pawn, and the world champion needed to defend carefully: "It was about damage limitation. I went for an ending hoping I could make a draw there, and fortunately I managed," said Carlsen.

Xiong being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Besides Firouzja, the Dutchman Jorden van Foreest has been making a name for himself by scoring his second win in three days. He used the Alapin Sicilian to beat the 2018 world rapid champion Daniil Dubov.

Van Foreest got his preparation on the board, and then found a number of only-moves to keep his advantage. Very soon, Dubov was mostly trying to create chaos in a position that was objectively lost for him.

Jorden van Foreest 2020 Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel
Jorden van Foreest. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

The Dutch GM gave a similar remark to Xiong's the other day: "I am very happy of course, but tomorrow I am playing Carlsen so I shouldn't stay too happy for too long," said van Foreest. 

Van Foreest being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Van Foreest's compatriot Anish Giri played some strange moves in the opening in his game with Viswanathan Anand, as he gave up the center voluntarily and then moved his knight to its initial square. It was expected that he'd suffer for a long time, but the game abruptly ended when Anand accepted Giri's timely draw offer.

Anand Giri 2020 Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel
Giri stretching his back during his game against Anand. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Giri explained that his draw offer was mostly for himself to calm down and for his opponent maybe to get some doubts: "I didn't offer for him to agree; I offered a draw to change sort of the course of the game a little bit. I thought I was surviving the position already but I was feeling way too uncomfortable and I spent way too much time," Giri said. 

Still, Anand left the playing hall with most fans wondering why he had been so friendly to Giri.

Giri being interviewed after the game. Video: Tata Steel Chess.

Fabiano Caruana might be holding off on his main weapons until the candidates, but he nonetheless managed to keep an edge against Yu Yangyi's Petroff, with the 3.d4 variation.

This advantage turned into a full pawn, but the Chinese player always had compensation. He went astray, however, shortly before the time control:

Nikita Vitiugov and Wesley So drew an Open Ruy Lopez where most of their play, including their double-rook endgame, had been on the board in an earlier grandmaster game. Jan-Krzysztof Duda held yet another worse endgame, which means Vladislav Kovalev got rid of the zero next to his name.

Masters, round-three games:

Tata Steel Chess round 3 standings Masters

Nothing changed in the challengers group, where all seven games ended in draws. The longest battle was between Surya Ganguly and Nodirbek Abdusattorov, where the 15-year-old Uzbek showed that he's a good defender:

2020 Tata Steel Challengers
All draws today in the challengers group. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Challengers, round-three games:

Tata Steel Chess 2020 Challengers Results

Like in previous years, the official video broadcast is produced by, which you can watch on both and All rounds start at 1:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. Eastern, 4:30 a.m. Pacific) in Wijk aan Zee, except for round five.

  • On Jan. 16 (Eindhoven) the rounds start half an hour later at 2 p.m. local.
  • Rest days are scheduled for Jan. 15, 20 and 23.
  • The final round on Jan. 26 starts 90 minutes earlier at noon local time.

Commentary will be provided by GM Robert Hess and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni during the first week and by GM Peter Leko and IM Sopiko Guramishvili during the second week.

Replay the live broadcast of the third round.

Previous report:

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