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Firouzja Eliminates Nakamura; Van Foreest, Abdusattorov To Meet In Winners Final

Firouzja Eliminates Nakamura; Van Foreest, Abdusattorov To Meet In Winners Final

AnthonyLevin
| 9 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Jorden van Foreest and Nodirbek Abdusattorov advance to the Winners Final of the Champions Chess Tour ChessKid Cup 2023 Division I after defeating GMs Dmitrij Kollars and Fabiano Caruana respectively. In the Losers Bracket, GMs Alireza Firouzja and Jules Moussard respectively eliminated GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Aleksandr Shimanov. Firouzja and Moussard will play in the Losers Quarterfinals. 

There were two 3-0 sweeps in the Division II Winners Bracket. Vietnamese number-two GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son surprisingly dispatched Vietnamese number-one GM Liem Le; the other one was GM Raunak Sadhwani's resounding match win over GM Kirill Alekseenko. In the Winners Semifinals, we will see Nguyen vs. GM Grigoriy Oparin and Sadhwani taking on the "big fish," GM Vladimir Fedoseev.

 In the Division III Winners Semifinals, GM Alan Pichot defeated GM Vitaliy Bernadskiy and GM Pentala Harikrishna overcame GM Denis Lazavik. Pichot and Harikrishna will meet in the Winners Final.

The ChessKid Cup continues on Wednesday, May 24, starting at 8 a.m. PT/17:00 CEST

How to watch?
You can watch the Champions Chess Tour ChessKid Cup 023 on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky, David Howell, IMs Tania Sachdev, and FM James Canty III.


Division I

Losers Bracket

The Losers Bracket featured two-game matches instead of the regular four games in the Winners. A match loss in this bracket means elimination.

The two highest-rated players in the division, Nakamura and Firouzja, found themselves in the Losers Bracket, fighting on the edge of a cliff after just one day. 

Check out the highlights of the day below:

Nakamura-Firouzja 0.5-1.5

Firouzja convincingly won the match. He was unable to convert an advantage in the first game but succeeded in the second.

Although Nakamura was worse or even losing at a few points in the game, his tenacious defense saved the half-point—a draw. His fortune didn't improve in game two though.

In a slow, maneuvering Italian Game, the French number-one was able to pick up the bishop pair. In a sharp position where both kings were weak, Nakamura saw the right idea for equality but played the wrong move—Firouzja didn't hesitate and quickly played the winning sequence.

You can check out Nakamura's recap video here:

In the interview, Firouzja mentioned that he expected to still be in the Winners Bracket by this point. After eliminating the Chessable Masters champion, he stated: "There was not so much pressure on me... I just wanted to play good chess. At the end, I was trying to make good moves and practice for the future tournaments."

Nakamura exits the ChessKid Cup with $7,500 and 20 additional tour points.

Moussard-Shimanov 2-0

Moussard won both games in this two-game encounter. The first game ended with a tactical trick, while in the second his opponent, who was in a must-win situation, was unable to make inroads and lost again.

Shimanov, playing Black, had the upper hand for most of the first game, but by move 40 it was clear that he had lost control. Can you find the dirty, winning move After 42...Qg6?

White to play and win.

Needing just a draw in game two, Moussard nevertheless played the Sicilian Defense, and White opted for the Moscow Variation. The French grandmaster managed to trade pieces and equalize. In an endgame with queen and knight (plus extra pawn) vs. two rooks and knight, he achieved a "two-results position" where he could play for a draw or win—and he went on to achieve the latter.

Shimanov earns $7,500 and 20 tour points for making it to this stage.

Winners Bracket

Caruana-Abdusattorov 1.5-2.5

Abdusattorov deservedly won after playing better chess in this match. After a relatively boring draw in round one, where neither side had chances, the match exploded in the three subsequent, decisive games. 

Abdusattorov won game two after his white queen went on a pawn-hunting escapade on the queenside. Up material, he defended the threats and went on to win a clean game. 

However, Caruana came back and won a long game three after 57 moves. 

Everything was on the line in the final game, where a draw would lead to an armageddon game. In a Catalan Opening (repeating Firouzja's 6.Qd3 from the Candidates Tournament 2022), Abdusattorov achieved an advantage after 20.b4 cxb4?—as he said in the press conference: "I think Black is in huge trouble" His technique against the former world championship challenger from there was flawless. 

This technically precise and impressive conversion is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below.

GM Rafael Leitao GotD

Asked what worked well, he responded: "His openings went my way and, actually, I got a pleasant position from the white pieces and, with black pieces, I had a fighting game." Besides game three, he said: "... everything went my way."

Kollars-Van Foreest 1.5-2.5

"Calm" and "consistent" would be the antonyms to describe what really happened in Kollars' matches thus far. Out of nine games played in the ChessKid Cup, he's made just one draw—a game that was also close to being decisive. After a rocky start to the match, Van Foreest took the lead in round three and saved a lost position in game four to win the match.

After losing game one, Van Foreest said he didn't rate his chances of winning the match very highly, "but somehow I managed to strike back with the black pieces immediately in the game after that." He also won game three and needed just a draw in the last one to win the match.

The "really crazy" (Van Foreest) game four, was critical. Just as Kollars came within a hair's length of sending the match to tiebreaks, he slipped in the (difficult!) queen endgame with little time and allowed a perpetual check.

Division I Standings

Division II

3-0 sweeps don't come easy in any match, let alone against some of the best players in the world. Nguyen and Sadhwani were up to the challenge, however, and clinched matches with three games, without needing a fourth.

The most impressive of the six games was Sadhwani's 29-move win with Black in game one. There, he reminded us that king safety is an important factor even after the queens are traded.

Division II Standings

Division III

Both Pichot and Harikrishna won their first game and drew the second to win the two-game match in the Winners Final. 

The more crushing win in the Winners Semifinals was Pichot's. He dismantled the Winawer Variation of the French Defense, a cautionary tale for those who enjoy trading off their dark-squared bishop on c3 in the opening (like this author). The weakened dark squares came back to haunt Black later.

Division III Standings


The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is a massive chess circuit combining the best features of previous Champions Chess Tour editions with the Chess.com Global Championship. The tour comprises six events spanning the entire year and culminating in live in-person Finals. With the very best players in the world and a $2,000,000 prize fund, the CCT is Chess.com's most important event to date.

Only grandmasters are eligible for automatic entry into the Play-In Phase. Other titled players (IM and below) can play in the Qualifiers that take place every Monday starting February 13, except on weeks with a Play-In or Knockout (21 in total). The top three players from each Qualifier will be eligible to participate in the upcoming Play-In. 


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AnthonyLevin
NM Anthony Levin

NM Anthony Levin caught the chess bug at the "late" age of 18 and never turned back. He earned his national master title in 2021, actually the night before his first day of work at Chess.com.

Anthony, who also earned his Master's in teaching English in 2018, taught English and chess in New York schools for five years and strives to make chess content accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. At Chess.com, he writes news articles and manages social media for chess24.

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