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Carlsen Sweeps Firouzja 3-0: 'It's Just Me Against The Kids Now!'

Carlsen Sweeps Firouzja 3-0: 'It's Just Me Against The Kids Now!'

AnthonyLevin
| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen reached the Division I Grand Final of the 2023 Julius Baer Generation Cup after defeating GM Alireza Firouzja with a hat trick, 3-0 with no fourth game.

By stark contrast, youth beat experience in the Losers Bracket. GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov lost in 19 moves against GM Fabiano Caruana in their first game but then struck back with two wins to clinch the match. After two draws, GM Denis Lazavik eliminated GM Wesley So after winning with White in the armageddon. 

In Division II, two Russian grandmasters have reached the Winners Final, GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vladislav Artemiev. Both beat their opponents, GMs Bassem Amin and Levon Aronian respectively, in just three games with a 2.5-0.5 score.

In Division III, Shakh is back. GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sent GM Sam Sevian to the Losers Bracket with a 1.5-0.5 score and claimed a Grand Final spot for himself. He won game two with the black pieces after demonstrating that—sometimes—a black king on d8 can be great.

The knockout tournament continues on Saturday, September 2, starting at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 20:30 IST.

See what happened
You can re-watch the Julius Baer Generation Cup on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/Chess. The games can also be followed from our Events Page.
The knockout tournament was hosted by GMs David Howell and Simon Williams as well as IMs Tania Sachdev and Jovanka Houska.

Division I

Four players remain in Division I. In his interview, Carlsen said, "It's just me against the kids now!" as his opponent in the Grand Final is guaranteed to be 20 years old or younger.

Day 3 Match Scores

 

Carlsen-Firouzja 3-0

This matchup, the supreme clash of generations, almost always promises breathtaking tactics and dramatic surprises. All three games were complicated, but besides game two (a real chance for Firouzja), it was Magnus Magic on Magnus Day in what has been, so far, Magnus Week.

Like on Thursday, Carlsen won game one in exceptional style. It was a positional masterpiece where his opponent really didn't have a chance. 

After the game, commentator Williams summed it up: "I don't think Alireza should be that upset with this game because he got a rotten opening. And he didn't really get a chance."

After Carlsen played the silly-looking yet serious move 6.Rg1 against the Sicilian Najdorf, Firouzja responded with a "Dragondorf" setup, playing ...h5 and ...a6. There's not much left to say: the engine disliked Black's setup, and Carlsen played like a machine, making virtually zero mistakes.

Despite finding his play to be "sloppy" at one point (you can't please everybody!), Coach awards Carlsen a 2900 rating based on this game.

This is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

It was once said: "You come at the king, you best not miss." Game two was Firouzja's one true shot.

In a Taimanov Sicilian, Carlsen said he knew 9...b5 was the main move but didn't have the lines memorized so well. Instead, he chose 9...h5?! to mix things up. After about six minutes of thought, Firouzja found the critical knight sacrifice 10.Ndb5!

On move 16, he had to find the only winning move 16.Qb3! but played 16.Rd4? instead. The position was equal and, well, again Magnus Magic took over.

If you play the French Defense with Black, it's maybe better for you to just keep reading along. Don't look at game three. And scroll past the X-post below.

Unlike on Thursday, Carlsen was in a better mood in the interview: "We played three very complicated games, and I feel like I handled them really well." He enjoys a rest day while three youngsters in the Losers Bracket duke it out for one spot in the Grand Final.

Firouzja's not eliminated—with his second life, he will play the winner of Lazavik vs. Abdusattorov. 

Losers Quarterfinals

Youth prevailed as 16-year-old Lazavik and 18-year-old Abdusattorov made it to the final four of the knockout. The older players, Caruana and So, bid the tournament goodbye on Friday.

Caruana-Abdusattorov 1-2

Abdusattorov started dismally, losing a miniature in fewer than 20 moves in the first game. Yet his resilience was strong as steel; he bounced back with back-to-back wins.

The Uzbek GM is versatile in his openings, as much in rapid chess as in classical. In the first game, he tried the offbeat Nimzowitsch Sicilian Defense. For poking the tiger, he got blown off the board in 19 moves.

Not losing heart, the prodigy continued to fight. Caruana played with immaculate accuracy for most of the second game, and it was looking like a second win for the U.S. player, but suddenly came 41.gxf5!? from his opponent. On camera, Caruana looked startled, as his opponent was giving away a knight. 

The omniscient eval bar wasn't impressed, but White's concept was strong: the connected passed pawns in the center offered practical chances. After 44...Qf5??, the American GM went from winning to losing in one move, and Abdusattorov finished the game beautifully, raising his fist in the air with joy when his opponent resigned.

An invigorated Abdusattorov then showed his fearlessness by bidding 14:59 for the armageddon game—essentially stating that he wanted to play for the win with White no matter what. Caruana would have 9:57 with the black pieces and draw odds.

In that game, Caruana made a serious mistake on move 19, shortly lost the exchange, and went on to lose quite simply down material.

In the interview, the Uzbek grandmaster was filled with joy after winning the match—a result that looked so unlikely after the first game. He humbly admitted that he wasn't proud of the quality of his play, but it was still enough to make it to the final four.

Caruana earns $10,000 and 30 tour points on his way out of the knockout. He already has enough tour points for a guaranteed spot in the Finals in Toronto this December.

So-Lazavik 1-2

Both players have a similar slow, positional, technical style. After two draws, Lazavik, playing White in the armageddon game, took the full point in a rook endgame.

The first game was just about as quiet as a "Quiet" Italian Opening can get. Lazavik was better at several points with the black pieces, but it ended in a draw. They drew game two in 16 moves, leading to the second armageddon game in this bracket.

There's an old saying in chess, "All rook endgames are drawn." This strange saying often isn't true, and Lazavik certainly proved it false in this game. Curiously, he blundered away the win on move 42, but So gave it back to him nine moves later.

Despite losing this match, So earned his ticket to the Finals with tour points. He picked up $10,000 as a bonus for reaching this stage, too!

Division I Standings

Division II

Both Nepomniachtchi and Artemiev won their best-of-four matches in just three games. After winning two, they both made draws in game three to advance to the Winners Final.

The 2021 world championship challenger won his first game in 23 moves. The last move, though, is what stands out the most:

Although Artemiev's second win was more tactical, endgame lovers will appreciate the first win. There were many twists and turns earlier, but we begin on move 57.

Black should be able to draw this endgame if he can just sacrifice his knight for that last darned pawn. The task proved to be possible but difficult—Aronian didn't find the way in the game.

Do check out the line with 58...Nc4—just about impossible to find in a game, but pretty to look at!

If the bishop were on the other color complex, it would be the same as this nice game by GM Bobby FIscher against GM Mark Taimanov.

Division II Standings

Division III

Mamedyarov will be looking to win a division for the first time in this year's Champions Chess Tour. After defeating Sevian in the Winners Final, his chances are looking promising. 

Following a drawn game one after 113 moves, he won the second in a quicker, flashier style. In a sharp Four Knights Sicilian, Sevian played the natural check 12.Qh5+, but it turned out the black king was perfectly content on d8, drinking a martini on the safe dark squares.

It was the white king on e1 that heard the tolling of the bells.

If you were impressed by Caruana's 19-move miniature in Division I, you'll fall out of your chair when you see this one. After winning the first game with Black, GM Dmitry Andreikin won the next (nonsensical) game in seven moves, with a little help from his opponent.

He was eliminated in the following round by GM Oleksandr Bortnyk.

Division III Standings


The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is the biggest online tournament of the year. It is composed of six events that span the entire year and culminate in live in-person finals. With the best players in the world and a prize fund of $2,000,000, the CCT is Chess.com's most important event yet.


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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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