Fedoseev Eliminates Firouzja In Speed Chess Thriller

Fedoseev Eliminates Firouzja In Speed Chess Thriller

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In the third match of the 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event, the Russian GM Vladimir Fedoseev (@Bigfish1995) scored an upset victory against Iranian teenage star GM Alireza Firouzja (@Firouzja2003). Fedoseev ended up winning the match in overtime.

The next match is November 8, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe between Wesley So and Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

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There have been quite a few epic matches in the history of the Speed Chess Championship, but the Firouzja-Fedoseev match was something special. Co-commentator GM Anish Giri couldn't hide his excitement and even admiration for his fellow St. Petersburg-born grandmaster Fedoseev.

Another Dutch GM shared that sentiment afterward with an emote that referred to the Russian GM's username on

It was a clash between two of the most active online players these days. "I was playing online from eight years old. I guess I'm just a little addicted, I think, and I am good at it," said Firouzja.

Fedoseev: "I play a lot of online blitz because I see it as good practice. You can play a lot of good players and spend a good time."

The live broadcast of the match.

The first upset result of the championship was a combination of Firouzja not finding his top form and Fedoseev playing some very impressive chess, even when under huge psychological pressure during the playoff as he failed to decide matters earlier.

The match saw a shocking start as Firouzja lost three of the first four games with one draw. The second game especially suggested that the Iranian prodigy did not come to the battle in his best form.

It took seven games and more than an hour of play before Firouzja finally scored his first win. An early exchange sacrifice worked wonderfully as Fedoseev failed to activate his queenside bishop:

Two draws followed, and it was Fedoseev who was leading by a two-point margin going into the three-minute segment.

Except for a draw in the first, all three-minute games ended decisively. Firouzja won that segment 4.5-3.5 to narrow the deficit to just one point before the bullet.

The first game to pick out here is game 14, which saw Fedoseev winning a drawn pawn endgame. At first, it seemed Firouzja once again messed up the distant opposition (like in his game with GM Magnus Carlsen at Norway Chess), but things were a bit more complicated than that:

Firouzja missed a golden opportunity to level the score right away in the first bullet game as he spoiled a winning position. This was one of the key games of the match because a few moves before the draw could be sealed, he dropped a full knight and was down by two points instead:

This was a tough blow, and you could see it from Firouzja's body language. Not only was the one-second increment working against him (he is used to playing 1+0 or even 30-second chess), but he just wasn't sharp enough. 

But he was given another chance.

In game 23, with Fedoseev still two up (12-10), the players reached a completely drawn, pawnless queen endgame. With four minutes left on the match clock, commentator Giri expected Fedoseev to play on for a while to gain time and make it impossible timewise for his opponent to come back on the scoreboard.

Instead, Fedoseev showed sportsmanship by agreeing to the draw right away. And he had to deal with the consequences very soon.

With 3:54 on the match clock, the 24th game started. Firouzja absolutely needed to win this one and then also the next to force a playoff.

Fedoseev stole the show with a rook sacrifice on f7 that reached a dream attacking position for a bullet game. It wasn't winning, but Firouzja soon blundered—and then it was.

Fedoseev then missed a direct win as he continued on a sacrificial path that forced the black king to walk to the center of the board. IM Danny Rensch: "This is a $10,000 king walk!"

It was still equal, but there didn't seem to be a clear perpetual check, and Fedoseev eventually blundered his queen. He resigned with 20 seconds left on the match clock. 

The most epic game of the match was over, and Firouzja was still alive.


Kind of expectedly, Firouzja managed to win the next game on-demand as well. Fedoseev was just not ready yet to deal with the disappointing end of the previous game.

A tactical sequence had gone wrong for Firouzja, who was down a piece in an endgame but eventually turned his queenside pawns into heroes:

Firouzja had done it. He was now the psychological favorite to win this match.

As the first playoff, four more bullet games followed. After a win for each player and one draw, it was Fedoseev who turned out to have the strongest nerves after all.

He won the last bullet game, his second as Black, and avoided the armageddon that would have followed:

"You can see that I played a bit relaxed in this match," said Fedoseev. "Many times when I had chances to score better, I played my worst chess. I just needed some moments to play better than with a huge plus score."

Firouzja: "My main mistake was that I was giving him very comfortable positions with Black. This Reti is just not good for this format. I think I should have gone for 1.e4 and play the main lines. In the last game, I understood this was the main mistake of this match. But, of course, he played better chess today, and he deserved the win."

Firouzja won $965.52 based on win percentage; Fedoseev won $2,000 for the victory plus $1,034.48 on percentage, totaling $3,034.48. He moves on to the quarterfinals, where he will play the winner of GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Haik Martirosyan.

All games

Here's the remaining schedule for the round of 16:

  • November 8, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: So-Abdusattorov
  • November 11, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nepomniachtchi-Aronian
  • November 12, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Nakamura-Martirosyan
  • November 15, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Caruana-Duda
  • November 16, 2020 at 9 a.m. / 18:00 Central Europe: Giri-Artemiev

2020 speed chess bracket

The 2020 Speed Chess Championship Main Event is a knockout tournament among 16 of the best grandmasters in the world who will play for a $100,000 prize fund, double the amount of last year. The tournament will run November 1-December 13, 2020 on Each individual match will feature 90 minutes of 5+1 blitz, 60 minutes of 3+1 blitz, and 30 minutes of 1+1 bullet chess.

Speed Chess Guess the Move

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