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Firouzja Turns 18 As Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour Gets Underway
The playing hall is the Gobelins Manufactory in Paris. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja Turns 18 As Paris Rapid & Blitz Grand Chess Tour Gets Underway

PeterDoggers
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28 | Chess Event Coverage

The second event in the 2021 Grand Chess Tour started on Friday with the first day of rapid in the Paris Rapid & Blitz. After three rounds, there's a four-way tie among GMs Levon Aronian, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wesley So, and Peter Svidler. GM Alireza Firouzja played on his 18th birthday.

How to watch?
The games of the Paris Rapid & Blitz can be found here on our live events platform.

Paris Rapid Blitz 2021 LIVE
Less than a week after the Superbet Chess Classic ended in Bucharest, the Grand Chess Tour continues right away with its second event. The Gobelins Manufactory, a historic tapestry factory in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, is the location for a $150,000 tournament that includes three days of rapid chess (25+10) and two days of blitz (5+2), with the rapid games counting double.

Half the Superbet field traveled from Bucharest to Paris: besides the aforementioned Aronian and So those are Fabiano Caruana, Teimour Radjabov, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

It's definitely nice to see Nepomniatchi playing his first event as the winner of the Candidates. The Russian GM was initially a full Grand Chess Tour participant but now a wildcard in Paris, as he needs to focus on preparing for the world title match this summer.

Ian Nepomniachtchi Paris Grand Chess Tour
Ian Nepomniachtchi has entered the building. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Like MVL, the two other wildcards are local heroes as well. Firouzja has been living in Chartres for quite a while now and is likely to become a French citizen soon. He turned 18 today but didn't get to enjoy a victory on his birthday, scoring two draws and a loss to Radjabov.

Alireza Firouzja 18th birthday
Alireza Firouzja played on his 18th birthday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The third wildcard is GM Etienne Bacrot, who was once the youngest grandmaster in history. Now mostly working as a second for MVL, Bacrot showed his skills on the board in the first round against GM Richard Rapport, who had to withdraw from Bucharest but now enters the Grand Chess Tour after all. What hasn't changed is the Hungarian playing offbeat openings:

Bacrot will only be playing the rapid segment; for the blitz, his seat will be taken by none other than the 14th world champion GM Vladimir Kramnik. The players' combined score will account for one place in the final standings.

Etienne Bacrot Paris 2021
Bacrot plays the rapid, Kramnik the blitz. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The first round also saw a spectacular game between Svidler and Vachier-Lagrave. Perhaps inspired by playing in France, the Frenchman chose the French and on move 11 decided to close the position on the queenside. Soon after, that area of the board got completely fixed and the big question was whether White would have a good breakthrough on the kingside. It came, and Svidler won an exchange, but even that wasn't the full story. A game that would take days to properly analyze:

Svidler Vachier-Lagrave Paris 2021
The players were in good spirits after an amazing game. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Rapport also lost his second game. So found a nice final move:

The h6-pawn was clearly the theme of the round as Nepomniachtchi's quick win against Bacrot involved that weakness as well, and so did our Game of the Day:

Vachier-Lagrave Radjabov Paris 2021
Vachier-Lagrave vs. Radjabov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

In general, it was a pretty good day for the fans of brutal attacks. Aronian also went full force on Bacrot's king:

Attack Levon Aronian
Great attacking play by Levon Aronian. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Paris Rapid & Blitz 2021 | Day 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Svidler,Peter 2714 2883 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3 3
2 Aronian,Levon 2781 2874 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2.5
3 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2792 2874 ½ 1 ½ 2.0/3 2
4 So,Wesley 2770 2865 ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2
5 Caruana,Fabiano 2820 2778 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.75
6 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2760 2766 0 ½ 1 1.5/3 2.25
7 Radjabov,Teimour 2765 2766 ½ 0 1 1.5/3 2
8 Firouzja,Alireza 2759 2630 ½ ½ 0 1.0/3 2
9 Bacrot,Etienne 2678 2659 0 0 1 1.0/3 0.5
10 Rapport,Richard 2763 2468 ½ 0 0 0.5/3

All games day 1

The Paris Rapid & Blitz takes place June 18-22, 2021 in Paris. The time control in the rapid is 25 minutes for each player with a 10-second increment per move, starting from move one. The time control in the blitz is five minutes for each player with a two-second increment per move, starting from move one. The rapid counts double for the final standings. The tournament is the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $150,000 prize fund with a first prize of $37,500.

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