Firouzja Wins Prague Chess Festival Masters
Alireza Firouzja wins in Prague. Photo: Vladimir Jagr/Prague Chess Festival.

Firouzja Wins Prague Chess Festival Masters

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52 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Alireza Firouzja won the Prague Chess Festival's Masters tournament after beating GM Vidit Gujrathi 2-0 in a playoff. The two had the best tiebreak in a group of five players finishing on 5/9.

GM Jorden van Foreest emerged as the sole winner of the Challengers after beating GM Hannes Stefansson, while GM Andrey Esipenko drew his last game and GM Kacper Piorun lost.

The last day in Prague was another dramatic affair especially in the Masters group, with three decisive games and a rollercoaster of a draw between GM David Anton Guijarro and Firouzja. The Iranian teenager played the King's Indian but was initially outplayed by the Spaniard who employed the Petrosian variation. 

Shortly before the time control, Anton could have decided the game (and the tournament!) in his favor, but he let it slip away:

Meanwhile, tournament leader Vidit wasn't able to recover from his most unfortunate loss the other day and went down against Duda.

GM Sam Shankland then joined the group of players on five points thanks to a win against GM Nikita Vitiugov.

Prague Masters | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 Vidit Gujrathi 2721 2744 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 5.0/9 22.5
2 Alireza Firouzja 2726 2743 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 5.0/9 22.25
3 Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2755 2741 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/9 22
4 David Anton Guijarro 2697 2747 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/9 21.25
5 Sam Shankland 2683 2748 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 21.25
6 Nikita Vitiugov 2731 2705 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 20.25
7 Pentala Harikrishna 2713 2707 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/9 19.75
8 Markus Ragger 2670 2672 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/9 18
9 David Navara 2717 2668 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 4.0/9 17.25
10 Nils Grandelius 2659 2593 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 3.0/9

The regulations stipulated a playoff between the top two players in the final standings, determined by head-to-head results, Sonneborn-Berger tiebreaks, and the number of games played with Black (in that order). This meant that Firouzja and Vidit advanced to the tiebreak match despite a five-way tie.

It was the 16-year-old Iranian who won both 5+3 games (the last one on time) to clinch his first big tournament victory. At the same time, the grapes were sour for Vidit, who lost his last four games in this event.

Game 1:

Game 2:

Like Vidit, Stefansson was leading the Challengers for most of the event but then suffered two consecutive losses in the final rounds. After van Foreest beat him on Friday, the Dutch grandmaster finished clear first, scoring six points.

Jorden van Foreest Prague Challengers
Van Foreest promoted to the 2021 Prague Masters. Photo: Vladimir Jagr/Prague Chess Festival.

While there was not a clear blunder from the Icelandic grandmaster, he started to make some dubious choices right after the opening and then reached a horribly passive position.

Prague Challengers | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1 Jorden van Foreest 2667 2696 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 6.0/9
2 Nijat Abasov 2670 2655 ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.5/9 23.75
3 Andrey Esipenko 2654 2656 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 5.5/9 22.5
4 Mateusz Bartel 2639 2619 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/9 21.5
5 Kacper Piorun 2611 2621 ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0/9 20.75
6 Hannes Stefansson 2529 2630 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 5.0/9 18.75
7 Nguyen Thai Dai Van 2560 2588 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4.5/9
8 Lukas Cernousek 2442 2522 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 3.5/9
9 Jan Krejci 2559 2423 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 2.5/9 12
10 Tadeas Kriebel 2524 2427 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 2.5/9 10.25

The Prague Chess Festival had a prize fund of 44,000 euros ($48,000) and ran February 12-21 in Hotel Don Giovanni in Prague.


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