LatviaAlireza Firouzja becomes the youngest player to attend a Candidates tournament that can compete in a round-robin format, since former Chess King Bobby Fischer in 1959.
Grigoriy Oparin’s draw in the final round helped Firouzja take the top spot in the Grand Swiss Super Championship with eight points from 11 games. The 18-year-old player and runner-up Fabiano Caruana won a place in the Candidates 2022 – the tournament to choose the challenger for the Chess King title at the end of next year.
Firouzja shoves many achievements of a young player in Candidates. He was the youngest player to win a place in Candidates since Magnus Carlsen in 2005 at the age of 15. At that time, Candidates took place in a knockout format, not a round-robin as traditionally. If only round-robin Candidates tournaments are counted, Firouzja is the youngest player to appear since Fischer in 1959 at the age of 16. Fischer and Carlsen then became the 11th and 16th Chess Kings in chess history, respectively.
Firouzja’s performance at Grand Swiss 2021 is equivalent to a player with Elo 2,855, approximately the current Carlsen. At one point in the tournament he climbed to number four in the world. Firouzja’s chances of progressing were threatened when he lost to Caruana in game nine. But he immediately recovered to defeat David Howell in game 10. After this tournament, Firouzja’s Elo was 2,781.5, if rounded to 2,782 would be equal to the number four world player Ian Nepomniachtchi. Nepomniachtchi was also the challenger to Carlsen’s Chess King from November 26 to December 14.
“My most important victory was the penultimate game against Howell,” Firouzja said. “At that time he was winning continuously and was in high form. I had just lost to Caruana.”
Candidates 2022 will include eight players in a round-robin two-legged round. Five players were present: Firouzja, Caruana, Sergey Karjakin, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Teimour Radjabov. One of the remaining three places belongs to the loser of the chess King match between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi. The last two places are for two players with high achievements in the Grand Prix series from February 2022 to April 2022.
Grand Swiss is the largest-scale Swiss tournament in the world, first held in 2019 to select a spot for the Candidates 2020. This tournament takes place in Riga, Latvia, bringing together 108 Grandmasters with average Elo. 2,639. 11-round tournament, from October 27 to November 7. The two top Vietnamese players, Le Quang Liem and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, were invited, but did not participate in the tournament.