“I regard chess as being an equivalent exchange.”Mikhail Botvinnik, 6th World Chess Champion
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the interest in our beloved game from people around the world has increased substantially. I was pleasantly surprised to see that more than 50,000 viewers across streaming platforms were watching the Tata Steel tournament on Saturday! At least we can celebrate this positive effect of the current global predicament.
However, the temporary disappearance of high-level, over-the-board (OTB) games has led to the uprising of fast-control, online rapid tournaments. I suppose that holding classic control online tournaments is not practical for several reasons, including the 5-6 hours of screen time that would be required of players to complete just one game.
Even the long-lasting Hastings International Chess Congress, which usually consists of classic OTB games, was organized as an online rapid tournament this year. Since the yearly event in 1920/1, the tournament has only previously broken with tradition by canceling its events for a few years during World War II. While the format of this year’s tournament was different than usual, I think most would agree that an online tournament is better than none at all!
Rapid and blitz online tournaments are a great source of entertainment for me, personally; however, I believe that the quality of the game and time control are directly correlated. To me, the exchange for great entertainment is the downfall in the quality of the game; therefore, I hope that we will be able to resume OTB classical tournaments soon, which will give us even more high-quality games to choose from for the Game of the Week.
Meanwhile, it is great to see the return of the Tata Steel tournament. Yesterday was the first day of the event and the players produced some great games. Of course, the most intriguing game was Carlsen vs. Firouzja. Many people view Firouzja as the “Prince” who will eventually overthrow the “King” (Carlsen), making this game the most highly anticipated match of the day. Ultimately, the game satisfied viewers’ expectations of a suspenseful battle between these two top players!
Game of the Week is: Magnus Carlsen vs. Alireza Firouzja
The tactical finale of the game grabbed the chess world’s attention, but Firouzja’s deep tank right in the opening captured mine. Upon analyzing the openings of their previous encounters, I realized that there was a tense opening battle that happened which ended up in the World Champion’s favor by allowing him to corner Firouzja into a position that was more familiar to Carlsen. This resulted in Firouzja spending too much time trying to navigate through a position that is relatively well-known among top players but unfamiliar to him, eventually costing him a point in a time scramble at the end.
In this analysis, we attempt to explain in detail and provide our perspective on this match – especially its opening – between the Prince and the King. If you are not into the opening variations just follow the mainline.
Thank you for reading! We would appreciate your feedback; please drop a comment below. If you find any noteworthy games that you think should appear on Game of the Week, please send us a message on Chess.com. Please note that Game of the Week will cover games played from Saturday to Saturday of each week, and any games played on Sunday will go to the next week. See you next Sunday!
Edited by Della Almind