I concluded my last newsletter by giving a short preview of the 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss and Women’s FIDE Grand Swiss. By now, both tournaments have ended, and the Candidates tournaments are closer to shaping up. The Grand Swiss and Women’s Grand Swiss were won by Grandmasters Alireza Firouzja and Lei Tingjie respectively.
The Women’s Grand Swiss
Lei Tingjie is a 24-year-old Grandmaster from China and is currently ranked #7 on the live rating list with a rating of 2535. Her performance in the tournament was so dominant that she clinched the title with one round to go. Her final score was 9/11, a remarkable result in a tough field which earned her a spot in the upcoming Women’s Candidates Tournament, 30 rating points and the first prize of $20,000. The women’s Candidates Tournament’s field is almost set, with the final spot going to the highest rated player on the January rating list. The tournament will take place sometime next year and the winner will change reigning World Women’s Champion GM Ju Wenjun’s crown.
GM Lei Tingjie at the closing ceremony. Photo courtesy of Anastasia Karlovich for FIDE
In other good news, IM Elizabeth Paehtz of Germany scored her final Grandmaster norm, becoming the 40th female player in history to claim the Grandmaster title! While there are titles specifically for women, the Grandmaster title is the highest one and is gender neutral. A player needs to score 3 GM norms and reach a rating of 2500 to earn this highly coveted title.
The Grand Swiss
The 18-year-old phenom Alireza Firouzja’s rapid ascent to the top continued with his impressive tournament win with a score of 8.5/11. This victory earned him a spot in the 2022 Candidates Tournament. As of right now, he is having another excellent tournament in the European Team Championship, and is ranked number 3 in the world ahead of GMs Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Winning next year’s Candidates Tournament will make him the youngest World Championship contender at the age of 19. Given his recent successes, the idea does not seem far-fetched. With 4 games left in the European Team Championship, it is also possible for him to climb to the #2 spot in the world, behind Magnus Carlsen.
GM Alireza Firouzja at the press conference. Photo courtesy of Mark Livshitz for FIDE
American fans will be happy to know that Fabiano Caruana finished second in the tournament, thus punching his ticket to the Candidates Tournament. The 29-year-old was the challenger in 2018 and will be one of the favorites to earn the right to challenge the World Champion once again.
2021 World Championship Match
The highly anticipated World Championship match between the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and his challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia will kick off next week! The players and the teams will be arriving in Dubai shortly to get acclimated to the conditions and prepare for the upcoming match. I will talk about the match as it unfolds in the upcoming newsletters.
In the meantime, enjoy this highly entertaining game between Grandmasters Boris Gelfand and Sergei Movsesian from the Grand Swiss that includes three pawn promotions!