Continuing his stunning form, D. Gukesh brought down Alireza Firouzja - World No. 2 in live ratings - to open his campaign in the 11th Norway Chess in Stavanger, Norway, on Tuesday.
On a day when World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen lost to Fabiano Caruana, Gukesh nailed Firouzja in 37 moves to be the day’s other winner in the classical time format, in the elite 10-player field. Later, Anish Giri, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won their Armageddon games to follow the leaders.
In the Italian game, Gukesh played black and recognised Firouzja’s bishop-move on the 28th turn as his chance to gain the upper hand. Coupled with the fact that Alireza came under tremendous time-pressure - needing to make 9 moves in 20 seconds without increment - Gukesh held a position of comfort.
Alireza traded his rook for Gukesh’s menacing knight but that did not ease the pressure. Soon, after exchanging his queen for Gukesh’s rook-pair, the Iran-born French national discovered that the black queen was ready to wreak more havoc. With one second left on the clock for three moves, Alireza stared at his losing position and resigned after 37 moves.
The victory over Alireza, rated 2785, was worth 5.7 rating points for Gukesh. The Indian youngster moved to the 15th spot in World rankings with a live rating of 2742.
As per the tournament rules, for winning the classical game, Gukesh and Caruana gained three points and shared the lead. After earning a point each for a draw, a victory in the Armageddon games brought in an additional half-point to Mamedyarov, Giri and So.
Second-round pairings: Gukesh-Nakamura; Carlsen-So; Tari-Abdusattorov; Giri-Caruana; Firouzja-Mamedyarov.
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