Parham Maghsoodloo eyes resurgence after Chennai Grand Masters stumble

The 23-year-old Iranian was handed a crushing loss by Pavel Eljanov in the first round of the Chennai GM tournament, further complicating his journey. 

Published : Dec 23, 2023 21:10 IST , CHENNAI - 5 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran in action.
FILE PHOTO: Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran in action. | Photo Credit: The Hindu / Debasish Bhaduri

FILE PHOTO: Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran in action. | Photo Credit: The Hindu / Debasish Bhaduri


The conclusion of the Chennai Grand Masters 2023 heralds promising prospects for Indian fans, as local lad D. Gukesh won the eight-player tournament to virtually seal his spot at the Candidates 2024.

This implies that five Indias may potentially play in the Candidates as Koneru Humpy is very close to confirming her place via rating spot. 

However, the outlook is far less optimistic for Iranian fans, as both Parham Maghsoodloo and Alireza Firouzja (who recently switched allegiance to France) are on the brink of missing out on the Candidates.

Firouzja, the youngest player ever to have crossed the 2800 rating mark, won the FIDE Grand Swiss in 2021 to confirm his spot in the Candidates 2022, where he finished sixth with a score of 6.5/14. 

Firouzja, who already had dim chances for a spot, encountered setbacks due to his inactivity over the year and was met with another blow when FIDE decided not to recognise the tournament he announced at the last minute.

The current world No. 7, Firouzja, needed to surpass Wesley So of the USA in the live ratings to secure the Candidate’s place through the rating spot. 

Meanwhile, for Parham, winning the strong-field Chennai Grand Master with a plus-five score difference was already a tough ask. 

ALSO READ | Arjun Erigaisi: Not the best feeling to finish second on tiebreaks

To compound matters, Parham was handed a crushing loss by Pavel Eljanov in the first round of the Chennai GM tournament, further complicating his journey to qualify. 

It took the three-time Iranian national champion three draws and a loss to fire his engines and get the first win of the tournament when he beat Hungary’s Sanan Sjugirov in the fourth round. 

Speaking to  Sportstar after round four, Parham said, “I am very happy with today’s result. It was preparation for the most part. I was very confident about this game. I thought everything went smoothly. I needed to calculate well... and I did that and got the win. It was the most important result for me after four rounds to get at least one win in the tournament.”

Parham had put enormous time pressure on Sjugirov after grabbing him in his preparation. At one point, the Iranian was enjoying a 55-minute time advantage in a 90-minute plus 30-second increment game. 

“And also we play in this time control without the second increment, so it is very important to surprise your opponent and then he will be low on time and everything can go wrong for him,” he said.

Despite holding the lead in the qualification race for a significant part of the year, Parham now finds himself lagging in the race. However, the “never say no” attitude is still attributed to him and his playing style. “Yes, I still believed I had some chances with maybe three wins in a row, but I don’t want to think over this too much. For my age, I still have so many Candidates to play. This one will not be the last,” he said. 

The baggage of being the top seed and highest-rated player in the tournament, in addition to the pressure of qualification, has hampered Parham’s play. 

ALSO READ | Chennai Grand Masters 2023: Gukesh edges out Arjun to clinch the title, Harikrishna completes all-Indian podium

“I was nervous in the first round and lost that round because I was also risking a lot. And then I decided it was time to stop thinking about these things, and my quality improved dramatically after the first game. The first game was also fine, but the second, third, and fourth rounds were all excellent in terms of quality, and I am very pleased with my performance,” he said.

The 23-year-old opened up about his routine during the tournament. “I try to catch my opponent during the preparation. If it goes well, it goes well. Sometimes it does not go well like my game against Levon, but this is the nature of chess,” he said. 

However, Parham could not hold onto his play and lost to Arjun Erigaisi in the sixth round. He ended the tournament on a high with a win over Alexandr Predke, finishing in sixth place with 3.5 points. 

Parham came with a live rating of 2742 and went back after losing two crucial rating points. However, the Iranian would not risk taking his chances. He said after the final round, “I am not disappointed at all. I could wait and sit at home without doing anything, but I don’t want to. I want to play against strong opponents and give it my all. I played here because I wanted to use my chances to qualify for the Candidates, because when you have these chances, why not use them?”

He also went on to praise his Indian contemporaries. “I enjoy competing against Indians like Gukesh and Arjun. They are very fighting players. They also have a similar style as me. I get to play some really interesting games against them. I enjoy the atmosphere,” said Parham.

Speaking of FIDE’s refusal to rate the tournament in which Firouzja is competing. “I really like Alireza,” Parham said. “He is my countryman. I wish them all the best. What he does is very normal, and I believe that every player should try his chances somehow.” 

“I heard he also attempted to enter the London Chess Classical but was turned down. Why should he sit at home doing nothing? I believe that FIDE should establish some set rules for these tournaments beginning next year,” he concluded. 

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