Rising star Alireza Firouzja showed why he’s seen almost universally as the next big thing in chess today with a ruthless display against Wesley So.
The Iran-born 18-year-old was at his fearsome best in the Aimchess US Rapid as he thrashed US Champ Wesley 2.5-0.5 in the first match of the quarters.
Wesley has won two titles on this year’s Meltwater Champions Tour and is a hot tip to win the series overall.
But the American had no answer to Firouzja’s dominant play as the youngster won the first two games and then finished him off with a draw.
Firouzja’s play belied his young age and he played with confidence and maturity, calmly guiding the match to its conclusion with a game to spare.
“I think now I am getting in better shape,” he said afterwards, comparing his performance to previous Tour outings.
As always, Wesley was gracious in defeat and heaped praise on his opponent – but did say it was a “bad day” for him.
Wesley, who hinted that his hectic schedule has taken a toll on his play, will no doubt come back tomorrow for the second QF match with renewed vigour.
Meanwhile, World Champion and Tour leader Magnus Carlsen also hammered Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who knocked him out of the recent World Cup before going on to win it.
Carlsen looked bang in form as he battered Duda 2.5-0.5. The Pole now has a mountain to climb to make it into the semis.
Asked whether he had exacted revenge on Duda for the loss, Carlsen said: “No, I don’t get revenge by beating people once.”
He added: “I will need to show up tomorrow with the same kind of energy that I did today.”
In the other quarters, the in-form Vladislav Artemiev, who dominated the prelim stage, found his charge for the title halted by the Cuban-American Leinier Dominguez.
A tight match between Artemiev and Dominguez ended 2-2 leaving the pair heading for a shootout tomorrow. Artemiev maintained his unbeaten run which now extends to 19 games – but it took a last-gasp save to keep it.
Levon Aronian, playing his last tournament in Armenia, beat the Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 3-1 in a spectacular match that saw four decisive games.
Tomorrow the four quarter-final matches will reach their climax with play starting at 17:00 CEST. All games will be played in the chess24.com playzone.
Coverage with full commentary is available on www.championschesstour.com or www.chess24.com.