Caruana Carlsen Chess: Firouzja holds 6.5 hours against Giri and is one of the five candidates for victory | sports

The honor and the enormous talent of Alireza Firouzja have allowed him to start today an essential and agonizing draw against the Dutch Anish Giri, who, once again, has paid his excess of caution. The Spanish David Antón was the other hero of the penultimate round, drawing with the 2nd in the world, the American Fabiano Caruana. Five are up for the first prize, and none of them is the champion, Magnus Carlsen.

If there were a thermometer to measure talent, maybe Giri’s would be almost as big as Firouzja’s. But his fear of losing is much greater, and his ambition, probably far less. The Dutch also surpasses the Iranian in experience and technique (really excellent), as well as in knowledge of openings. Put such ingredients in the shaker, shake, and the resulting liquid will be a synthesis of today’s marathon fight for six hours and 22 minutes.

Giri got what he wanted from the opening, masterfully exploiting the Persian teenager’s usual impulsiveness: a position without ladies and with a small positional advantage. And he was massaging with his usual expertise, while Firouzja showed one of the several weaknesses that he still has to iron out to consolidate himself among the greatest: his tremendous intuition is not yet based on solid positional concepts, which the Dutch has to spare.

With great finesse, Giri found a winning plan. But, when he had already made all the necessary maneuvers to deliver the final blow, and had also passed control of move 40, he accused stage fright, he was scared at the approach of the most important victory of his career. He saw that if he executed his plan as planned, the Iranian still had some ways to stir the waters; computer analysis indicates that this was true, but also that Giri had won with a precise game.

So instead, Giri opted for a safer, but objectively worse continuation. He might as well have won that way, but the required accuracy was greater than before, and his neurons, also pressed by nerves, were already wearing out six hours of hard work. Firouzja, enraged when he saw that he could get out of the coffin, did find the narrow path that led him to the tie in a position of great difficulty. And that feat keeps him in the limelight to achieve another much greater: winning the most prestigious tournament on the calendar each year.

Meanwhile, he rounded off his failure with another rather bland draw, with the Pole Radoslaw Wojtaszek. The other Dutchman, Jorden Van Foreest, confirmed his enormous consistency with a high-quality fight against Russian Andrei Yesipenko, which ended in a draw, which keeps both with aspirations to the first prize, although very remote in the case of the Slav.

If there were a special prize for combativeness, today’s would have to be divided between Firouzja and Antón, who signed a high-quality draw against Caruana despite the fact that he introduced a poisonous laboratory novelty in the opening. The Spaniard will lead White against Giri this Sunday, who, in addition to the consequences of today’s upset, will face a tough psychological dilemma: playing to win with Black goes against his temperament; but it is very likely that drawing only serves to play a quick tiebreaker, and perhaps not even that.

All games between the eventual ones involved in a tie on points for first place ended in a draw. Therefore, to know which two dispute the quick duel for the first prize if there are more than two tied, it will be necessary to resort to calculating their results with the others (Sonnenborn-Berger system), which means that everything is possible from the point of view of arithmetic view. Caruana, Firouzja and Van Foreest are theoretically favorites against Tari, Wojtaszek and Grandelius. So if Antón plays like today, the uncertainty can be maximum until the last minute of the tournament.

Results (11th round): Vachier Lagrave – Doubt, tables; Harikrishna 1 – Donchenko 0; Yesipenko – Van Foreest, tables; Grandelius – Tari, tables; Caruana – Antón, tables; Giri – Firouzja, tables; Wojtaszek – Carlsen, tables.

Pairings (12th round, Friday): Carlsen – Vachier Lagrave; Firouzja – Wojtaszek; Antón – Giri; Tari – Caruana; Van Foreest – Grandelius; Donchenko – Yesipenko; Duda – Harikrishna.

Classification: 1st Giri 8 points; 2nd-4th Firouzja, Caruana and Van Foreest 7.5; 5th Yesipenko 7; 6th Carlsen 6.5; 7th-8th Grandelius and Harikrishna 6; 9th Tari 5.5; 10-11º Duda and Vachier-Lagrave 5; 12-13 Wojtaszek and Antón 4,5; 14th Donchenko 3.5.

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