A Tense Titled Arena and a Titillating Twist
Yesterday's Titled Arena got off to a quick start, and to no-one's great surprise Magnus Carlsen (@DrNykterstein) took an early lead, stringing together 13 wins - maybe this is what happens when you forsake 1. g4? Also with a strong start was GM Daniel Naroditsky (@RebeccaHarris), with 11/11. The anticipated meeting of the two leaders was a very surprising King's Gambit - a theme to continue throughout the tournament for this pairing. The second of their pairings lead to the impressive victory including 14. Kxe4. However, their first result was a draw, extinguishing both leaders' fire and giving the rest of the field a chance to catch up. After the first 30 minutes, Carlsen was out in front, followed by Naroditsky and the 16 year old Iranian GM Alireza Firouzja (@alireza2003).
A notable absentee this TA was GM Andrew Tang (@penguingim1) who was playing in the US Junior Championships (you can follow his progress and see his games here and in upcoming Lichess broadcasts). However, the "juniors" were still out in force, not only with Alireza, but GM Nihal Sarin too (@nihalsarin2004). He also faced Magnus's King's Gambit - but came out victorious; a nice birthday present for the now 15-year-old. Again, Magnus's fire was extinguished and this gave a brief moment in first place for Alireza. The lead was quickly regained by Magnus though and an hour in we had an all-GM top 5: Carlsen, Firouzja, Bortnyk (@Night-King96), Naroditsky and @caching.
We're always blown away by the super-fast tactics and crazy positions in these arenas - but it's not all fancy. IM Eric Rosen (@EricRosen) had a nice sample of his usual educational content with some speedy bridge building in a Lucena position - who says bullet doesn't teach you anything?
With 30 minutes to go, it seemed that Magnus had found his groove, leading with 122 points to Narotisky's 108 and maybe pulling away - even after being pegged back by Dutch compatriot IMs Thomas Beerdsen (@MeneerMandje) and Vincent Rothuis (@opperwezen). From 1 hour to 30 minutes to go, Magnus was second in the scoring (with 41 points) and Naroditsky was highest scoring (42 points). In the last 30 minutes though, Alireza shot up the rankings to within 6 points of Magnus, and the pairing we were waiting for happened:
It looked like Carlsen would take the win and roll home to victory - but with just over 5 seconds each on the clock a rare miscalculation lead to a critical victory for the young Iranian - just two points behind now. Could he do it?
We won't keep you in suspense, dear readers, he could do it! With a win on time in a losing position against @opperwezen, Alireza gathered up the points he needed to take first place and win the July '19 Titled Arena! Congratulations to him for a first win, and congratulations to all the winners:
As always, great thanks to all the participants, viewers and streamers who make the event so much fun for us all. Another Titled Arena will be scheduled soon, stay tuned to our standard communication channels for details: