Firouzja Earns Rematch vs. Carlsen, Knocks Out Wonderboy Lazavik

Firouzja Earns Rematch vs. Carlsen, Knocks Out Wonderboy Lazavik


GM Alireza Firouzja has earned a rematch vs. GM Magnus Carlsen in the Grand Final of the 2023 Julius Baer Generation Cup by winning the Losers Final vs. GM Denis Lazavik. Despite having a losing position for most of their second game, Firouzja pulled off a feat of endgame sorcery, transforming his pieces from scattered passivity to a coordinated force of nature in the final moments.  

In the Losers Semifinal, Lazavik himself stunned by defeating the favorite, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov, by using his own aggressive style against him. 

In Division II, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, victor of the Winners Final, will face GM Levon Aronian in the Grand Final after the latter successfully fought his way through three matches in the Losers Bracket.

In Division III, GM Sam Sevian defeated GM Oleksandr Bortnyk and will play GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov for first tomorrow. 

The knockout tournament concludes on Sunday, September 3, starting at 11 a.m. ET / 17:00 CEST / 20:30 IST.

See what happened

Division I

Lazavik-Abdusattorov 1.5-0.5

This match was set to be a true clash of styles. Lazavik has an uncompromising positional style that is highly mature for his 16 years of age. Contrastingly, Abdusattorov’s style, though universal, often has an aggressive dynamic bite to it.

After choosing a slow, solid opening setup, Lazavik upended expectations by suddenly throwing all of his kingside pawns up the board toward Black’s king. Abdusattorov countered dynamically, creating his own pressure in an attempt to hold back his opponent’s threats. 

Yet, Lazavik took the helm and amped up his attack with a well-timed pawn break on the kingside, challenging Abdusattorov in his own style. This incredible display of fight and versatility is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao below.

Abdusattorov is known for excelling with his back against the wall. In fact, that’s exactly how he won the day before against the current world number-two, GM Fabiano Caruana. Could the Uzbek prodigy spark another magical comeback on demand?

Abdusattorov opted for an opening choice that seemed out of tune with both his style and the match situation, playing 1.d4 and giving up his right to castle to gain center space versus Lazavik’s Nimzo Indian. 

Yet, Abdusattorov was able to imbue his style onto the board with some aggressive advances on the kingside. To shut down his opponent’s attacking chances, Lazavik compromised his pawn structure, entering an endgame with three isolated pawns. Additionally, Abdusattorov gained a clock advantage of nearly double his opposition’s time.

Then, Lazavik defended the ending with such a blend of activity, resilience, and precision that Abdusattorov was unable to drum up any real winning chances, despite all of his resourceful attempts over the next 50 moves. In fact, by the end of the game, Lazavik had achieved 99.7 percent accuracy.

Abdusattorov himself reached 99.6 percent accuracy, shockingly only enough for a draw against an in-form Lazavik. 

Firouzja-Lazavik 1.5-0.5

If Abdusattorov vs. Lazavik was a clash of styles, Firouzja vs. Lazavik was a war of them: the 20-year-old creative tactical genius vs. the teenage strategic wonderboy. 

Early in the game, Lazavik stunned again. Facing Firouzja’s Giuoco Piano Pianissimo Variation (in music terms, this means to play very softly), Lazavik chose to attack with 12…f5!?

True to his own style, Firouzja sacrificed material to counteract his opponent’s initiative. Then, surprisingly yet accurately, Firouzja traded into an exchange-down ending, correctly assessing that he could use his active rook and bishop pair to keep Black under enough pressure to prevent him from pressing his material edge for the win.

Lazavik played ambitiously with White, castling long, launching his h-pawn forward, and then ripping open the center with Firouzja’s king uncastled. The white pieces began to bear down the open files and diagonals at the black monarch. Firouzja worked overtime trying to keep his tattered position together. 

Lazavik continued to press as they traded into an endgame with Black’s pieces passive, pinned, and tied down. Yet, move by move, Firouzja began to weave his forces into better positions while inducing weaknesses in his opponent’s position. Moments later, the position became unrecognizable as the French grandmaster tore down White’s kingside and pushed his newly created passed pawn down the board. 

In the end, he performed a knight and bishop checkmate. Asked about this endgame afterward, he said: “When I saw Hikaru couldn’t mate with bishop and knight I checked again the process, so it was a good review. I felt like I should not be embarrassed like Hikaru!”

He also shared how impressed he was by his aspiring opponent: “He played really great. He was a better player today than me.”

Firouzja will have his second chance at Carlsen in the Grand Final. To win the event overall, though, he will have to defeat Carlsen twice―as the world number one still has his second life in his pocket, if needed.

With his stellar third-place performance, Lazavik leaves the knockout $15,000 richer and with 75 more tour points. 

Division I Standings

Division II

Nepomniachtchi won the Winners Final with a game to spare, defeating GM Vladislav Artemiev 2.5/3. The games were close, but ultimately Nepomniachtchi gained the upper hand, often due to his notoriously fast-playing tendencies. In game one with black, Artemiev gained a superior position by sacrificing the exchange and establishing a grip on the kingside. Yet, as the players reached the critical phase of the game, he had mere seconds while Nepomniachtchi had several minutes, allowing the Russian grandmaster to escape into an equal ending and then create powerful play on the queenside. 

Nepomniachtchi advances to the Grand Final undefeated while his opponent will be Aronian, who fought through the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, defeating GMs Evgeny Alekseev, Bassem Amin, and Artemiev today. 

Amin gave him the biggest fight, conjuring a crushing attack in game one. In a must-win game two, Aronian threw material to the wind to activate his forces and win tactically in the endgame. 

Division II Standings

Division III

Sevian defeated Bortnyk to conquer the Losers Bracket. Chaos exploded onto the board in their first game when the American grandmaster struck on the kingside and Bortnyk attempted to rebuke his attack by tactics.

Division III Standings

The Champions Chess Tour 2023 (CCT) is the biggest online tournament of the year. It is composed of six events that span the entire year and culminate in live in-person finals. With the best players in the world and a prize fund of $2,000,000, the CCT is’s most important event yet.

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