5Things We Learned — Chess.com Classic 2024 (2024)

GMAlireza Firouzjajust won Division I of theChampions Chess Tour Chess.com Classic 2024on Wednesday, while GMMaxime Vachier-Lagravetook Division II andGMDmitry AndreikinDivision III.

It's not often we see GMMagnus Carlsenlose even a game of chess, let alone two matches to release his hold on Division I. Let's unpack what happened over the last eight days in the online tournament, the second event of the yearlong Champions Chess Tour.

  1. Carlsen Is Human, Maybe?
  2. Firouzja Silences His Critics
  3. The Best Of Times And The Worst Of Times For Caruana
  4. Playing OTB Doesn't Seem To Hurt
  5. Ivic, Wesley So Show Their Teeth In CCT

1. Carlsen Is Human, Maybe?

Carlsen wasn't pleased with the Grand Final, of course, and even said, "I played like an a** from the beginning." The truth is that even on a bad day, Carlsen is still a tremendous force in the chess world.

Carlsen actually hadn't lost a single game in the first seven days of the tournament, as he dominated the Winners Bracket—and his first loss only came in game four of the Grand Final against Firouzja, after a blunder in a winning position. This was the beginning of the downward spiral that ultimately lost the match:

But, until this one rainy day, Carlsen was on fire for months. Actually, it wasduringthis tournament that Carlsen won theover the board anddefeated every other player in the tournamentin a row—again. It was seven consecutive tournament victories, and his almost-eighth in the Chess.com Classic barely eluded him. His latest tournament wins were the following:

  • 2024 GCT: Superbet Rapid & Blitz Champion
  • 2024 Grenke Chess Classic Champion
  • 2024 Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge Champion
  • 2024 Chessable Masters Champion
  • 2023 World Blitz Champion
  • 2023 World Rapid Champion
  • 2023 CCT Finals Champion

You'll notice that the above tournaments (except for the Freestyle G.O.A.T. Challenge) are all rapid/blitz events. Carlsen's last classical tournament was theEuropean Team Chess Championship 2023, which took place last November. While he's still the world number-one by rating, are his rivals catching up?

2. Firouzja Silences His Critics

After he took the chess world by storm in 2020 and 2021, many predicted Firouzja to be one of the prominent contenders for the world champion title. In fact, Carlsen himself wanted the then-teenager to win the Candidates Tournament so they could play a match, but GMIan Nepomniachtchidominated that tournament instead.

In the last Candidates Tournament, Firouzja finished a half-point above last-place GMNijat Abasov, and his harshest critics already claimed he was down and out or, more colloquially, "washed up." This tournament victory was a statement, and so was his tweet right after:

It was a fantastic run for Firouzja, who lost in the very first round of Division I against GMJan-Krzysztof Duda. He then clambered up through the Losers Bracket, convincingly winning every match, to make it to the Grand Final—and then he beat Carlsentwiceto win the tournament.

Firouzja's Run To The Grand Final

5Things We Learned — Chess.com Classic 2024 (1)

Like the former world champion, he looks forward to a challenge. Firouzja said, "If, for instance, it was not Magnus [in the Grand Final] and I would win, it's like not a real challenge, so it makes it much more special."

If, for instance, it was not Magnus and I would win, it's like not a real challenge...

—Alireza Firouzja

We will see him atNorway Chess 2024at the end of May, along with other top players: Carlsen, GMFabiano Caruana, GMHikaru Nakamura, World ChampionDing Liren, and GMPraggnanandhaa Rameshbabu(the latter three did not participate in this CCT event).

3. The Best Of Times And The Worst Of Times For Caruana

The first day looked like the beginning of a resurrection for Caruana. In the last CCT Play-in, he scored 3.5/8 and withdrew before the last round, not even making it to Division III. This time around, he was clear first in the Play-in after the nine rounds.

Play-in Final Standings

5Things We Learned — Chess.com Classic 2024 (2)(You can see thefull standings here.)

Unfortunately for the U.S. champion and world number two, the celebrations kind of ended there. It speaks less to his merit as a chess player as it does to the difficulty of the tournament. For example, the Losers Bracket in Division II saw two 2024 Candidates participants get knocked out, with GMVidit Gujrathibeing the other one.

The lineup of the Division II Losers Bracket would make for a ridiculously strong tournament of its own, with half the field comprising of world top-20 players.

Round 1 of Division II Losers

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Caruana was knocked out of the Winners Bracket by GMAram Hakobyanand then eliminated in round two of the Losers by GM
Andrey Esipenko. Caruana hasn't made it to Division I this year yet and isn't on the top 20 of the tour standings leaderboard. He has two events left to fight for a spot in the end-of-year Finals.

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4. Playing OTB Doesn't Seem To Hurt

We often see grandmasters juggling over-the-board tournaments with online ones, but we don't often see so many of the world's top 10 doing it. The first event of the Grand Chess Tour kicked off on the same day as the CCT, and Carlsen won it right before he got back to his hotel room to beat GMVincent Keymer, whom he'd just beaten in person, 2.5-1.5 in the Winners Final.

Polish number one Duda was the other player in Division I who sandwiched the CCT between a handful of rapid and blitz games in person. While it would have been reasonable to think that such a packed schedule would tire the players out, all three of them actually did quite well.

Carlsen finished in second, so he'll be in Division I of the next event, but the other two placed in Division I Placement thanks to their performance. Keymer finished third (after losing to only Carlsen and Firouzja), and Duda finished fourth (losing to Keymer and then Firouzja).

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5. Ivic, Wesley So Show Their Teeth In CCT

We can call Firouzja's victory against Carlsen an underdog story, especially considering he had to win two matches. But the most successful underdog of the event was GMVelimir Ivic. In Division I Placement, on the second day, he was arm's length from elimination when Vachier-Lagrave mouse-slipped an entire rook and resigned.

After a lucky save, the Serbian number four started to play like an absolute boss. He struck back in the next game and sent the French number-two to Division II (where he'd ultimately win the tournament).

His next victim was Caruana, who kissed Division I goodbye after suffering two losses with the white pieces—a shocking result for one of the world's best-prepared players.

The Cinderella story lasted only so long, as Ivic then played Carlsen on the first day of Division I, who knocked him down to the Losers with 2.5-1.5. Nepomniachtchi finished him off with a 2-0 sweep in the Losers. Still, the $7,500 that comes with finishing in last place is still more than a player can earn for winning most open tournaments over the board—and the run was an incredible achievement for Ivic.

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The double-elimination format seems to bring out the best in some players, especially those who can make the most of their two lives. While not an underdog, GM Wesley So defied the odds like Firouzja. After losing his first match, he crawled back to the Grand Final by winning every match in the Losers Bracket. He even beat Vachier-Lagrave in the first Grand Final match, but then he was swept 2-0 in the second.

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So took home $10,000 and is still number seven on the leaderboard, which is a remarkable finish after losing on the first day of Division Play.

What was your biggest takeaway from the Chess.com Classic? Let us know in the comments below!

How to review?
You can rewatch the2024 Chess.com ClassiconChess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on ourTwitch channeland catch all our live broadcasts onYouTube.com. Games from the event can be viewed on ourevents page.

The live broadcast of the final day was hosted by GMDaniel Naroditskyand IMTania Sachdev.

5Things We Learned — Chess.com Classic 2024 (2024)


Who is in the 5th round of candidates tournament 2024? ›

Chess Candidates 2024, Round 5 Highlights: Gukesh beats Abasov; Pragg holds Nepomniachtchi; Vidit draws with Caruana; Humpy, Vaishali games end in draw.

Who will win the chess candidates in 2024? ›

The tournament took place at The Great Hall in Toronto, Canada, from April 3–22, 2024. The event was held alongside the Women's Candidates Tournament. The event was won by Gukesh D, which made him the youngest ever winner of a Candidates Tournament, and the youngest ever World Chess Championship challenger.

Why is Magnus Carlsen not playing candidates? ›

Carlsen, a five-time World Champion in the classical format, forfeited his qualification spot citing the lack of motivation in playing the longer version of the game in the existing tournament structure. “I would say the main reason is that I don't enjoy it. It's as simple as that.”

Who won the American Cup in chess in 2024? ›

Levon Aronian emerged victorious at the 2024 edition of the American Cup after beating Wesley So in the final. After three draws in two classical and one rapid game in the open section, it all came down to the last rapid game in which Wesley So had white.

What is the age of Gukesh? ›

The 17-year-old secured a win at the Candidates tournament after 14 rounds of matches that extended over three weeks. He now has the opportunity to contest for the World Championship. Gukesh has also become the youngest chess player with this distinction.

Who is the 17-year-old chess champion? ›

India unveils Chennai's 17-year-old Gukesh as its youngest challenger in chess history. Gukesh Dommaraju has become the youngest challenger for the World chess title, breaking the 40-year-old record set by legendary Garry Kasparov in 1984.

Who is the youngest player to win candidates? ›

Synopsis. D Gukesh, at just 17, has made history by winning the FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament 2024, becoming the youngest player ever to reach the final of the World Chess Championship. His victory, secured with a draw against Hikaru Nakamura, marks a significant milestone in Indian chess history.

Who was the youngest chess world champion? ›

Kasparov was the youngest world chess champion (at 22 years of age), and he is also known for his matches against a computer known as Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997.

Is Magnus Carlsen an attacking player? ›

Known for his attacking style as a teenager, Carlsen has since developed into a universal player. He uses a variety of openings to make it harder for opponents to prepare against him and reduce the utility of pre-game computer analysis.

Who is most likely to win candidates in chess? ›

Note: Stats are based on players' official March 2024 ratings.
  • Fabiano Caruana (36%)
  • Hikaru Nakamura (25%)
  • Alireza Firouzja (11%)
  • Ian Nepomniachtchi (10%)
  • Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (8%)
  • Gukesh Dommaraju (7%)
  • Vidit Gujrathi (4%)
  • Nijat Abasov (<1%)
Mar 29, 2024

How long does a classical chess game last? ›

For much of the 20th century, a classical game would usually give each player two hours to make 40 moves, and more time after 40. In 2023, players rarely get more than 90 minutes each for the first 40 moves.

Who is the best chess player in the world 2024? ›

GM Magnus Carlsen

Did Bobby Fischer win? ›

His youthful intemperance and brilliant playing drew the attention of the American public to the game of chess, particularly when he won the world championship in 1972. His precocious skills inspired the Academy Award-nominated movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993). Born: March 9, 1943, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Who won the 1975 World Chess Championship? ›

Anatoly Karpov became World Champion after Fischer refused to defend his title. He was world champion from 1975 to 1985, and FIDE World Champion from 1993 to 1999 when the world title was split.

How many rounds are in Fide candidates 2024? ›


The winner of this 8-player double round-robin (all-play-all twice) becomes the Challenger for the chess crown. In case of a tie for first place after 14 rounds, the playoff determines the winner.

Who is playing in the Candidates Tournament in 2024? ›

FIDE Candidates Tournament (Open):
  • Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura, Gukesh (7.5)
  • Caruana (7)
  • Praggnanandhaa (6)
  • Vidit (5)
  • Firouzja (4.5)
  • Abasov (3)
Apr 19, 2024

How do you qualify for the FIDE candidates 2024? ›

Eight players shall qualify for FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 by the following criteria: Path A. 1 spot – FIDE World Championship Match 2023, Runner‐up (Ian Nepomniachtchi or Ding Liren)* Path B. 3 spots – FIDE World Cup 2023 (Baku 2023), three players who finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

How did Ding Liren qualify for the World Championship? ›

As the runner-up of the Candidates, Ding qualified to play in the 2023 World Chess Championship against Ian Nepomniachtchi, following Carlsen's withdrawal from the Title.

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