Magnus Carlsen is in optimum form as Norway’s world champion prepares for his 14-game, $2m world title match at Dubai in November. The Oslo 30-year-old began last week’s Stavanger tournament slowly, but surged at the end with four wins in succession, including a key victory over Hungary’s Richárd Rapport who had led most of the way.

Carlsen is often his own sternest critic, but this time he was positive about his performance: “I worked really hard. Every victory I had to grind out. It wasn’t sparkling at all, but I came away with everything I could have hoped for”.

Just like the champion, the rising star Alireza Firouzja, 18, won his final four games and so reached the world top 10 on the live ratings

Firouzja’s new advance looks a pointer to the future, as several of the greatest champions, including Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Garry Kasparov and Carlsen himself reached top 10 status in their late teens. A Carlsen v Firouzja series for the global crown in around 2025 is already a plausible forecast.

The former Iranian, who now represents France, won imaginatively in the final round when a rook sacrifice, created at the board, brought him a decisive attack.

Puzzle 2437

Ding Liren v Anton Filippov, Manila 2010. White to move and win. Pieces are level, pawns are level, and Black has the threat of Kc7 followed by Bxf6 with an extra pawn. How did China’s world No3 Ding Liren force a rapid victory?

Click here for solution

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