Seventeen-year-old Alireza Firouzja picked up another 1.5 points at Norway Chess on Monday, knocking off Levon Aronian in an Armageddon game after they drew their classical encounter.

Norway Chess odds Firouzja Carlsen
Alireza Firouzja (left) defeated Levon Aronian (right) in an Armageddon tiebreaker in Round 7 to maintain his lead at Norway Chess. (Image: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess)

The result kept Firouzja on top of the Norway Chess standings with 14.5 points, one point ahead of Magnus Carlsen.

Last Time on Chess Bets: Targeting Tari Still Profitable

  • The Bet: Jan-Krzysztof Duda (+160) to beat Aryan Tari
  • The Result: Duda wins (+$160)
  • Overall: +$691

Aryan Tari is finding it difficult to keep his head above water at Norway Chess. It’s hard to blame the 21-year-old. The 2017 World Junior Chess Champion and 2019 Norwegian champion is ranked just 133rd in the world. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it puts him at a severe disadvantage when competing against five of the top-20 players on the rating list. Add the Norwegian television coverage, and Tari deserves to feel nervous.

That makes this tournament more of a learning experience for Tari. It has also allowed us to make a lot of money betting against the youngster as he lost yet again with Black, this time to Jan-Krzysztof Duda. We’ve hit four of our six individual game bets so far, and three of those wins have come betting against Tari.

Norway Chess Odds – Round 8 (via Unibet)
Levon Aronian: +200 Draw: -167 Jan-Krzysztof Duda: +800
Magnus Carlsen: -400 Draw: +350 Aryan Tari: +2000
Fabiano Caruana: +225 Draw: -182 Alireza Firouzja: +750

I don’t think we’ll be leaning that way for Round 8, however. Carlsen deserves to be a huge favorite over Tari, but -400 is too much to pay to back even the World Champion with White against a strong grandmaster. While he should win most of those games, I’m not convinced he gets there more than the 80% of the time we’d need to turn a profit.

Firouzja Leads Norway Chess, Oddsmakers Don’t Seem to Notice

Let’s talk some more about Firouzja’s performance so far. In Round 7, he drew Aronian, then won when the Armenian ran out of time yet again in an Armageddon game. Aronian again seemed perturbed by the one-second increment in the tiebreak games, though as I’ve discussed before, organizers only shortened the planned three-second increment because players asked them to do so.

“I think once you lose on time one game then you understand what is one second,” Firouzja said after the round. “You should just press the clock. He was not concentrated on the clock, I think!”

The results leave Firouzja in first, with Carlsen close behind. Aronian remains within a game at 12 points, while Caruana needs a big finish to stay in contention on 11 points.

It’s starting to look like Firouzja could actually win Norway Chess. Only three rounds remain, and the prodigy will take White in his second game against Carlsen in Round 9. Bizarrely, however, oddsmakers are giving Firouzja little respect. Unibet is still offering +600 – yes, that’s six-to-one – on Firouzja winning the tournament.

I’m sure the oddsmakers expect Carlsen to wipe the floor with Tari tomorrow. But even a Carlsen win would hardly set the final standings in stone. So while it feels like a cop-out to hedge yet again, I’m recommending an outright wager on Firouzja over bets on any of the individual games in Round 8. If bookmakers want to offer us such generous odds, who am I to turn them down?

The Pick: Alireza Firouzja (+600) to win Norway Chess