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Alireza Firouzja is an Iranian chess prodigy. He won the Iranian Chess Championship at the age of 12, and earned the grandmaster title at the age of 14. He is the second-youngest player ever to reach a rating of 2700 after Wei Yi, accomplishing this at the age of 16 years and 1 month. As of November 2019, Firouzja was the No. 1 ranked Iranian player and the No. 1 U16 player in the world with a FIDE rating of 2749. In December 2019, Firouzja announced that he would no longer play under the Iranian flag, after Iran withdrew its players from the 2019 World Rapid and Blitz Championship to uphold their ban against Iranians playing against Israelis. He is currently based in France and announced in early 2020 his intention to play under the French flag.
Firouzja was born on 18 June 2003 in Babol. He started playing chess at the age of eight. As of 2019, Firouzja and his father had left Iran and were living in France.
Firouzja won the gold medal in the U12 section at the Asian Youth Chess Championships in 2015. At the age of twelve, he won the 2016 Iranian Chess Championship, scoring 8/11 points +5−0=6, a full point ahead of his nearest competitors, and became the youngest ever to win the title. Also in 2016, he was awarded the title International Master IM by FIDE.
In February 2018, he participated in the Aeroflot Open. He finished 40th out of 92, scoring 4½/9 points +2−2=5, earning his final norm required for the title Grandmaster GM in the process. He was awarded the GM title by FIDE in April 2018. From 26 July to 4 August, Firouzja represented Iran at the Asian Nations Cup, held in Hamadan. Iran won all three open events, and Firouzja was the top individual performer in the classical event with 6/7. At the 43rd Chess Olympiad, he played on fourth board, scoring 8/11 +6−1=4. He won individual gold at the World Youth U16 Chess Olympiad, held from 25 November to 2 December, with a score of 8/9 points +7−0=2; 2736 PR.
At the 2018 World Rapid Championship held in Saint Petersburg, Firouzja finished sixth in a field of world-class players, behind Daniil Dubov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev and Magnus Carlsen. Starting as the 169th seed in a tournament of 206 participants, Firouzja scored 10/15 +8−3=4 and a performance rating of 2848, the second-highest in the event behind the winner Dubov. At the World Blitz Championship, he placed 42nd out of 150 with a score of 12/21 +10−7=4. He led the field by a clear point after 7 rounds with 6½/7, but his form faltered after losing to the eventual winner Carlsen in round 8.
Firouzja won the Iranian Chess Championship for a second time in 2019, finishing clear first with 9/11 +7−0=4. In March, he competed in the World Team Chess Championship with Iran. He scored 7/9 points +6−1=2 as Iran placed sixth out of ten. Later in March, he participated in the 3rd Sharjah Masters. He tied for 1st–7th on 7/9 +5−0=4, placing fourth on tiebreak. Ernesto Inarkiev won the event. In April, Firouzja competed in the Chess.com Bullet Chess Championship, losing in the quarterfinals to the eventual winner Hikaru Nakamura. Later in April, Firouzja placed second on tiebreak behind Constantin Lupulescu in the Reykjavik Open with 7/9 +6−1=2. During the event's rest day, he won the European Fischer Random Championship with 8/9 +7−0=2.
Firouzja competed in the Grenke Chess Open, held from 18 to 22 April. He won his first two games but refused to play against the Israeli FIDE Master Or Bronstein in the third round, thus forfeiting the game. This was in line with Iranian government policy, as Iran does not recognise the state of Israel and sanctions players who compete against Israelis. Firouzja then lost in the fourth round to 1945-rated Antonia Ziegenfuss. He won his remaining five games to place 27th with 7/9. In May, Firouzja faced Peruvian grandmaster José Martinez-Alcantara in round one of the 2019 Junior Speed Chess Championship, an online blitz and bullet competition hosted by Chess.com. Firouzja won the match with an overall score of 18–7. Later in May, he competed in the French Rapid and Blitz Championships, held in Le Blanc-Mesnil. He won the rapid event by defeating Alberto David in the final.
In June, Firouzja took part in the 18th edition of the Asian Chess Championship, held from 6 to 16 June in Xingtai. He finished the tournament in sixth place with 6/9 points +5−2=2. Though only the top five were set to qualify for the Chess World Cup 2019, Firouzja narrowly qualified for a spot in the World Cup as 1st-placed Le Quang Liem and 5th-placed Rinat Jumabayev had already qualified in previous events. He later finished fourth in a Blitz event held in the final day of the tournament with 6½/9 pts +6−2=1.
Firouzja represented Tatvan in the Turkish Super League from 17 to 28 July. He scored 11½/13 +10–0=3, thus increasing his rating to 2702. This made Firouzja the first Iranian to reach a rating of 2700 or above. It also makes him currently the youngest super grandmaster in the world.
At the FIDE World Cup in September, Firouzja defeated Arman Pashikian and Daniil Dubov in rounds one and two, respectively. This made Firouzja the first Iranian player to reach the third round of a Chess World Cup. In round three, he faced the number-one seed Ding Liren. Firouzja drew with Ding in the two classical games, but lost both of the rapid tiebreakers and was eliminated from the tournament.
On 27 December, Firouzja announced that he would no longer play under the Iran chess federation, after Iran withdrew its players from the 2019 World Rapid and Blitz Championship to uphold their ban against Iranians playing against Israelis. He instead competed as a FIDE-licensed competitor. Firouzja competed in the World Rapid Chess Championship from 26 to 28 December. He finished the tournament as runner-up with 10½/15 +8–2=5, one point short of the winner Carlsen. He is the first-ever Iranian-born grandmaster to be able to go on a podium in the history of this competition. At the World Blitz Chess Championship held from 29 to 30 December, Firouzja placed sixth with 13½/21 +12–6=3.
Firouzja participated in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in January. He became the first Iranian to compete in the Masters' bracket of the tournament; Parham Maghsoodloo had previously competed in the 2019 Tata Steel Challengers. This was the first time that Firouzja faced the world elite in a classical round-robin tournament, and he said in an interview that his expectations were not oriented towards winning the event, but gaining more experience at the top level. He finished with 6½/13 +4–4=5, placing ninth.
In February, Firouzja competed in the Masters section of the Prague International Chess Festival, a 10-player category XIX round-robin event, as a late replacement for Wei Yi, who could not attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tie for first–fifth on 5/9, Firouzja won the tournament following a 2–0 tiebreak victory over Vidit Gujrathi, thus improving on his previous result at TATA Steel and becoming one of the youngest players to ever attain a supertournament victory.
On 15 April, Firouzja faced Magnus Carlsen in the final of the Chess24 Banter Blitz Cup and won 8½–7½. Firouzja then competed in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, a rapid tournament held by Chess24 from 18 April to 3 May, along with Carlsen and six other top players. Carlsen defeated Firouzja in their match by a score of 2½–1½. Firouzja placed sixth overall, and did not advance to the four-way playoff.
In October, Firouzja participated in the annual Norway Chess supertournament held in Stavanger. Participants in the tournament included World Champion Magnus Carlsen, world number 2 Fabiano Caruana, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Levon Aronian and Norwegian player Aryan Tari. Like in the previous edition, the tournament was held with a football scoring system 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. In case of a draw, games were decided in an armageddon playoff where a victory would provide an additional 1/2 point.
Firouzja finished with 2nd place 18.5, 1 point behind Carlsen 19.5 and ahead of Aronian, Caruana and Duda.By the standard scoring method, Firouzja's score of 4 victories, 1 loss and 5 draws would have been enough to tie for 1st place, but Carlsen's extra points from wins in the armageddon segment relegated Firouzja to second place. His TPR for the event was 2880.
Iranian Chess Championship (2016)
International Master (2016)
Iranian Chess Championship (2019).
Work & Publications
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