Alireza Firouzja (Persian: علیرضا فیروزجا, Persian pronunciation: [æliːɾezɑː fiːɾuːzˈdʒɑː]; born 18 June 2003) is an Iranian chess prodigy. He won the Iranian Chess Championship at age 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 aged 16 years and 1 month. As of August 2019[update], Firouzja is the No. 1 ranked Iranian player and the No. 1 U16 player in the world, with a FIDE rating of 2702.
Firouzja in 2018
|Born||18 June 2003 (age 16)|
|FIDE rating||2702 (September 2019)|
|Peak rating||2702 (August 2019)|
|Ranking||No. 37 (September 2019)|
Firouzja won the gold medal in the U12 section at the Asian Youth Chess Championships in 2015. He won the Iranian Chess Championship in 2016. He scored 8/11 points (+5−0=6), a full point ahead of his nearest competitors, and at age 12 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 ).
At the 2018 World Rapid Championship held in Saint Petersburg, Firouzja finished sixth in a field of world-class players, behind only 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 2019, held from 6 to 16 June in Xingtai. He finished the tournament in a tied 6th place with 6/9 points (+5−2=2). Though the tournament would only see the top 5 qualify for the Chess World Cup 2019, he narrowly qualified for as 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 4th 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.
Firouzja participated in the FIDE World Cup in September. He 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.
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Shah: So he started playing chess at eight? Hamidreza: Yes, yes.
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