Alireza Firouzja

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Alireza Firouzja
Alireza Firouzja World Blitz Championship 2018.jpg
Firouzja in 2018
CountryFIDE[1][2] (since 2019)
Iran (until 2019)
Born18 June 2003 (2003-06-18) (age 16)
Babol, Mazandaran, Iran
TitleGrandmaster (2018)
FIDE rating2728 (March 2020)
Peak rating2728 (March 2020)
RankingNo. 21 (March 2020)

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 November 2019, Firouzja was the No. 1 ranked Iranian player[3] and the No. 1 U16 player in the world[4] with a FIDE rating of 2723. 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.

Early life[edit]

Firouzja was born on 18 June 2003 in Babol.[5] He started playing chess at the age of eight.[6] As of 2019, Firouzja and his father had left Iran and were living in France.[1]

Chess career[edit]

Firouzja won the gold medal in the U12 section at the Asian Youth Chess Championships in 2015.[7][8] 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.[9] Also in 2016, he was awarded the title International Master (IM) by FIDE.[10]


In February 2018, he participated in the Aeroflot Open. He finished 40th out of 92,[11] scoring 4½/9 points (+2−2=5),[12] earning his final norm required for the title Grandmaster (GM) in the process.[13] He was awarded the GM title by FIDE in April 2018.[14] 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.[15] At the 43rd Chess Olympiad, he played on fourth board, scoring 8/11 (+6−1=4).[16] 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).[17]

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.[18] At the World Blitz Championship, he placed 42nd out of 150 with a score of 12/21 (+10−7=4).[19] 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.[20]


Firouzja at the Grenke Chess Open, 22 April 2019

Firouzja won the Iranian Chess Championship for a second time in 2019, finishing clear first with 9/11 (+7−0=4).[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] In April, Firouzja competed in the Bullet Chess Championship, losing in the quarterfinals to the eventual winner Hikaru Nakamura.[24] 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).[25]

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.[26] He won his remaining five games to place 27th with 7/9.[27] 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 Firouzja won the match with an overall score of 18–7.[28] 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.[29][30]

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.[31] He later finished fourth in a Blitz event held in the final day of the tournament with 6½/9 pts (+6−2=1).[32]

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.[33] This made Firouzja the first Iranian to reach a rating of 2700 or above.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36]

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.[1] 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.[37][38] At the World Blitz Chess Championship held from 29 to 30 December, Firouzja placed sixth with 13½/21 (+12–6=3).[39]


Firouzja participated in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in January.[40] 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.[41] He finished with 6½/13 (+4–4=5), placing ninth.[42]

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 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.[43] 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.[44]


  1. ^ a b c "Chess: Iran's Alireza Firouzja, 16, bypasses ban on playing Israelis". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Firouzja, Alireza FIDE Chess Profile - Players Arbiters Trainers". FIDE.
  3. ^ "Federations Ranking – Iran". FIDE. May 2019.
  4. ^ FIDE Chess Profile: Firouzja, Alireza FIDE
  5. ^ Cmiel, Thorsten (12 June 2018). "Im Fokus: Alireza Firouzja" (in German). ChessBase.
  6. ^ Shah, Sagar (9 September 2018). "The story of Alireza Firouzja narrated by his father". ChessBase India. Shah: So he started playing chess at eight? Hamidreza: Yes, yes.
  7. ^ "Asian Youth Chess Championships 2015 – Winners". Chessdom. 2015-08-11.
  8. ^ "Asian Youth Chess Championship-2015 (Under-12 Open)".
  9. ^ Silver, Albert (28 January 2016). "12-year-old Alireza Firouzja is Iranian Champion". ChessBase.
  10. ^ "List of titles approved by General Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan". FIDE. 2016-09-20.
  11. ^ "Aeroflot Open 2018 A". 28 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Aeroflot Open 2018 A: Firouzja Alireza". 28 February 2018.
  13. ^ Chase, Chris (4 March 2018). "Chess notes". The Boston Globe.
  14. ^ "List of titles approved by the 2018 1st quarter PB in Minsk, Belarus". FIDE. 2018-04-09.
  15. ^ Pereira, Antonio (1 September 2018). "Asian Nations Cup 2018: Iran and China on top". ChessBase.
  16. ^ "43rd Chess Olympiad: Batumi 2018, Iran". OlimpBase.
  17. ^ Sheikhi, Marjohn (3 December 2018). "Iran's Firouzja wins gold at World Youth U-16 Chess Olympiad". Mehr News Agency.
  18. ^ "Daniil Dubov, Ju Wenjun Win World Rapid Chess Championships". 29 December 2018.
  19. ^ "King Salman World Blitz Championship 2018 Open". 30 December 2018.
  20. ^ McGourty, Colin (31 December 2018). "Carlsen & Lagno end 2018 as World Blitz Champions". Chess24.
  21. ^ Mojtabaei, Shahrokh (3 February 2019). "The strongest chess boom in Iran, ever". ChessBase.
  22. ^ Doggers, Peter (14 March 2019). "England Grabs Silver At World Team Chess Championship".
  23. ^ Inarkiev claims Sharjah Masters Chess crown. The Gulf Today.
  24. ^ Nakamura Wins Bullet Championship
  25. ^ Doggers, Peter (16 April 2019). "Lupulescu Wins Reykjavik Open Among 8-Way Tie".
  26. ^ Pai, Adiya (20 April 2019). "Grenke Open: Iranian star hands free point to Israeli". ChessBase.
  27. ^ Schulz, André (23 April 2019). "Daniel Fridman wins Grenke Open". ChessBase.
  28. ^ Doggers, Peter (22 May 2019). "Firouzja Crushes Martinez In Junior Speed Chess Match".
  29. ^ "The Week in Chess 1282". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  30. ^ "L'Iran en force au Blanc Mesnil : FIROUZJA et HEJAZIPOUR vainqueurs ! LAGARDE champion de France Rapide 2019". LeBlanc-Mesnil. 31 May 2019.
  31. ^ Le Quang Liem Wins Asian Continental Chess Championship
  32. ^ "Chess-Results Server - Asian Continental Open and Women's Championships 2019". 2019-06-15. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  33. ^ Cmiel, Thorsten (30 July 2019). "Auf dem Weg zur Weltspitze - in Etappen". ChessBase (in German).
  34. ^ "Iranian GM Alireza Firouzja makes history". Tehran Times. 28 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Iranian chess player cruises to FIDE World Cup third round for first time in history". Islamic Republic News Agency. 15 September 2019.
  36. ^ McGourty, Colin (19 September 2019). "Khanty World Cup R3 TB: Xiong knocks out Giri". Chess24.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Carlsen & Humpy win Rapids, Firouzja grabs silver
  39. ^ What happened in Carlsen vs. Firouzja?
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ "WORLD JUNIOR #1 ALIREZA FIROUZJA TO PLAY IN PRAGUE". Prague Chess Festival. 9 February 2020.
  44. ^ "Prague Masters: Firouzja wins 1st supertournament". Chess24. 21 February 2020.

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