Alireza Firouzja is an Iranian-French super grandmaster, the most highly rated junior chess player in the world and the best chess player in France.
Born in 2003 in Iran, Firouzja participated in his first chess tournament at the age of ten, earning an impressive rating of 1756 according to the rating system used by FIDE, the International Chess Federation. By the time he was 18, he had reached a rating of 2800—five months earlier than reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.
As a youngster getting started in chess, the game was a family affair. His brother Mohammadreza played chess at the time as well and Alireza’s family were very supportive. They provided him with a few of the best Iranian coaches at the time.
By 2016, exactly 4 years after his first game in a tournament, he managed to earn the title of International Master (IM) by winning Iran’s national championship tournament.
Two years after gaining his International Master title, he participated in a tournament called the Aeroflot open in Moscow, placing 42nd out of 92 participants which was enough to gain the title of Grandmaster at just 14 years of age.
A super grandmaster is any chess grandmaster who has over 2700 FIDE rating. The highly prestigious title comes with years of practice and competition, and requires players to compete with the best chess players in the world. But Firouzja was up to the challenge, and at age 16, became the second youngest player to achieve the rank, behind China’s Wei Yi. There are currently fewer than 40 chess super grandmasters in the world.
In 2020 he finished second place at the Altibox Norway chess tournament. “I was very close to win the whole thing,” said Firouzja. The tournament was won by World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
By the End of 2021, Alireza Firouzja has become the youngest chess player to pass 2800 rating in December. He is known to be the second best chess player and best junior chess player out of all chess players in the world currently.
But to play against all of the best players in the world Firouzja had to leave Iran. Iran has a policy that none of Iranian chess players are allowed to face any Israeli chess player. Alireza wanted to be able to compete against Israeli players as well so he immigrated to France in 2019. In 2021 he was given French citizenship and started competing under the French flag.
Now Firouzja is looking to challenge Carlsen, and the champion knows that Firouzja is up to it.
Chess Candidates tournament is the biggest tournament organized by the International Chess Federation every year in which 8 best chess professionals from all around the world compete to be able to have a chance at becoming the world grandmaster. The winner of Candidates gets to have a match against Magnus Carlsen which determines if Magnus is going to continue staying world chess master for another year or he will have a replacement.
“If someone other than Firouzja wins the candidates tournament, it is unlikely that I will play the next world championship match” Carlsen mentioned in a podcast, showing that he will only defend his title against Alireza and he does not think other participants wouldn’t be a challenge to him.
“Everybody agrees that Alireza is the most likely candidate to become a world champion of all the players who are 20 and under,” Carlsen said.
Image Credit: Wikimedia/Leonid Fleischman