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The Rise Of Alireza Firouzja
2023 World Chess Championship - Firouzja vs. Magnus?

The Rise Of Alireza Firouzja

Rodgy
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Alireza Firouzja has taken the chess world by storm climbing on the world ranking list from 9th to 2nd, becoming the youngest person to reach a rating of 2800, in under 30 days. The French-Iranian 18-year-old had always been predicted to be the next big thing. In fact, I predicted that this would happen back in January of 2021 in this blog!

Firouzja and Carlsen in an intense king and pawn endgame. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Norway Chess.

The current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, even stated on a podcast for Unibet, that "If someone other than Firouzja wins the Candidates Tournament, it is unlikely that I will play the next world championship match."

In this blog, we'll find out how Alireza Firouzja even reached a rating of 2800 and what would happen if he competed the world championship title against Magnus Carlsen!

The Rise of Alireza Firouzja

Firouzja in deep calculation at the European Team Championship 2021.Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Alireza Firouzja became a grandmaster at age 15, seemingly late compared to other top players such as Magnus Carlsen who became a GM at age 13, and recently Mishra Abhimanyu becoming the youngest grandmaster at age 12! He continued his journey, winning the World Youth Under-16 Chess Olympiad with a shocking score of 8/9. 

Although what was the tournament that put Firouzja under the spotlight? That would be the World Rapid & Blitz Championship. Finishing 6th out of 206 participants in the World Rapid Championship, being the 169th rated player was a complete shocker. He continued to shine in the World Blitz Championship where he was a full point ahead of the field before falling to Magnus Carlsen in the 8th round. Although being unable to win the tournament, he clearly showed that he is capable of competing with the big dogs. 

Fast-forward to 2019, in the Turkish Super League with a score of 11.5/13, Firouzja became the youngest super GM with a rating of 2702 at just age 16. Later that year, Firouzja announced that he wanted to change his nationalities. At first, Firouzja played under the FIDE flag at the 2019 World Rapid & Blitz. Although later on, he announced that he would be part of the French Chess Federation. 

Carlsen, Firouzja, and Nakamura at the World Blitz Championship Prize Ceremony. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Playing at the 2019 World Rapid & Blitz Championship, Firouzja showed up and grabbed 2nd in the Rapid Championship behind Carlsen and 6th in the Blitz Championship. Then in 2020, due to the pandemic, tournaments were limited although this didn't stop the upcoming superstar. He won his first major tournament, the Prague Chess Festival's Masters Tournament.

Firouzja upset about the arbiter suggesting for them to move to the other table. Image: Chess.com live broadcast.

Then in 2021, Firouzja started the year off at the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk ann Zee where an incident in the last round involving the arbiters telling Firouzja and his opponent, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, to move over a board so the tiebreak between Anish Giri and Jorden Van Foreest could be played. This happened in an extremely critical position while Firouzja was pushing for a win. On the next few moves, likely do to distraction from the arbiter, Alireza made a mistake thus resulting in a draw. This incident caused the tournament directors to apologize, and will be the reason why we will not see the French 18-year-old in the 2022 Tata Steel Event.

Firouzja and Caruana both clinched their spot in the 2022 Candidates Tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Then, just recently, Alireza competed at the Riga Grand Swiss, crushing the field with a score of 8/11. Not only having an amazing tournament performance and winning a huge tournament, he also qualified for the 2022 Candidates and is one of the youngest ever to do so. This wasn't enough though, because just a few weeks later, in the European Team Chess Championship. Firouzja shocked the world with a score of 8/9. Becoming the youngest player to ever join the 2800 club , and moving up to #2 in the world ahead of Ding Liren, Fabiano Caruana, and much more.

World Chess Championship 2023?

Magnus has already stated that he likely would not play in the next World Chess Championship unless his challenger's name is Alireza Firouzja. Now you might be asking, well of course it's going to happen! Firouzja is the 2nd best in the world, so he'll obviously win the Candidates Tournament! The only problem is that the 18-year-old who has never played in a Candidates Tournament will be facing players like Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Jan-Kryzysztof Duda.

Alireza Firouzja facing Magnus Carlsen in round 9 of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament. Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

Although let's pretend that Firouzja won the right to challenge Carlsen for his title. What would happen? According to my research they've played 31 games (not including non-serious games like bullet) and Firouzja scores 8 wins, 6 draws, and 17 losses. Although this may be innacurate, I think it is fair to say that Firouzja does not score great against Carlsen. 

Maybe there's a reason for this, let's take a look at their style of play. Firouzja is a barbarian and never backs down going all in with his attacking-tactical style. He plays into dubious openings hoping to gain piece activity and is not a fan of trading pieces. Maybe looking at his best game will help us understand his style of play!

Look at that attacking game! Do you understand Firouzja's style now? Now, let's take a look at Magnus's style. Perfect. Magnus is basically an engine with a crossbow waiting to strike. If you make one mistake, the slightest inaccuracy he will take advantage of it, grind it out for hours, get you tired, and then finish the job off. He's calm, composed, aggressive yet positional, and is arguably the GOAT of chess. 

So what would my prediction be if Magnus played Firouzja right now for the title? I would think it would go similar to Carlsen's match against Nepomniachtchi! Both Nepo and Firouzja are extremely emotional and express their opinion about the position in their facial expressions. I would think that Firouzja and Magnus would have many decisive results although Firouzja may get tilted after losing one game.

Will we see a repeat of the match between Magnus and Nepo? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The ideal situation would for Alireza to get an early win over Carlsen so he'd have more motivation. To add on to that, although Carlsen has more experience, I believe that Firouzja is more passionate. Carlsen said that the motivation started to dry out compared to his match against Anand. The only way he'd be more motivated if Firouzja would be his challenger. Although this means that his motivation for the match has been going down since the first world championship, could this mean Firouzja will be more hungry for the title than Magnus defending it? Let's take a look at a recent game between Firouzja and Carlsen annotated by Dejan Bojkov.

After all, Firouzja first has to win the Candidates Tournament. Maybe by 2023 we'll see a different Firouzja compared to the one today. A lot can happen in more than a year, maybe he'll pass Magnus by 2023! Congratulations to Firouzja for reaching 2800, make sure to join my fan club for updates on when I'll be posting, if you're looking to improve in chess then join this discord server, they have GM's, IM's, and people at the same level as you! I'll be posting a tournament review of the North American Open around January 8th! Happy Holidays, and I'll see you next year!

Just a 13-year-old blogger from San Diego who wants to share my knowledge and opinions on the hot topics in chess. I started playing chess at 7 and I have a peak USCF rating of 2007. Other than chess I enjoy soccer, basketball, geoguessr, cubing, and video editing. 

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