Alexei Dmitrievich Shirov (Russian: Алексей Дмитриевич Широв, Latvian: Aleksejs Širovs; born July 4, 1972) is a Latvian-born Spanish chess grandmaster. He has consistently ranked among the world's top players since the early 1990s, and reached a ranking as high as number four in 1998. Shirov is also a well-regarded chess author.
Shirov became the World Champion (under 16) in 1988, the World Under-20 Vice-Champion in 1990 (second on tiebreaks to Ilya Gurevich), and achieved the title of Grandmaster in 1990. Shirov is the winner of numerous international tournaments: Biel 1991, Madrid 1997 (shared first place with Veselin Topalov), Ter Apel 1997, Monte Carlo 1998, Mérida 2000, two time winner of the Paul Keres Memorial International Chess Tournament in Tallinn, Estonia, with victories in 2004 and 2005 just to name a few. He won the 2005 Canadian Open Chess Championship.
In 1998 Shirov's ranking rose to number four in the world. On the basis of his rating, he was invited to play a ten game match against Vladimir Kramnik to select a challenger for World Champion Garry Kasparov. Shirov won the match with two wins, no losses and seven draws. However the plans for the Kasparov match fell through when sufficient financial backing could not be found. When Kasparov instead played Kramnik for the world title in 2000, Shirov maintained that the match was invalid and he was the rightful challenger.
In 2000, Shirov reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship, losing to Viswanathan Anand.
In May-June 2007 he played in the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Chess Championship 2007. He won his first round match against Michael Adams (+1-1=4, won in rapid playoff), but was eliminated when he lost his second round match to Levon Aronian (+0-1=5).
In November-December 2007 Shirov played in the Chess World Cup 2007. He made the final, but lost the final 2.5-1.5 to Gata Kamsky.
In May 2009, Alexei Shirov achieved one of the greatest triumphs of his career by placing 1st in the Category 21 M-Tel Masters 2009 tournament, a double round tournament held in Sofia, Bulgaria. He went undefeated while scoring 6.5/10—seven draws and three victories, two against Vassily Ivanchuk and the other against Magnus Carlsen in the final round. By coming in 1st at M-Tel 2009, he was also given the opportunity to play in the Grand Slam Chess Final 2009 in Bilbao where he will meet Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin (winner of Corus 2009), and Alexander Grischuk (winner of Linares 2009). After his performance at M-Tel 2009, Shirov was ranked #5 in the world with a virtual Elo rating of 2763.9, his highest rating ever.
In September 2010, Shirov participated in the Grand Slam Chess Masters preliminary tournament in Shanghai from September 3rd to 8th, where he faced world #4 Levon Aronian, world #5 Vladimir Kramnik, and Wang Hao; the top two scorers qualified for the Grand Slam final supertournament from October 9th to 15th in Bilbao against world #1 Magnus Carlsen and world champion Viswanathan Anand. After drawing his first two games, Shirov then won three consecutive games, including his first victory over Kramnik since 2003. Finishing with 4.5/6, Shirov won the tournament, qualifying along with Kramnik for the Grand Slam final.
In 1994 Shirov married an Argentine, Verónica Alvarez, moved to Tarragona, and became a citizen of Spain. Although he still plays for Spain, he currently resides in Latvia. He was married to Lithuanian GM Viktorija Čmilytė from 2001 to 2008.Shortly before the Bilbao 2010 tournament, Shirov got married for a third time to a woman named Olga.
Shirov is noted for his attacking style and for seeking complications, a tendency which has led to comparisons with fellow Latvian and former world champion, Mikhail Tal, under whom he studied in his youth.