Alexei Shirov 35

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Regular visitors are well aware of the fact that Alexei Shirov is one of our favorite players here at ChessVibes. Congratulations to Alexei, because the current number 11 in the world turned 35 today. We pay a small tribute to the man who's known for setting the chess board on fire.

Shirov was born in Riga, Latvia, on July 4th, 1972. He became world champion under 16 in 1988 and ended second at the Wch under 20 in 1990 (behind Ilya Gurevich). He achieved the GM title two years later. In 1998 Shirov ended second in Linares, only a half point behind Anatoly Karpov. An excellent achievement since this edition of the Wimbledon of chess is considered to be the strongest ever held in Linares. A few months later he played a match against Vladimir Kramnik in Cazorla, Spain, to select a challenger for world champion Garry Kasparov. Shirov won the match with 2 wins, 0 losses and 7 draws. However, unfortunately the match against Kasparov never took place. Many people still feel sorry for Alexei, who seemed to be a pawn in a political chess game these days. He was called an "amateur" by Kasparov, who, well, wasn't exactly giving a 100% to find a good sponsor. Shirov's reaction to the Kramnik-Kasparov match can be read here.

In 2000, Shirov reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship, losing to Anand. In 2002 Shirov became Spanish champion after winning the national championships in the city of Ayamonte. In 2004 he won tournaments in Sarajevo, Tallinn and L?ɬ©on. In April 2007 he won two of the three tournaments of the Festival de ajedrez Ca?ɬ±ada de Calatrava. In May-June 2007 he played two Candidates Matches in Elista, winning the first round against Michael Adams in the rapid playoff but losing his second round match against Levon Aronian. Today he starts in the 3rd Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup, a strong rapid tournament in Odessa (Ukraine) about which we will report soon.

According to British Chess Magazine and John Emms in his The Most Amazing Chess Moves of All Time, Shirov played the most spectacular move ever, in his game against Topalov, Linares 1998:

Alexei Shirov continually receives admiration of chess fans around the globe for his uncompromising, combinational and sometimes simply amazing playing style. Many compare him to the Wizzard of Riga, former world champion Mikhail Tal. Shirov's book Fire on Board from 1996 (Everyman), a game collection full of his brilliance, became an instant classic. Two years ago Fire on Board, Part 2: 1997-2004 was published by Everyman. His latest publications are Chessbase DVD's, in which he shows his best games in certain openings. By the way, if you feel like giving yourself a "Shirov birthday present" then please note that you can buy his books and DVD's today with a 10% discount at the New in Chess Shop.
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