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Alireza Firouzja Youngest Chess Player Ever To Break 2800
Firouzja shakes up the chess world with his recent tournament results. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Alireza Firouzja Youngest Chess Player Ever To Break 2800

AnthonyLevin
| 169 | Chess.com News

While there are currently over a thousand grandmasters in the world, only 14 players in history had crossed the 2800-rating barrier. GM Alireza Firouzja is the most recent addition to the 2800-club after scoring a sensational 8/9 at the European Team Championship.

At 18 years and five months, he is the youngest ever to do so. GM Magnus Carlsen was also 18 years old but earned the 2800 rating just barely before turning 19. With the win on Sunday, Firouzja is also the new world number-two, behind Carlsen.

Firouzja live ratings
Firouzja is now the world number two in the live ratings. Image: 2700chess.

Firouzja’s extraordinary rise to the top has been reminiscent of legends such as GM Bobby Fischer, GM Garry Kasparov, and even the current world champion. The Iranian-born and now French number-one player achieved the grandmaster title at age 14 and crossed the 2700-mark two years later. That was in 2019. After another two years, he is the world number-two and has already qualified for the next Candidates tournament after finishing first in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss. If he wins, he will qualify to play in the next world championship match.

Alireza Firouzja Chess
Firouzja wins seven out of his nine games at the European Team Championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Firouzja’s recent dominance in chess has already reached historic proportions. While it is too early to pinpoint his distinct impact, which will yet evolve, let's take a look at how he compares to other champions who amazed the world in the past.

Bobby Fischer

The American prodigy's fame skyrocketed after the "Game of the Century," which he played at the age of 13. He became the youngest U.S. champion at age 14, a grandmaster at 15, and a world champion at age 29. While Fischer's peak rating of 2785 may seem low today, we must also remember that, leading up to the Chess Championship in 1972, he was 125 points higher than the then world number-two (and world champion!), GM Boris Spassky.

Bobby Fischer Chess
Fischer shakes hands with the reigning world champion, Boris Spassky. Photo: ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy.

In his round-10 game against Boris Spassky, Fischer maneuvered positionally until his space advantage led to an initiative and an attack:

Firouzja has a similar style on the white side of the Ruy Lopez. In the following recent win in FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss 2021, notice how Firouzja follows a similar approach: gain space out of the opening, support the space with slow-building moves, play a pawn break and seize the initiative, and win the resulting endgame.

Garry Kasparov

The "Beast from Baku" was born in 1963—nine years before Fischer became champion—and has been hailed by many as the greatest of all time. He earned the grandmaster title by 1980 and became the youngest world champion ever (age 22) in 1985. Kasparov was the first player to break 2800 and also achieve a peak rating of 2851 (the highest rating of all time until Carlsen surpassed it in 2013).

Garry Kasparov Chess
Kasparov, deep in thought at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Photo: Chess.com.

Known as a ruthless attacker unafraid to sacrifice, Kasparov often jettisoned material for the initiative:

Remember that rook maneuver: Ra4-Rb4-Rxb7. Now, look at this game by Firouzja (annotations by NM Sam Copeland originally in this article):

Only time will tell what Firouzja's distinct legacy will be, but we can certainly see a parallel between his and Kasparov's play in these two games.

Magnus Carlsen

The incumbent world champion earned the GM title at age 13, crossed the 2800-threshold at 18, became the world's number one at 19 (where he has remained), and was crowned world champion at age 22.

Magnus Carlsen Chess
Carlsen at FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss in 2019. Photo: John Saunders.

Firouzja and Carlsen have battled countless times online and in over-the-board blitz but not so much in classical. While the more experienced Norwegian GM boasts a score of four wins and two draws in this time control, one of their recent games at Norway Chess 2021, in which Firouzja sacrificed a pawn to attack out of the opening, may be a preview of more to come.


World Number-Two

Firouzja has broken an impressive record set by the current world champion. He has proven himself to be a dangerous attacker, comparable to some of the greatest champions of the past. He is the second-best player in the world right now. From here, the world can only wait and see.

Alireza Firouzja Chess
Firouzja, the second-highest-rated player in the world. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
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