The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Alireza Firouzja

Alireza Firouzja
Alireza Firouzja. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Full name
Alireza Firouzja
Jun 18, 2003 (age 21)‎
Place of birth
Babol, Iran



Alireza Firouzja is an Iranian-born grandmaster who now plays for France. He is a two-time world championship candidate and two-time Iranian champion.

In late 2019 and early 2020, Firouzja electrified the chess world with his second place finish in the World Rapid Championship (one point behind World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen) and his amazing 5/7 start at the 2020 Tata Steel tournament. 

Firouzja's trajectory continued to shoot up in 2021, when he won the Riga Grand Swiss, scored 8/9 and the European Team Championships, and skyrocketed to #2 in the world rankings with a 2804 rating. His Grand Swiss victory qualified Firouzja for the 2022 Candidates Tournament at the age of 18, one of the youngest ever to achieve that feat, and Firouzja also broke the record for youngest player to surpass a 2800 rating.

Iranian Champion

Firouzja learned how to play chess at the age of eight, and within a few years, it was clear that he was a prodigy. In 2015 he won the gold medal for the under-12 section of the Asian Youth Chess Championship. In 2016 Firouzja became the youngest Iranian chess champion (at the age of 12) and also earned the International Master title.

Alireza Firouzja in 2016
Firouzja in 2016. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the following game the 12-year-old Firouzja calmly outplays the strong and experienced GM Pavel Tregubov (former European champion). After a quiet opening, Firouzja secures a positional advantage with 17. Rc5 and then converts this positional advantage to a material advantage through a small combination. Firouzja displays fantastic technique and wins a second pawn on move 37 to bring home the full point—even at age 12, Firouzja made extremely difficult tasks look easy!


In February 2018 Firouzja earned his final GM norm at the Aeroflot Open and became a grandmaster at the age of 15. At the 43rd Chess Olympiad, he played board four for Iran and scored 8/11. Firouzja won the gold medal for the World Youth Under-16 Chess Olympiad and scored 8/9 with a performance rating of 2736. 

Firouzja at 2018 Aeroflot blitz tournament
Firouzja at 2018 Aeroflot blitz tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the following game from the 2018 Chess Olympiad, Firouzja conducts a devastating attack. After he finds a wonderful tactical resource with 21.Rxh7+!, the black king has nowhere to hide. Firouzja can even make extremely difficult attacks look easy!

The World Stage

At the end of 2018, Firouzja entered the World Rapid Championship as the 169th rated player out of the 206 participants. He astonished the chess world with his sixth-place finish behind GMs Daniil Dubov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, Vladislav Artemiev, and Carlsen. He scored 10/15 with a performance rating of 2848. 
On the next day, Firouzja had a blistering 6.5/7 start in the World Blitz Championship (a full point ahead of the field)! In round eight, he lost to Carlsen, and his performance came back down to earth. At these two events, the 15-year-old GM began making his mark on the world's stage.

In the following game from the 2018 World Blitz Championship, Firouzja again displays his attacking abilities. After a relatively quiet Catalan Opening, he gives up the bishop pair to double Black's f-pawns. He conducts the attack so clearly and decisively that his opponent must resign on move 27! Another stunning game from Firouzja:

The year 2019 was an important and active one for Firouzja. He began by winning his second Iranian Championship with a score of 9/11. He continued his impressive results with a score of 7/9 at the World Team Championship and tied for first at the Sharjah Masters tournament. In April 2019 playing in the 2019 Bullet Chess Championship on, Firouzja lost a close match to Nakamura (the winner of the event).

Firouzja in 2018
Firouzja in 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In April 2019, Firouzja placed second on tiebreaks in the Reykjavik Open with a score of 7/9 and won the European Fischer Random Championship with a score of 8/9. Firouzja defeated GMs Jose Martinez Alacantara and Samuel Sevian in the Junior Speed Chess Championship hosted by before being defeated by the eventual winner GM Wei Yi. In May 2019, Firouzja won the French Rapid Championship.

In another fantastic attacking example, Firouzja employs a somewhat strange (yet memorable) exchange sacrifice in the early middlegame. He then sacrifices his knight on d5, and the kingside attack begins with 16. Nf5. Firouzja's play over the next six moves is swift and vicious, forcing resignation on move 22!

World's Youngest 2700-Rated Player

In June 2019 Firouzja's performance at the Asian Chess Championship earned him a spot in the 2019 FIDE World Cup. In July Firouzja scored 11.5/13 in the Turkish Super League. This performance raised his classical rating to 2702—making Firouzja the second-youngest player in history to achieve a 2700 rating, at the age of 16 years and 1 month. As of February 2020, he is the youngest player in the top 25, and the youngest player rated over 2700.

Firouzja played well in the 2019 FIDE World Cup. He defeated GM Arman Pashikian in the first round and Dubov in round two. In the third round, he drew both standard games with the number-one seed GM Ding Liren (the eventual World Cup runner-up) but lost in the rapid tiebreak. 

Here is a remarkable attacking win by Firouzja from the 2019 FIDE World Cup. After a quiet opening and middlegame maneuvering, Firouzja lands a knight on f5 on move 23, and the fun begins. Using the bishop pair and an exchange sacrifice, he rips open Black's kingside by move 32, and it was all over.

Nationality Change And The 2019 World Rapid and Blitz Championships

In December 2019, Firouzja informed the Iranian Chess Federation that he wanted to change nationalities. This decision came as a response to the federation's banning their players from participating in the World Rapid and World Blitz championships (done to maintain Iran's stance to avoid playing games against Israeli competition). Firouzja played in the World Rapid and Blitz championships but under the FIDE flag. He officially began playing for France in July 2021.

Firouzja in 2019
Firouzja in 2019. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Firouzja had a fantastic performance at the World Rapid Championship, scoring 10.5/15 and placing second behind Carlsen—the best result of his young career. He did not disappoint in the World Blitz Championship either, scoring 13.5/21 and placing sixth in the prestigious event.

In the 19th round of the blitz championship, Firouzja faced Carlsen, and an unusual situation occurred: Firouzja ran out of time while up three pawns. In the final position, Carlsen had only a bishop left. In an online game this would have resulted in a draw, but according to FIDE rules as long as the possibility of a checkmate is present, then the game is not a draw but a loss for the player who has run out of time.

In this controversial blitz game, Firouzja was clearly winning at multiple points. Despite the result, Firouzja outplayed the world champion in this game.


Firouzja ended 2019 with a bang and left the chess world wanting more. At the beginning of 2020, Firouzja played in the Tata Steel Chess tournament as one of 14 world-class participants (including Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Viswanathan AnandAnish Giri, Jorden Van Foreest, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Artemiev, Jeffery Xiong, Vladislav Kovalev, Yu YangiNikita Vitiugov, and Dubov). Firouzja was leading out of the gate with 2.5/3 before losing round four to So. Firouzja came back with victories over Giri in round five and Xiong in round seven.

Firouzja in 2020
Firouzja at Tata Steel 2020. Photo: Alina L'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

In Firouzja's victory over Giri in round five, the game eventually reaches a rook-and-pawn endgame after a very interesting opening. On move 40, Giri decides to exchange one of his doubled h-pawns for the passed e-pawn (trading rooks to achieve). In the resulting king-and-pawn endgame, Giri miscalculates and plays 44...Kf6? instead of 44...Kd6, and Firouzja brings home the full point!

Firouzja was setting the pace with five points after seven rounds. After a draw with Van Foreest in round eight, the chess world's eyes were fixed on the round-nine encounter between Firouzja and Carlsen. This game did not go as well for Firouzja as their previous encounter, and the result was the same—Carlsen won.

The loss to Carlsen was the first of three consecutive losses as Firouzja lost to the eventual winner, Caruana, as well as to the former world champion Anand. He drew his final two games with Vitiugov and Dubov and posted a more than respectable score of 6.5/13, tied for sixth place.

In February 2020, Firouzja entered the Prague Chess Festival's Masters tournament as a last-minute replacement for Wei Yi, who couldn't travel due to the coronavirus. Firouzja played a number of exciting games, finished in the group of players with 5/9, and the defeated GM Vidit Gujrathi in a blitz playoff to clinch the first prize. It was his first major tournament victory, and possibly the first of many to come.

In April 2020, Firouzja defeated Carlsen 8.5-7.5 in the final of the Banter Blitz Cup, a 128-player online knockout tournament with a $14,000 first prize. A month later, he won Chessbrah Invitational, a blitz tournament among six super grandmasters on The Iranian grandmaster beat Giri in a best-of-10 final.

In October 2020, Firouzja finished in second place behind Carlsen in the Norway Chess super-tournament. He only lost one game in the whole tournament, against Carlsen. Three months later, he tied for third place in January 2021 at the prestigious Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee.


In the beginning of 2021, Firouzja continued to demonstrate immense talent. On March 2021, the Iranian supergrandmaster won the 2021 Bullet Chess Championship by defeating Artemiev, tournament favorite Nakamura, and GM Andrew Tang in the final—right after winning two consecutive Titled Tuesdays.

Alireza Firouzja
Firouzja won the 2021 Bullet Chess Championship.

His progress only continued in October and November with a victory at the Riga Grand Swiss. Firouzja's outright win with a score of 8/11 earned him a spot in the 2022 Candidates. Only Carlsen and GM Bobby Fischer have played in a Candidates Tournament at a younger age—quite the company to keep. His 8/9 score at the European Team Championships right after the Grand Swiss brought his FIDE rating to 2804, making him the youngest player ever to crack the 2800 barrier.

In 2022, Firouzja continued to impress after winning the Grand Chess Tour. He did so after winning both of the tour's Saint Louis tournaments in August and September, the Rapid & Blitz and the Sinquefield Cup. The young star's victory in the Rapid & Blitz was especially convincing, as he went on a 22-game undefeated streak and gained 107 rating points, breaking the 2900 FIDE blitz rating barrier. Firouzja then won the equally strong Sinquefield Cup in tiebreaks, thus scoring the most tour points and winning the Grand Chess Tour.

Firouzja qualified for a second-straight Candidates Tournament in 2024, with the highest January 2024 rating among players who had not either already qualified or declined to participate. Unfortunately for Firouzja, he finished in seventh place. On the plus side, he was the only player to score a win against tournament victor GM Gukesh Dommaraju.

In May 2024, Firouzja won the Classic, beating Carlsen in consecutive matches in the finals, including two armageddon games. Firouzja thus guaranteed a spot in the 2024 Champions Chess Tour Finals.

The next month, in the Bullet Chess Championship (BCC), Firouzja again won consecutive finals matches, this time against Nakamura, to win the tournament. It was Firouzja's second victory in the BCC, following 2021.

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