Written by: Emadeldin Teama
Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja is an Iranian chess prodigy. He grabbed the attention of the chess world at a very young age when he won the Asian youth chess championship Under 12 years old in 2005. His aggressive and clear style reminded many players of the legend Bobby Fischer!. He then followed up winning the Iranian chess championship at the age of 12. Ali then kept improving his chess and proving himself one tournament after the other till he was able to achieve the grand master title at the age of 14 which is a phenomenal achievement. Later he became the second youngest in the world to achiever rating 2700 at the age of 16 years and one month. This rapid development that Firouzja achieved is really impressive. in this article we are going to find out more about Firouzja struggle to achieve a peaceful life off the board in addition to his struggle to be one of the best players in the world!, we are also going to check some of his games with the world champion Magnus Carlsen.
In 2019,Firouzja moved with his father to France to a small city close to Paris. It was a big step for him to move to Europe. However, it was in the right direction for his career and life. There is a lot of strong chess tournaments in Europe much more than Asia.in addition to that, he escaped the political complications that forced him in one of his games to forfeit and not attend against some other players due to pressure from his home country. He was so angry because he needed every chance to prove his skill over his opponents. He then forfeited playing under Iran flag and continued to play under fide flag for some time once he moved to France. He applied for the French nationality afterwards and started playing under French flag in July 2021.
During Firouzja’s chess career he face Carlsen few times. Carlsen has a huge plus in the classical games against Firouzja with a score 3 to 0 to Carlsen in addition to one draw. However, Firouzja is still young and he is doing a constant development in his chess skill!
We are going to show how much GM Firouzja developed in the last years starting with a game he played against Carlsen in 2018 blitz world championship.Carlsen had the white pieces and Firouzja had the black pieces. The game started as an English opening.Carlsen knew he is playing a young talented guy. He must avoid main opening where Firouzja would have them committed to memory very well and deep. He wanted to play a position where he would simply outplay Firouzja with his great experience and outstanding strategic play.
“Alireza Firouzja - Magnus Carlsen”
1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nc3 0–0 5.Nf3 d6 6.d4 Nc6 7.0–0 a standard position for queen pawn games. White simply develops, controls the center, castles and then later he will try to pressure the queenside if possible. In these positions, white is aiming for a long strategic fight rather than a tactical quick game. He simply would grind down Firouzja with positional play
7-..e5 making a conflict in the center of the board to create tension.
8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Qa4 Qb8 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 a strategic and risky decision. White gives up the two bishops in an open game, however when he eliminate the knight. He reduces black center control over d5 square and prepares his queenside play!
12.Nd2 Bg7 13.Rfd1 Rd8 14.Nb3 the start of the queenside pressure! 14…Nd4 15.Nc5 c6 16.e3 kicking black most active piece off the center of the board and almost forcing black to lose two pieces for a rook and a pawn. Theoretically it should be a fair trade for black , however two pieces for a rook in blitz game is simply too much to handle!
16..Bg4 17.exd4 exd4 18.N3e4 Bxd1 19.Rxd1 Qc7 20.Qb3 b6 21.Nd3 Rab8 22.c5 another fine move from the world champion Carlsen. Creating weak squares on the queen side, double pawns and free squares for his pieces!
22..bxc5 23.Qc4 Qa5 24.Nexc5 Bf8 25.b4 Qa3 loses on the spot. The queen is far away from the action, black had to exchange queens here with Qb5. The next move simply end the game
26.Ne5 Qxb4 27.Qxf7+ Kh8 28.Qf6+ Bg7 29.Qg5? Time trouble for both players. Carlsen missed the simple Nf7+ followed by Qe6 winning everything with discovered attacks!
However, Carlsen is still winning here simply he played the following moves ending the game.
29…Re8 30.Nxc6 Qc4 31.Nxb8 Qe2 32.Qd2 1–0 forcing the exchange of queens and making white a full piece up. Firouzja resigned
Here is a link to the game on Lichess :
A couple of years later, this time we will see how far has Firouzja grown and how difficult it is now for Carlsen or any top grandmaster to win against him!
Our next game is a recent one played at the end of May 2021 few days before his 18th birthday!
In this game we can see clearly that Firouzja has developed his playing style so much.
“Alireza Firouzja (2759) - Magnus Carlsen (2847)”
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 white chooses a less played line that is actually sound. He gives up the two bishop advantage to give black a slightly worse pawn structure.
6.Nbd2 Nd7 7.Nc4 f6 8.c3 Nb6 9.Na5 that wasn’t played before! The idea is simple and clear. White wants to keep black undeveloped by constantly attacking the b7 pawn. Black light square bishop is not able to develop easily and he will need to lose a couple of tempos to finish his pieces development!
10…0–0 10.0–0 Rb8 11.b4 Bd6 12.Be3 Be6 13.Nd2 Qd7 14.Qc2 Nc8 15.a3 b6 16.Nab3 Ne7 17.f4 exf4 18.Bxf4 Ng6 19.Bxd6 cxd6 20.Nd4 d5 21.Rae1 Rfe8 22.Qd1 Rbd8 23.Qf3 dxe4 24.Nxe4 very aggressive looking position, black is not having any issues, however it is not fun to have these two centralized knights against you
Bd5 25.Nf5 Bxe4 a wise choice by Carlsen that completely equalize the game 26.Rxe4 Rxe4 27.Qxe4 Qxd3 28.Qxc6 Qd7 29.Qc4+ Kh8 30.h4 Ne5 31.Qf4 Qf7 32.h5! The pawn cannot be taken. If black gets greedy and plays the natural Qxh5 he gets his kingside destroyed by Nxg7!
If Kxg7?? Forced checkmate Qxf6 Kg8 Qxd8+ Kg7 Qf8+ followed by Qf6 checkmate
32.. h6 carlsen has to accept the dangerous position around his king and find a draw here
33.Nxh6 Qxh5 34.Nf5 Qg4 35.Qh2+ Kg8 36.Ne7+ Kf7 37.Qxe5 Rd2 38.Qh2 Kxe7 39.Qc7+ Qd7 40.Re1+ Kf7 41.Qc4+ Qd5 42.Qc7+ Qd7 43.Qc4+ Qd5 44.Qc7+ Qd7 ½–½ the game ended in a convensing draw.Firouzja was so close from the win.However, he was playing the strongest chess player in the world.Carlsen managed with his experience to keep the position under control and find a draw in this very difficult position for him.
Here is a link to the game :
It seems like the rate at which Firouzja developing his chess skills is really impressive.Carlsen will have to watch out for the deep preparations and unusual play of Firouzja.
In a recent interview with Firouzja he said that his goal is to keep improving and have fun! He is not afraid to take on the strongest players in the world and he is very happy to be one of the top players. As he moved to France, he is taking French lessons and trying to blend in with everyone.
He is currently starting to be active on social media such as twitter and twitch.
“I understand that social media is also very much needed,” said Firouzja. “Somebody like me, I have many fans, so I have to somehow try and reach them and be in touch with them.”
He is streaming for all the chess fans his rapid and blitz play hoping to promote chess all over the world. He also sometimes collaborate with GM Hikaru Nakamura.They play together online and stream the games to their fans. they are also analysing the top chess games played live! we would recommend following them to learn how a top grandmaster think during the game and to get the grandmaster results in your own games!