G.O.A.T.? Only in a World Championship duel against Alireza Firouzja in 2023 would Magnus Carlsen have been prepared to stake his claim as the chess supremo. All other contenders? Merely sideshows. But this prodigy from France, who crossed the 2800 Elo threshold at just 18, would have been the one against whom Carlsen would have once again defended his crown.
Firouzja didn’t make the cut for the World Championship match, leading to Carlsen’s withdrawal. Such was Carlsen’s yearning for a worthy adversary from the new generation, he took the extraordinary talent under his wing during the pandemic months. The two honed their skills together and faced off repeatedly in online tournaments, allowing the rising star to ascend to the top echelons.
However, such a rivalry pact requires two individuals with aligned ambitions. And Alireza Firouzja seems uncertain about his. Yes, he is a chess prodigy, yes, he intends to remain in the chess world and enhance his skills, but no, he doesn’t wish to dedicate his entire energy to chess like his counterparts.
A fashion designer? The rumor made rounds for a while, largely dismissed – until Firouzja confirmed it at the outset of 2023. In an interview, the Iranian-born designer revealed that it had been a serious pursuit for two years and was now a profession he was actively cultivating. Fashion design diverts time away from chess, but that’s a compromise he’s willing to make. He aspires to excel in both.
At the WEISSENHAUS Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge, his attention will be split between Chess960 and the face-off with the man who would have relished him as a World Championship adversary. Nevertheless, Firouzja will manage to juggle both professions on the Baltic Sea. It would be a surprise if fashion designer Frank Rudolf and Alireza Firouzja didn’t exchange some professional insights while Rudolf outfits the world’s sixth-ranked player.
FIDE title: Grandmaster
World Championship Candidate: In November 2021, Firouzja won the FIDE “Grand Swiss” at the age of 18 ahead of a number of world-class players. This qualified him for the 2022 World Championship Candidates Tournament.
World Championship Silver and Bronze: Firouzja finished second at the 2019 Rapid World Championship and third at the 2021 Blitz World Championship.
Tour Winner: In 2022, Firouzja won the Grand Chess Tour.
Rating Record: Firouzja is the youngest player to have surpassed 2800 Elo. He was 18 years and 166 days old. Thus, he surpassed the previous record of Magnus Carlsen by more than five months.
Iranian Champion: Firouzja won the Iranian Chess Championship at the age of 12. Never had a national champion of Iran been younger.