Top juniors in 2022: Alireza Firouzja

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/5/2023 – The new generation of chess stars is here, with no fewer than nine players aged 19 or younger rated above 2650 at the time. In a 7-part series, we will look at the performances of the top juniors in 2022. Let us start with the clear leader of the pack, Alireza Firouzja. | Find here analysis of a remarkable victory by Firouzja, annotated by Romain Edouard. | Photo: Grand Chess Tour / Lennart Ootes

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Consolidating

Alireza FirouzjaIn terms of rating gains and tournament successes, 2022 was not Alireza Firouzja’s strongest year — his astounding ascent was seen in 2021, in fact. However, the 19-year-old, now playing for France, consolidated his standing as an elite grandmaster.

Firouzja played three classical tournaments in 2022: the Superbet Classic in Bucharest, the Candidates in Madrid and the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. Combining the three events, the youngster lost 19 rating points, which is not a major loss if we consider the fact that he began the year with a superlative 2804 Elo rating.

His performances in Romania and especially in Madrid, nonetheless, must have been disappointing for the ever-competitive Iranian-born star. Still, he more than managed to make up for the disappointments during his first visit to Saint Louis, where he ended a great run by beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in tiebreaks to win the Sinquefield Cup.

This brings us to Firouzja’s remarkable rapid and blitz outings. In both categories, he managed to gain rating points throughout the year. His strong showings at the SuperUnited Croatia and the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournaments allowed him to get clear first place in the overall standings of the Grand Chess Tour. His 15/18 performance in the blitz section of the Saint Louis tournament gained him over 100 rating points, leaving him atop the blitz ranking at the end of the year, with a stratospheric 2904 Elo to his name!

Known for doing things his way, Firouzja declined to participate in three top events during the year — the Tata Steel Masters (he will not be playing this year either), the Chess Olympiad (he and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave did not travel to Chennai due to the weather) and the World Rapid and Blitz Championships. No matter his reasons, we should assume that he is still working hard to further improve his results in the future. 

Ivan Sokolov, his former trainer, had this to say about Firouzja:

I think he certainly has a lot of similarities to Magnus, like excellent calculation. On the other hand, just like Magnus, he doesn’t want to enter some crazy Tal-like position or Shirov-like position, sacrificing your house. This is not what he wants.

He’s an active player, with a predominantly active positional style. He plays actively, but on a sound basis. He’s got very good technique, a technique even Magnus felt himself, losing that technical position against him in the World Rapid. Not many people on this planet can beat Magnus in such a technical way. 

Alireza Firouzja

Full information at ratings.fide.com

Firouzja vs. Yilmaz - European Team Championship 2021

 

Annotated by Romain Edouard for ChessBase Magazine

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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