General Jul 10, 2021 | 11:31 AMby Colin McGourty

Alireza Firouzja is now the French no. 1

World no. 12 Alireza Firouzja is now officially a French player. The 18-year-old Iranian-born chess prodigy had been living in Chartres, France since 2019 and was recently granted French citizenship. At the time he was still playing under the FIDE flag, but his transfer to the French Chess Federation is now complete, meaning that Firouzja will go into a World Cup match against Andrew Tang or Javokhir Sindarov next Thursday 15th July as the French no. 1.

Alireza Firouzja is now listed by FIDE as a French player | photo: Lennart Ootes

Alireza Firouzja’s decision to move to France came shortly after the 15-year-old had little choice but to forfeit a game against an Israeli player in the 2019 GRENKE Chess Open, ruining his tournament hopes. Firouzja then played under the FIDE flag, for instance in the 2019 World Rapid Championship, where he took a silver medal.

Firouzja has gone on to confirm his status as the most promising teenager since Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen, with many tipping him as a future World Chess Champion. That means it’s likely that there were other suitors for Alireza behind the scenes, but a few days ago it was confirmed that Alireza had been granted French citizenship.

That still didn’t mean he had to play for France, but it was the obvious choice, and while there were fears that paperwork might take time it seems everything has now been finalised. The FIDE website shows that Firouzja made the transfer for no fee and will be eligible to play freely for France from Monday.

With Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s recent slump, that means 18-year-old Alireza is now the new French no. 1, with a 10-point lead on the FIDE rating list.

1Firouzja, AlirezaGM275902003
2Vachier-Lagrave, MaximeGM274991990
3Bacrot, EtienneGM267801983
4Lagarde, MaximeGM264801994
5Bauer, ChristianGM263901977
6Fressinet, LaurentGM263801981
7Moussard, JulesGM263501995
8Gharamian, TigranGM260201984
9Gozzoli, YannickGM260001983
10Edouard, RomainGM259801990

His first event representing France will be the 2021 FIDE World Cup, which he goes into as the 8th seed. He starts from Round 2, where he’ll face the winner of the match between Uzbekistan’s Javokhir Sindarov and US speed demon Andrew Tang. From there he’s seeded to face Jorge Cori, Jorden van Foreest and Leinier Dominguez before a potential quarterfinal against Magnus Carlsen.

A curiosity is that MVL is still seeded a single point above Alireza for the World Cup, since that uses the June 1st FIDE rating list

You can follow all the FIDE World Cup games live here on chess24 from 14:00 CEST on Monday, July 12th: Open | Women

If you’d like to try and predict the brackets you can submit your predictions at Challenge: Open | Women

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