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’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.
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.
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