NEW YORK (VINnews) — Chess.com, a site boasting 77 million users worldwide has ranked 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja as second in the world chess rankings for 2021. Firouzja was born in Iran but elected to renounce his Iranian citizenship in 2019 after the Iranian government forbade him to compete against Israelis. At 16, Firouzja became the second youngest 2700-rated player and won a silver medal at the 2019 World Rapid Chess Championship. In November 2021, at 18, he won the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament and an individual gold medal at the European Team Chess Championship. He won a bronze medal at the 2021 World Blitz Chess Championship.
Prior to this, the prodigy chess player had been crowned Iran’s chess champion at the age of 12 and a grandmaster at the age of 14. In December 2019 he became the first Iranian ever to reach second place in the world championship which took place in Moscow.
Currently Firouzja is competing in international competitions under French citizenship. Iran prohibits its sportsmen from competing against Israelis and forces them to lose contests rather than face Israelis. Iranian leader Ali Khamenei has praised Iranian sportsmen for refusing to play against Israelis even if they are subject to disciplinary action for their behavior. The deputy president of the world chess federation, Nigel Short, recently warned Iran that it could be boycotted from international events if it did not permit Iranians to compete with Israelis.