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16-Year-Old Brings Down World Chess Champion

Alireza Firouzja beats Magnus Carlsen in Banter Blitz Cup, but they meet again next week
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2020 3:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – Before they squared off in the Banter Blitz Cup final, World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen said Alireza Firouzja, 16, was going to be "by far my biggest challenge." He wasn't wrong. The Iranian teenager defeated Carlsen 8.5-7.5, this week in the livestreamed event to win $14,000, CNN reports. "I think the match was 50:50," Firouzja said. "I don't think I was favorite or he was favorite ... you should be a little lucky." As the match ended, Carlsen, who has been world champion since 2013, said: "Good game, Alireza! That was really horrible, I just was way out of shape, but he deserves full credit." Firouzja earned his way to the finals by beating 132 players; 109 grandmasters faced off along the way.

Under the rules of the seven-month Chess24 event, players have to comment on their play—and their opponents'—during a series of three-minute games. Firouzja became Iran's champion when he was 12 and a grandmaster at 14. He stopped competing under his country's flag last year, per News.com.au, when Iran prohibited its athletes from competing against Israelis. He's lived in France with his family since he was 8 and now doesn't represent any nation when he plays. Much of the chess world considers him the most likely heir to Carlsen, 29, of Norway. The two are to meet again Monday in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Eight of the world's best players will compete in the $250,000 event. "I think we can expect to see a lot more from Firouzja," Carlsen said. (Read more Magnus Carlsen stories.)

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