Iranian refugee Alireza Firouzja defeats world chess champion

Iran's Alireza Firouzja plays against Belarus' Vladislav Kovalev during the first round of the 82nd edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, on January 11, 2020. (AFP)

Iranian refugee Alireza Firouzja shocked the world of chess on Thursday after winning the Banter Blitz Cup by defeating Norwegian World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Firouzja claimed the $14,000 prize by defeating Carlsen 8.5-7.5 in the final.

16-year-old Firouzja quit Iran’s national team in December in protest at the Islamic Republic’s informal ban on competing against Israelis.

Worried about a potential match up with Israeli players, the Iranian chess federation chose not to participate in the Moscow World Blitz in December. This did not get in the way of Firouzja, who took part in the competition under the flag of FIDE – the global chess organization – and came second to Carlsen.

Firouzja has been playing under the flag of FIDE since. He moved to France at the end of 2019 so he could play chess without any government restrictions.

Firouzja and Carlsen will face each other again on Monday in the $250,000 Magnus Carlsen Invitational.

Iran has forbidden its athletes from competing against Israeli opponents since 1979.

This policy got Iran banned from international judo competitions last October.

The ruling came after 2018 world champion Saeid Mollaei walked off the Iranian team in August, saying he had been ordered to lose matches and withdraw from competitions so as not to face Israelis.

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Last Update: 07:02 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02
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