Alexei Shirov

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Alexei Shirov
Full nameAlexei Dmitrievich Shirov
Country Spain
TitleGrandmaster (1990)
FIDE rating2722
#24 in the January 2011 FIDE world rankings
Peak rating2749 (January 2008)

Alexei Shirov[1] (born 4 July 1972 in Riga, Latvia) is a chess grandmaster. He has consistently ranked among the world's top players since the early 1990s, and reached a ranking as high as number four in 1998. Shirov is also a well-regarded chess author.

Career[change | change source]

Shirov became the World Champion (under 16) in 1988, and achieved the title of grandmaster in 1990. He is the winner of numerous international tournaments.

In 1998 Shirov's ranking rose to number four in the world. On the basis of his rating, he was invited to play a ten-game match against Vladimir Kramnik to select a challenger for World Champion Garry Kasparov. Shirov won the match with two wins, no losses and seven draws.[2] However the plans for the Kasparov match fell through when funds could not be raised. When Kasparov played Kramnik for the world title in 2000, Shirov maintained that the match was invalid and he was the rightful challenger.[3]

In 2000, Shirov reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship, losing to Viswanathan Anand.

In May/June 2007 he played in the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Chess Championship. He won his first round match against Michael Adams (+1-1=4, won in rapid playoff), but was eliminated when he lost his second round match to Levon Aronian (+0-1=5). In November/December 2007 Shirov played in the Chess World Cup. He lost in the final 2.5-1.5 to Gata Kamsky.

In May 2009, Alexei Shirov achieved the greatest triumph of his career by placing 1st in the high Category 21 M-Tel Masters 2009 tournament, a double round tournament held in Sofia, Bulgaria. He was undefeated, and scored 6.5/10—seven draws and three victories, two against Vassily Ivanchuk and the other against Magnus Carlsen in the final round. By this success he was given entry to the Grand Slam Chess Final 2009 in Bilbao where he met Levon Aronian, Sergey Karjakin (winner of Corus 2009), and Alexander Grischuk (winner of Linares 2009).

Personal life[change | change source]

In 1994 Shirov married, and later divorced, Verónica Alvarez, moved to Tarragona, and became a citizen of Spain. He married, then later divorced, Lithuanian IM/WGM Viktorija Čmilytė from 2001 to 2008.[4] Although he still plays for Spain, he now lives in Latvia.

Playing style[change | change source]

Shirov is noted for his attacking style and for seeking complications, a tendency which has led to comparisons with fellow Latvian and former world champion, Mikhail Tal, under whom he studied in his youth.

Sample game[change | change source]

e6 black king
f6 black pawn
g6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
a4 black pawn
h4 white pawn
c3 white bishop
h3 black bishop
g2 white pawn
g1 white king
The position after 47. ... Bh3, the move that is placed number one in John Emms' book The most amazing chess moves of all time.

During the 1998 Linares chess tournament Shirov played black against future FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov and won with a piece sacrifice in a bishop and pawn ending.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Ba4 O-O 9.Ne2 Nd7 10.O-O e5 11.f3 Qe7 12.Be3 Rd8 13.Qc2 Nb6 14.Bb3 Be6 15.Rad1 Nc4 16.Bc1 b5 17.f4 exd4 18.Nxd4 Bg4 19.Rde1 Qc5 20.Kh1 a5 21.h3 Bd7 22.a4 bxa4 23.Ba2 Be8 24.e5 Nb6 25.f5 Nd5 26.Bd2 Nb4 27.Qxa4 Nxa2 28.Qxa2 Bxe5 29.fxg6 hxg6 30.Bg5 Rd5 31.Re3 Qd6 32.Qe2 Bd7 33.c4 Bxd4 34.cxd5 Bxe3 35.Qxe3 Re8 36.Qc3 Qxd5 37.Bh6 Re5 38.Rf3 Qc5 39.Qa1 Bf5 40.Re3 f6 41.Rxe5 Qxe5 42.Qa2+ Qd5 43.Qxd5+ cxd5 44.Bd2 a4 45.Bc3 Kf7 46.h4 Ke6 47.Kg1 Bh3!! (see diagram) 48.gxh3 Kf5 49.Kf2 Ke4 50.Bxf6 d4 51.Be7 Kd3 52.Bc5 Kc4 53.Be7 Kb3 0-1

Chess books[change | change source]

Shirov has written two books of his best games:

  • Shirov, Alexei (1995). Fire on Board: Shirov's Best Games. Everyman Chess. ISBN 978-1-85744-150-5.
  • Shirov, Alexei (2005). Fire on Board, Part 2: 1997-2004. Everyman Chess. ISBN 978-1-85744-382-0.

References[change | change source]

  1. Aleksejs Širovs, Алексей Дмитриевич Широв
  2. 1998-99 World Chess Council, Mark Week's Chess pages
  3. Interview by Hartmut Metz Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine, May 2000, translation by Harald Fietz
  4. ChessBase interview with Ruslan Ponomariov (see last paragraph), 12 November 2008