IM (1989); GM (1990).
Alexey Dmitrievich Shirov (Russian: Алексей Дмитриевич Широв, Latvian: Aleksejs Širovs) was born in Riga in what was then Soviet Latvia. He has a distinctive aggressive and imaginative style that has won him many admirers throughout his career. He has ranked among the world's top players since 1990. He frequently worked his way deep into the World Championship cycles, coming as close to the pinnacle of chess as winning the right to challenge Garry Kasparov for the Classical World Championship, meeting Viswanathan Anand in the final of the 2000 Knockout Tournament and playing in the final match of the World Chess Cup (2007) and playing in the 2007 Candidates. He has been officially ranked as high as number 2 in the world.
<Age> Shirov became the U16 World Champion in 1988 and was runner-up in 1990 in the World Junior Championship behind Ilya M Gurevich.
<National> He won the Spanish championship in 2002 with 8.5/9.
<World> Shirov’s initial entry to the World Championship cycle was in February 1990 at the age of 17, when he shared =1st at the Zonal Tournament held in Lvov, (1) thereby qualifying for the Manila Interzonal held in June and July of that year. There he scored 7.5/13, half a point outside of the qualifying group to the Candidates. (2) He qualified for the 1993 Interzonal in Biel, this time finishing with 8/13, but again missed the qualifying group for the Candidates, this time on tiebreak as Anand, who qualified, also scored 8/13. (3). In 1997, Shirov was seeded directly into the 2nd round of the FIDE Knockout Tournament in Groningen that was to produce a challenger for FIDE world championship title occupied by Anatoly Karpov. He defeated Julio Ernesto Granda Zuniga, Gilberto Milos, Vladimir Eduardovich Akopian in the early rounds before losing to the eventual winner, Anand, in the quarter finals. (4)
In 1998 Shirov was invited by the World Chess Council (a Kasparov creation) to play a ten-game match against Vladimir Kramnik to select a challenger for Kasparov. Shirov won the Shirov - Kramnik WCC Candidates Match (1998) with two wins, no losses and seven draws. However the plans for the Kasparov-Shirov match fell through when financial backing that had been verbally promised by the Andalusian regional government in Spain failed due to a change in government in that province, and no other sponsors could be found and the momentum for organizing the match was eventually lost. (5) Shirov then went on to play in the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (1999) where he was again seeded directly into the 2nd round, and defeated Ivan Sokolov, Milos and Nigel Short in the early rounds before losing to Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu, again in the quarter finals.
In 2000, Shirov reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship, losing 3½–½ to Viswanathan Anand after beating Alexander Onischuk, Mikhail Gurevich, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Ilgizovich Bareev, and Alexander Grischuk in the earlier rounds. The following year, he played in the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001/02) and beat Aimen Rizouk, Zoltan Gyimesi, Alexander Motylev and Veselin Topalov in the early rounds before again losing to Anand, yet again in the quarter finals.
In the parallel championship cycle being run to produce a challenger for the new Classical World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, the 2002 Dortmund tournament doubled as the Candidates event to produce the challenger. In this event, Shirov defeated Topalov in a playoff to determine the winner of Group 1 (of 2). He then played and lost by 2.5-0.5 (+2 =1) to eventual winner and new challenger for the Classical title Peter Leko in one of the preliminary Candidates matches.
Shirov then qualified via his rating to play in the FIDE World Cup (2005) but lost to Mikhail Gurevich in the third round after beating Kirill Kuderinov and Vasilios Kotronias in the first two rounds. He then qualified by rating to participate in the 2007 Candidates Matches to determine four of the participants to the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007). He won his first round Candidates Match: Shirov - Adams (2007) (+1 −1 =4, won in rapid playoff), but was eliminated in the 2nd and qualifying round when he lost the Candidates Match: Aronian - Shirov (2007) (+0 −1 =5). In November–December 2007 Shirov played in the World Cup 2007, defeating Robert Gwaze, Yury Markovich Shulman, Alexander Onischuk, Akopian, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Sergey Karjakin to make it to the final match, which he lost by 2½–1½ to Gata Kamsky.
Qualifying for the World Cup (2011) because of his high rating, Shirov defeated Manuel Leon Hoyos in the first round, but unexpectedly lost to Vladimir Potkin in the second round. Shirov qualified for the World Cup (2013) as a ratings reserve, and defeated former Women's World Champion and Chinese GM Yifan Hou in the first round tiebreaker, progressing to the second round where he was eliminated from the Cup when he lost by 0.5-1.5 to the world's youngest GM, 14 year-old Wei Yi.
Shirov has placed first or equal first in numerous international tournaments:
• Biel 1991
• Madrid (1997) (sharing first with Topalov)
• Ter Apel 1997
• Monte Carlo 1998
• Merida (2000) (quadrangular double round robin)
• the Hrokurinn (2003) round robin tournament in Reykjavik
• the Bosnian International in Sarajevo in 2004 a point and a half clear of the field with 7.5/9
• =1st (alongside Peter Heine Nielsen) at the Smartfish Masters in Norway in 2005
• two-time winner of the Paul Keres Memorial Tournament in Tallinn in 2004 and 2005
• the Canadian Open (2005)
• =1st at the Gibraltar Masters (2005) alongside Aronian, Kiril Dimitrov Georgiev, Emil Davidovich Sutovsky and Zahar Efimenko
• the 7th Poikovsky Tournament (2006), a point clear of Vadim Zvjaginsev, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexey Dreev and Bareev
• placing 1st in the Category 21 M-Tel Masters (2009) a double round tournament held in Sofia, Bulgaria with a performance rating of 2864; he was undefeated in his score of 6½/10
• =1st with Georgiev at CIS - Serie Master 2010
• In September 2010, Shirov won the Shanghai Masters (2010) preliminary tournament in Shanghai to qualify, along with Kramnik, for the Grand Slam Chess Final (2010) to meet Carlsen and Anand. There he scored -2 =4, placing 4th.
• 1st at the 3rd International GM round-robin tournament in Lublin, Poland, the III Lublin Union Memorial 2011 with a score of 5/7
• won the category 13 round robin Buenos Aires Masters (2012) by a clear point ahead of outright second place-getter Ruben Felgaer.
Another outstanding result was =2nd at Corus (2010) with Kramnik, half a point behind Magnus Carlsen. He was 3rd with 5/9 at the category 19 15th Poikovsky Karpov Tournament (2014), a point behind the winner Alexander Morozevich.
A full list of all the matches played by Shirov are listed at <User: amadeus >’s excellent page: Game Collection: Match Shirov!. The most significant exhibition matches played outside of the context of tournament tiebreakers, World Championship, World Cup and other tournament knockout contests, and Candidates matches were against Simen Agdestein in 1992 (won +3 -1); 1995 against Jeroen Piket (won +3 =5 -0), in 1998 vs Zbynek Hracek (won +5 -1 =0); in 1999 vs Judit Polgar (won +5 -0 =1); in 2004 against David Navara (won +1 -0 =1); and in 2012 against Viktor Laznicka (won +2 =4). In December 2013 in Moscow, he played a best-of-six match, the Battle of the Generations (2013), against Russian wunderkind GM Daniil Dubov and won 5-1 (+4 =2). 10 months later in October 2014, he played a 6 game match against Dutch wunderkind Anish Giri at the Unive matches played during the annual event at Hoogoven in the Netherlands, losing 1.5-4.5 (-3 =3). In November 2014, he played a 6-game match against Venezuelan GM Eduardo Patricio Iturrizaga Bonelli, losing by 2.5-3.5 (+1 -2 =3).
Shirov won the 2011 and 2012 Paul Keres memorial Tournaments in Tallinn. In February 2012, he won the Aivars Gipslis Memorial in Riga with 9/9. In September 2012, he won the Sigulda Open Rapid Chess Championship 2012 in Latvia. In December 2012, he came =1st in the European Rapid Championship and in April 2013, he won the 2nd Casino Royal championship, also in Latvia. In May 2013, he won the Incukalns District Open in Latvia. In August 2014, he was =4th with 8/11 at the 7th Stage of the Russian Rapid Grand-Prix 2014. In December 2014, he won the Incukalns District Open Rapid Chess Championship and the Malpils district rapid chess championship.
<Olympiad> Shirov played top board for Latvia at the Olympiads of 1992, 1994, 2012 and 2014, and for Spain at the Olympiads of 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He did not participate in the 2002 Olympiad.
<World Team Championship> Shirov played on board 1 for Latvia at the 1993 World Team Championship, winning individual silver and helping his team to 6th place.
<European Team Championship> Shirov represented Spain in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011, playing top board on all occasions except in 2011 when he played board 2. He won individual gold in 1999.
<European Club Cup> Shirov played in the ECC in the years 1993, 1995,1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Most recently he has played for the Yugra team (2012) and Malachite (2013 & 2014). During this time he has won individual gold and silver, 2 team golds, 4 team silvers, and 3 team bronzes. (6)
<National Leagues> Shirov played board 2 for the Ural Sverdlovsk team in the Russian Premier League from 2006 until 2009 inclusive, winning 2 team golds, 1 team silver, 1 team bronze, and 2 individual golds, and two individual silvers during this period. He absented himself from the competition for two years before rejoining it in 2012 when he played board 2 for Yugra, and in 2013 and 2014, when he played for Malakhit Ekaterinburg, winning team and individual silver (on board 4) in 2013 and team gold and individual silver (also on board 4) in 2014. In 2015, he again played for Malakhit Ekaterinburg, this time on board 1 where he won an individual silver.
Other national leagues in which Shirov has participated include:
• The Bundesliga 2000 (and probably before), 2001, 2002; 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015;
• Spanish Team Championship 2001, 2006 and the CECLUB leagues of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - in 2011 he helped his team Gros Xake Taldea to victory the CECLUB
• French team Championships in 2001-2 and the Top 16 French League 2004 and 2005;
• Iceland Team Championships in 2002;
• Bosnia and Herzegovina Team Championships of 2003 and 2004;
• 4NCL in 2004-5, 2005-6 and 2012-13;
• Hungarian Team Championships of 2008 and 2011;
• Latvian Team Championships of 2011 and 2013;
• Czech Extraliga in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and the
• Finnish League of 2013-14.
<Rest of the World> In 2002, he helped the Rest of the World team win the Russia - The Rest of the World (2002), scoring 7/10 for a TPR of 2866.
Shirov is an author who wrote Fire on Board: Shirov's Best Games (1995) and Fire on Board, Part 2: 1997–2004 (2005). He has also produced numerous ChessBase Fritztrainer DVDs, which deal mainly with the openings and which are listed at his Wikipedia article (linked below).
In 1994, Alexey married an Argentine, Verónica Alvarez. He then moved to Tarragona and became a citizen of Spain. He subsequently divorced Alvarez and was married to Lithuanian GM Viktorija Cmilyte from 2001-2007 before divorcing again and marrying Russian WIM Olga Dolgova in 2010. He is again playing for Latvia, where he is that country's top player.
Rating and ranking
Shirov has been amongst the world's top 100 players since July 1990 and has remained in that group since. He was in the world's top 10 from January 1992 until April 2001, throughout 2003, for most of 2008 and in May and July 2010.
The highest rating achieved by Shirov was 2755 was in January 2008 when he was ranked #4 in the world. His highest FIDE world ranking was #2 behind Karpov (Kasparov had been suspended from the FIDE ratings tables) throughout 1994 when his rating was 2715 in January before rising to 2740 in July. Including Kasparov, his highest ranking was #3 after Kasparov and Karpov.
Sources and references
(1) [rusbase-1]; (2) http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/919...; (3) http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/949...; (4) http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/979...; (5) http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/989...; (6) http://www.olimpbase.org/playersc/f....
Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Wikipedia article: Alexei Shirov; Mark Weeks’ comprehensive records of the World Championships and their qualifying events: http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/wcc...; OlimpBase - the encyclopedia of team chess: http://www.olimpbase.org/