Motaz Azaiza first made headlines in 2021 when, at the age of 8, he became the youngest Palestinian to earn the title of Chess Grandmaster. His meteoric rise to stardom at such a young age has captivated the chess world and brought international attention to the promising players emerging from Palestine and the Middle East.
Who is Motaz Azaiza?
Motaz Azaiza was born on March 15, 2013 in the Gaza Strip to parents Belal Azaiza and Manal Qudaih. He displayed an exceptional aptitude for chess from the age of 5, when his father started teaching him the game. Within just two years, he was competing and winning against skilled adult players. His victories drew the attention of the Palestinian Chess Federation, who provided specialized training to nurture his talent.
At the age of 7 in 2020, Azaiza earned the title of FIDE Master, his first international chess title. This qualified him to compete for the ultimate achievement in chess – the prestigious Grandmaster title. The following year, he crossed the minimum rating threshold of 2500 Elo points to become the world’s youngest grandmaster at the age of 8 years, 4 months and 25 days.
His record has since been broken by Indian prodigy Abhimanyu Mishra, who earned his GM title at the age of 12 years and 4 months in 2022. However, Azaiza remains the youngest GM in the Arab world and his success represents a triumph for Palestinian chess.
At A Glance Motaz Azaiza
|Date of Birth
|March 15, 2013
|Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine
|10 years old (as of Nov 2023)
|Youngest Palestinian GM ever (age 8 years 4 months)
|Current FIDE Rating
|2416 (Nov 2023)
|Ibrahim Hesham (Gambit Chess Academy)
|Father Belal Azaiza, Mother Manal Qudaih
|Gaza City, Palestine
|Breaking record for youngest Arab world chess GM
|Father Belal (taught chess initially)
Historic Achievement for Palestine
Azaiza’s rise to grandmaster is a history-making achievement for Palestine. He is the first GM in the Palestinian territories and the second overall after Salem Saleh, who earned the title in 2007 but grew up mainly in the UAE. As a resident of the Gaza Strip, Azaiza overcame exceptional difficulties to excel at chess. His accomplishment demonstrates the abundant talent in Gaza and gives hope to aspiring young players there.
The situation in Gaza poses unique challenges for athletes and players. The Israeli blockade severely restricts freedom of movement while the dense population and limited space leaves little room for adequate training facilities. Constant power shortages disrupt internet connectivity vital for competing internationally.
Despite all obstacles, Azaiza’s performance proves players in Gaza can succeed given the right support system. His precedent will hopefully encourage more investment into chess programs and training centers to develop future talent. Gambit, the chess academy founded by his coach and mentor, provides a blueprint for how talented, motivated students can thrive.
You can know Motaz Azaiza Facebook.
Rapid Rise to Stardom
Since earning his GM title, Azaiza’s star has rapidly risen on the global stage. He has been featured by many major international media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and ESPN. Netflix is currently producing a documentary film about his journey titled “It Takes a Queen” directed by Natasha Singh.
He has leveraged his fame to advance various causes. He has spoken to raise awareness on the situation in Palestine and call for rights for children in conflict zones. Recently appointed a UNICEF Ambassador, he hopes to advocate for empoweringeducation and protection for children globally.
Azaiza has also been active on the tournament circuit, competing in Europe, the Gulf, and online chess platforms. Though his performance has fluctuated against elite competition, his rating remains over 2400 – exceptionally high for his age. With more experience facing top talent, he aims to eventually break into the Top 100 and compete for a potential world championship.
Exceeding Early Expectations
While Azaiza has already exceeded most expectations for his age, many within the chess world believe this is only the start of his great potential. Parimarjan Negi, the former second youngest grandmaster, remarked “the way Talent works is that it shows extreme early potential – and Azaiza certainly has that.”
According to FIDE Master and coach GM Igor Smirnov, the level Azaiza has reached already indicates he has the capacity to cross 2700 in rating and potentially compete for the world title one day if he continues diligent training. “He already compensates the lack of experience with excellent intuition, confidence, and persistence,” observes Smirnov. “This explains his victories against clearly stronger grandmasters.”
As he gains greater exposure to top-level play, Azaiza will have opportunities to refine his positional understanding and balance between creativity and pragmatism. Maintaining motivation through teen years is often difficult but support from his family, friends and already notable achievements could help him stay dedicated to progression. With Palestine’s first homegrown prodigy, the future looks bright.
Q&A on Motaz Azaiza Biography
Here are some common questions people search about Motaz Azaiza with answers:
How old is Motaz Azaiza?
Motaz Azaiza is currently 10 years old. He was born on March 15, 2013 in the Gaza Strip.
Where is Motaz Azaiza originally from?
Motaz is originally from and currently lives in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip region of Palestine. He learned to play chess in Gaza and still trains there.
What record does Motaz Azaiza hold?
Motaz holds the record for the youngest Palestinian chess grandmaster in history. He achieved the GM title in 2021 at the age of 8 years, 4 months and 25 days.
Who taught Motaz Azaiza to play chess?
Motaz first learned chess from his father, Belal Azaiza, who started teaching him the game around the age of 5. As his talent became apparent, he received specialized training from chess coach Ibrahim Hesham through the Gambit Chess Academy.
Why is Motaz Azaiza famous?
Motaz gained fame for becoming the youngest grandmaster in the Arab world and youngest Palestinian to earn the prestigious ranking at the record age of 8 years old. His brilliant play and historic achievement made him an international chess star.
Is Motaz Azaiza the youngest grandmaster ever?
No – formerly the world’s youngest GM, Azaiza’s record was broken in 2022 by 12-year old Abhimanyu Mishra from India. However, Azaiza remains the youngest GM in the Arab world specifically.
What obstacles did Azaiza face becoming a chess prodigy in Palestine?
Azaiza overcame tough training conditions while growing up in the Gaza Strip including limited mobility, lack of facilities, frequent power cuts and unreliable internet. His performance despite obstacles highlights the abundance of talent among Palestinian youth.
What is Motaz Azaiza’s current chess rating?
As of November 2023, Motaz Azaiza has a FIDE rating of 2416, which is exceptionally high for a 10-year old. Maintaining over 2400 already suggests huge potential to progress even further professionally.
Is Motaz Azaiza the best young chess player today?
While he does not currently hold the record for youngest GM, Motaz is certainly among the top rising talents in chess globally. Experts are excited by his intuition, creativity and persistence displaying great future potential.