The short answer is 6 (3 pairs).
Alireza Firouzja just became the youngest player to reach 2800 ELO at 18 years and 5 months, surpassing Magnus Carlsen’s record of 18 years and 11 months. He did so by grinding out a tricky endgame at the European Team Chess Championships over GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Alireza is truly a prodigy, and he certainly has the potential to become the world champion. He recently qualified for the Candidates Tournament 2022 (a tournament in which players compete for a spot to challenge the reigning world champion), giving him an opportunity to become the youngest world champion ever (a record currently held by Garry Kasparov at 22 years of age).
Two of Alireza Firouzja’s teammates on the French team had somewhat similar names, Maxime Lagarde and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (although Alireza was born in Iran, he changed federation due to Iranian rules barring their athletes from competing with Israelis). By some free association, this reminded me of the saga of Tigran Petrosian. Last fall, a friend sent an article about an Armenian grandmaster, Tigran Petrosian, who had been permanently banned from chess.com after cheating in the Pro Chess League. I naturally expressed surprise that a former world champion (and one that must be very elderly at that) would stoop to such lows. Moreover, Tigran Petrosian apparently sent unsavory messages to the GM that had reported him (Wesley So, Filipino-American super-GM and #7 on the live rankings).
“You are a biggest looser I ever seen in my life! You was doing PIPI in your pampers when I was beating players much more stronger then you!”Tigran L Petrosian to Wesley So
To my surprise, it turns out there were actually two chess grandmasters named Tigran Petrosian! There was the world champion Tigran V. Petrosian (1929-1984), and Tigran L. Petrosian who was named after the world champion (1984-). The two were not related at all. Tigran V. was an 8-time Candidate, and became the first Armenian world champion in 1963 by defeating Boris Spassky. Tigran L. is a strong grandmaster (peak rating 2671, currently 2573) but is certainly not a super-GM.
In any case, this had me wondering how many chess grandmasters had the same name. I sorted through a Wikipedia list containing all 1948 chess grandmasters to try to identify other examples. The most common repeated last names were Guseinov (4), Hansen (5), Ivanov (5), and Petrosian (4). The only other grandmasters with identical first and last names that I identified were:
- Alexander Ivanov (b. 1956) and Alexander A. Ivanov (b. 1965). This was almost certainly just a concidence.
- Alexander Zaitsev (b. 1935) and Alexander Zaitsev (b. 1985). I was not able to find details on whether the younger Zaitsev was named after the other.
- Not a chess player, but Alexander Zaitsev (figure skater) and his partner Irina Rodnina are two-time Olympic gold medalists. See their short program at Innsbruck, Austria in 1976 below.