Everyone Bashes Firouzja For Playing Online Chess
As tensions in the Candidates Tournament continue to evaporate because Nepo is dominating the event, everyone in the chess world seems to bash Alireza Firouzja, the rating favorite, for staying up all night amid the most important tournament of his life (they say) and playing hundreds of bullet games online. Firouzja lost to Nepo the day after.
Garry Kasparov, the unrivaled authority on the sport, commented on the situation during his appearance in St. Louis chess broadcast (as reported by ChessBase): Playing bullet chess is not a good idea, period, if you’re preparing for the Candidates. During the tournament, it’s even much worse. And playing it after a loss [against Nakamura, in round 10] trying to recover your pride, your honour, to massage your ego, it’s triple bad.[...] I thought [Firouzja] could do much better, but I think he overestimated his chances. Somehow it reminds me of Bobby Fischer in 1962, in Curaçao.
Nigel Short went further in his Twitter post:
So why did Firouzja stay up all night playing bullet? Apparently, he simply wanted to take his mind off the Candidates, and that is how he r_e_l_a_x_e_s.
Both Kasparov and Short as well as most of the participants of the Candidates hail from a culture where chess is the official sport and should be treated as such. Winning a tournament requires substantial expenses, training camps, physical therapy, and a masseuse (Nepo had one in Dubai). For Firouzja, who is 19 years old, and who played chess online for most of his life, chess is more or a hobby and a profession mashed into one. He will certainly deploy all the tactical preparation techniques for his next Candidates, and will likely win it.
For now, it’s simply clear that he loves chess and appears to have a good time in Madrid.