The prestigious Wijk aan Zee tournament goes without the dream meeting between Magnus Carlsen (31) and Alireza Firouzja (18) after the world champion said no to the organizers. Hikaru Nakamura (34) is critical of Team Firouzja.
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– It seems as if they think there is no limit to money in the chess world, the American says on his youtube channel.
It was chess24.com who recently revealed that Firouzja had priced himself out of the starting field. The tournament manager in the Netherlands, Jeroen van den Berg, confirmed to the website – which is owned by the Play Magnus group – “they asked for much more money than I offered”.
– The tournament had much more money before than it has now. The steel industry is not what it once was, says Hikaru Nakamura, referring to the fact that the steel giant Tata is the sponsor of the Wijk aan Zee tournament.
– As far as I remember, I got 12,500 dollars in starting money the last time I played there.
The organizers have been criticized for going out with the statement about Firouzja. Nakamura does not agree:
– I think it’s right that they went out with it. For everyone wonders why Firouzja does not play. It is not a problem that they go out with it – as long as they do not state sums, Hikaru Nakamura believes.
– I hope they stop demanding crazy sums. In that case, Alireza loses the opportunity to play the big tournaments. One must understand the economy in chess. It may be due to lack of experience, says the American, who believes other players must see it as an honor to meet Magnus Carlsen.
Team Firouzja has not commented on either the article on chess24.com or the statements from Nakamura.
The Wijk aan Zee tournament has both starting money and prize money – but the size of both is secret.
Henrik Carlsen does not want to comment on the situation around Firouzja in particular, but says on a general basis that “Magnus is happy to meet the best possible resistance”.
The Norwegian is “the king of Wijk aan Zee” with seven victories, two more Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen first joined Wijk aan Zee in 2004, aged 13. It was in many ways his breakthrough when he won the C-Class there. Since then, he has spent almost every January in the windswept seaside resort town. Now he is back again in 2022.
Strictly speaking, Magnus must answer why he keeps coming back to Wijk aan Zee, but I think there are several factors where the common denominator is well-being and good conditions, says Henrik Carlsen.
– This is where his international career really began, and he has also won many times. The Dutch have an engaged and knowledgeable chess audience. There are direct flights, and in recent years we have been able to borrow a nice apartment in one of the hotel complex. Where he thrives along the way, and the food at the restaurant in the hotel and elsewhere in the city is good. It is also important that the organizer is professional and comfortable to deal with so that difficult or unpleasant situations occur extremely rarely, he says.
There are always 14 participants in the Wijk aan Zee tournament, and they play the so-called “round robin”, everyone meets everyone. This year, 11 of the top 30 players in the world are involved, so Magnus Carlsen gets tough opposition, not least from home hope Anish Giri and American Fabiano Caruana. But it was the more unknown Dutchman Jorden van Forrest who won last year – the first home winner since Jan Timman in 1985. Carlsen was obviously impressed, because van Forrest was part of the Norwegian’s team for the World Cup match in Dubai this autumn.