An Iranian chess champion, 15-year-old Alireza Firouzja, refused last week to play his Israeli opponent Or Bronstein during the Grenke Chess Open being held in Germany. Grenke is the biggest chess open event in Europe.
According to Firstpost, an online Indian news outlet, when the arbiters announced the start of the third round, it was noticed that Iranian Firouzja, one of the top Grandmasters in the event, was missing from his seat.
This could have major consequences for Firouzja in the tournament, which boasts €20,000 first prize and the opportunity to play in classic tournaments.
This is not the first time such an incident has occured. In January, another Iranian player Aryan Gholami refused to play Israeli Ariel Erenberg in the Rilton Cup in Sweden. Gholami forefeited his chance to win $10,000.
Hailed a hero in Iran, the 17-year-old met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February and praised the young man for his decision.
Gholami told Swedish chess website Schack.se that he had no ill will towards the Israeli, but “if I were to play against an Israeli, it would have serious consequences for me.”
Playing chess against Israelis could have major consequences for Iranian players, as was the case for Borna Derakhshani in 2017. The 14-year old Iranian chess player, was banned by the Iran Chess Federation for life for playing against an Israeli.
If banned by the Iranian Chess Federation, one cannot participate or play in any international chess games.