Chess arbiter responds after Alireza claims he was told to bring new shoes at Candidates

Chess arbiter responds after Alireza claims he was told to bring new shoes at Candidates

Controversy erupted at the Candidates chess tournament in Toronto after French Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja claimed an arbiter distracted him by requesting he change shoes.

Ian Nepomniachtchi drew his Round 9 match against Alireza Firouzja with the black pieces on Sunday, but the Frenchman says his concentration was affected by an arbiter’s “shameful action.”

Following the Candidates match, Firouzja posted a series of remarks on X, revealing that as he walked around during his game waiting for Ian to move, the chief arbiter approached him because his shoes were “making noise on the wooden floor.”

“He told me to not walk and bring new shoes for tomorrow, but I have the formal shoe that is apporved and am wearing it for more than one year. This was a big distraction for me during the game and I completely lost my focus,” he said.

However, Chief Arbiter IA Aris Marghetis shot back at those claims in an interview with Chess.com, revealing that fellow player Nijat Abasov had complained.

According to Marghetis, Firouzja had been walking in a limited space and his shoes sounded more like boots with how he was walking. He had suggested the player either change how he walks or wear different shoes, but he didn’t threaten any disciplinary action.

Marghetis also revealed that Firouzja threatened to file an appeal because the suggestion “distracted” him, but noted that he walked much softer after their exchange. He further added that the exchange happened during the middle of the match and Firouzja wasn’t under time pressure.

So far, Alireza hasn’t filed an appeal and is set to compete against Fabiano Caruana with the black pieces on Monday.

This isn’t the first time a player’s shoes have caused controversy. A similar situation occurred at The 2023 FIDE World Rapid Chess Championships when an arbiter asked Anna-Maja Kazarian to change out of her Burberry sneakers.

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