An online 'Bullet Chess' championship is drawing big cash and big names

Online chess leader is hosting its fifth annual Bullet Chess Championship tournament, and the lineup is pretty wild to look at. World #1 Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen will appear, as will rising Grandmaster and previous tournament winner Alireza Firouzja.  Reigning Bullet Chess champion Grandmaster Hiraku Nakamura, well known for streaming on Twitch and YouTube to his 2 million subscribers, will also face off once again with Grandmaster Andrew Tang—who almost stole the title from him last year. 

Oh, and there's this other Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky—he just beat Carlsen and Nakamura in a Bullet competition this past weekend. The total prize pool is some $100,000.

Bullet Chess is the fastest version of what are called rapid chess variants—you might have heard of Blitz chess. This tournament version of Bullet Chess gives players a mere minute on the clock, each, to make their moves. The Bullet Championship will take place on July 17 to 21 and promises to be an incredible exercise of sport in the game of kings. Esport, I guess, since they're playing online.

Now that I think about it, do these tournaments make chess the first game to be a transmedia esport—equally physical and digital? Either way you'll be able to watch on, Twitch, or YouTube with commentary by's experts.

If you're just catching on, Chess has had explosive popularity the last few years. Internet chess has truly changed how the sport is played and enjoyed, not to mention ballooned the popularity of speed chess styles that are just as entertaining to watch as play. It's so explosive that was hit with a big outage earlier this year. "Honestly, this sucks," said as the proliferation of players and growth just absolutely pounded its servers.

There will be three qualifier events for the Bullet Chess Championship this week for six places in the main event. Those events are open to any titled player on—of which there are quite a few. Those will happen on Thursday, July 6 at 9 am PT/18:00 CEST, and two on July 7 at 9 am PT/18:00 CEST and 12 am PT/21:00 CEST.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.