Champions Chess Tour with $1.5 million in prizes to kick off next week

by ChessBase
11/14/2020 – Following the success of the Magnus Carlsen Tour, chess24 and the Play Magnus Group announced the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour, a series of ten online tournaments featuring elite players. The action kicks off November 22 with the first ‘Regular’ tournament, the Skilling Open. Six ‘Regular’ tournaments, three ‘Majors’ and the ‘Finals’ will take place from November 2020 until September 2021.

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Ten events, $1.5 million up for grabs

The Champions Chess Tour is the successor to the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and aims to be bigger and better, but also more compact. Instead of 5 events over 4 months there will be 10 over 10 months, with the prize fund rising from $1 million to $1.5 million. Six Regular tournaments, three Majors and the Finals will take place from November 2020 until September 2021.

Next Sunday, November 22, the first Regular tournament — the Skilling Open — will kick off with sixteen players and a new format, as the first 9 tournaments will have the same structure:

  • A 3-day round-robin (16 players for each Regular event and 12 for each Major). 
  • The Top 8 players advance to a 6-day knockout, with two days each for the quarterfinals, semi-finals and final.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen during the first online tour | Photo: Arne Horvei 

Time control

The time controls used in the Champions Chess Tour will be the same as for the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour:

  • Rapid: 15'+10" (each player has 15 minutes for all moves, with a 10-second increment after each move)
  • Blitz: 5'+3"
  • Armageddon: White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, with no increments. If the game is drawn Black wins the match

The difference comes in the knockout stage, where instead of having best-of-3 (5 or 7) matches, each encounter will be decided over two days. On day 1 there will be four rapid games, and if the match ends 2:2 it will simply be a draw (there doesn’t have to be a winner).

On day 2 another 4-game match will be held. If both matches are drawn, or the players have traded wins, then shortly after the second match there will be a playoff: two blitz games followed, if needed, by Armageddon.

Tour points system

The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour had a simple principle that anyone who won a Tour event qualified for the Finals. That still remains, as the winner of a Major qualifies for the Finals, while the winner of a Regular event qualifies for the next Major.

This time, however, Tour points will take on much more importance. The maximum available for a Regular event like the Skilling Open is 50 (10 for finishing 1st in the Prelims and 40 for winning the final).

Prelim result Tour Points Prize
1st 10  
2nd 8  
3rd 6  
4th 5  
5th 4  
6th 3  
7th 2  
8th 1  
9-16th 0 $2,500
Knockout result Tour Points Prize
Quarterfinal loser 0 $5,000
Semifinal loser 10 $7,500
Runner-up 20 $15,000
Winner 40 $30,000

For a Major event those numbers are doubled to 100 (20 points for finishing 1st in the Prelims and 80 for winning the final).

Tour points are important since the Top 8 players on the Tour will automatically be invited to the next tournament.

The finals

Tour points will also be used to determine the players in the Finals, which this time round will be a 10-player round-robin. Each clash in each round will be played as a 4-game mini-match, with two blitz games and Armageddon if the match ends 2:2. The winner of a match that doesn’t go to playoffs gets 3 points, while points are split 2:1 if a playoff is required.

The twist is that players start the tournament with a different number of points based on their performance over the course of the tour – a system similar to that used in the FedEx Cup in golf. The incentive will be much bigger to score the maximum points over the course of the Tour. 

Read full info at

Skilling Open

The first tournament will be played on November 22-30. The organizers have decided to release the name of the participants slowly, with 10 out of 16 names known at the moment.

Skilling Open


  1. Ding Liren
  2. Levon Aronian
  3. Teimour Radjabov
  4. David Anton
  5. Sergey Karjakin
  6. Le Quang Liem
  7. Wesley So
  8. Anish Giri
  9. Jan-Krzysztof Duda
  10. Vidit Gujrathi

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