Grand Chess Tour 2019 gains four new countries

by Macauley Peterson
1/25/2019 – The Grand Chess Tour is expanding in 2019 to eight tournaments. The Your Next Move Blitz and Rapid in Leuven is replaced by tournaments in India, Ivory Coast and Romania and a new classical tournament is planned for Croatia. There will be twelve full GCT participants and a $1.75 Million Prize Fund. | Pictured: London organiser Malcolm Pein hands the GCT 2018 trophy to Hikaru Nakamura | Photo: Grand Chess Tour (Lennart Ootes)

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Paris returns and Bucharest joins

At the close of the London Chess Classic in December, The Grand Chess Tour (GCT) announced plans to expand the tour to at least "six regular-season events" culminating in final matches — the "GCT Finals" in London, as in 2018.

The Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Rapid and Blitz Invitational, held for the first time last year, was seen as a test run for a Grand Chess Tour event and the Tata Steel Chess India brought elite players to Kolkata, India for the first time last Autumn. Both cities will host GCT rapid and blitz events in 2019. An additional classical tournament in Croatia was mentioned but without details. GCT advisor Garry Kasparov has a second home in Croatia, which granted him citizenship in 2014. The Sinquefield Cup remains the other classical tournament.

The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament, which was previously slated to be replaced by the new rapid and blitz events in Africa and Asia, remains on the schedule. The GCT ultimately decided it was better to keep the extra tournament so as to be able to invite a total of fourteen wildcard players across the five rapid and blitz events. Four of the five rapid and blitz tournaments will have seven full tour participants and three wildcards. The remaining tournament will include eight full tour players and two wildcards. Evidently, the GCT will not return to Leuven, Belgium this year, however, they retain the option to rejoin the tour in 2020 if feasible.

2018 mug

Merchandise designed with a Belgian flag could now become collector's items
| Photo: Grand Chess Tour Instagram

The press release and subsequent rumours made clear that additional events were under consideration already for 2019.

GCT 2018 final four

Today we learn that additional rapid and blitz tournaments will be held in Paris, France and Bucharest, Romania. We also have the complete list of invited players and the schedule for the tour.

It's worth noting that the players' list is preliminary; it remains to be seen whether all twelve invited players will sign up to play five tournaments in an increasingly crowded calendar. The finalists from London 2018 (pictured) are likely to return.

Of course, the money will be hard to beat. For instance, the GCT classical tournaments will each carry a prize fund of USD $325,000, divided between the twelve players. By contrast, the recently announced Grand Prix series is expected to have a prize fund for each event less than half as much (EUR €130,000) and divided between 16 players.


Press release

Saint Louis, MO, January 24, 2019 – The fifth edition of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) will see the tour expand to eight tournaments and increase the number of full tour participants to twelve. The tour will also welcome fourteen event level wildcards in 2019. Tour participants will fight for a record prize fund of $1.75 million as the GCT expands its reach to four continents to include tournaments in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. The prize money on offer for the classical tournaments has been increased to $325,000 per event ($90,000 for 1st place and $60,000 for 2nd) while the prize fund for the GCT Finals in London will also be raised to $350,000 ($150,000 for 1st place and $100,000 for 2nd).

The new tournaments will be in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Kolkata (India), Bucharest (Romania) and Zagreb (Croatia). Major sponsors already confirmed for the 2019 season include Vivendi SA, Colliers International, Tata Steel India, St Louis Chess Club and Superbet Group. Gameplan Sports have been appointed as the official sponsorship and branding partner of the tour.

Croatia GCT and the Sinquefield Cup will be classical tournaments with five rapid and blitz tournaments to be held in Abidjan, Paris, St Louis, Bucharest and Kolkata. The GCT Finals will once again be held in London as part of the 2019 London Chess Classic.

The twelve full tour participants will play in both classical events as well as in three of the five rapid and blitz tournaments. The classical events will be expanded to eleven-rounds while the rapid and blitz events will all use the GCT’s traditional ten player formats.

The full schedule for the 2019 regular season (including arrival and departure days) is as follows:

  1. Cote d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz, May 6 - 13, 2019, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
  2. Croatia GCT (Classical), June 24 - July 9, 2019, Zagreb, Croatia
  3. Paris Rapid & Blitz, July 26 - August 2, 2019, Paris, France
  4. St Louis Rapid & Blitz, August 8 - 15, 2019, St. Louis, Missouri USA
  5. Sinquefield Cup (Classical), August 15 - 30, 2019, St. Louis, Missouri USA
  6. Superbet Rapid & Blitz, November 4 - 11, 2019, Bucharest, Romania
  7. Tata Steel India Rapid & Blitz, November 20 - 27, 2019, Kolkata, India
  8. London Chess Classic (GCT Finals), November 30 - December 10, 2019, London UK

Full Tour Participants

The twelve players listed below have been invited to participate as full tour participants of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour. All ratings listed are from the respective ratings lists as at 1 January 2019.

# Name FED URS (Rank) FIDE (Rank) Selection Method
1 Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2859 (1) 2835 (1) URS #1
2 Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2806 (2) 2749 (16) Winner 2018 GCT
3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2796 (3) 2780 (6) Runner-Up 2018 GCT
4 Caruana, Fabiano USA 2794 (4) 2828 (2) 3rd Place 2018 GCT
5 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2792 (5) 2817 (3) URS #2
6 Ding, Liren CHN 2788 (6) 2813 (4) URS #3
7 Aronian, Levon ARM 2782 (7) 2783 (5) URS #4
8 So, Wesley USA 2779 (8) 2765 (11) FIDE Ave Rating #3
9 Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS 2778 (9) 2763 (13) GCT Nominee
10 Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2768 (13) 2777 (7) FIDE Ave Rating #1
11 Giri, Anish NED 2765 (14) 2783 (5) FIDE Ave Rating #2
12 Anand, Viswanathan IND 2761 (16) 2773 (8) FIDE Ave Rating #4

GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Yu Yangyi have been selected as the first and second alternates respectively and will be offered full tour contracts if any of the twelve players above decline their invitations.


Full press release with regulations (PDF)


About

Grand Chess Tour™
The Grand Chess Tour is a circuit of international events, each demonstrating the highest level of organization for the world's best players. The Tour was created in partnership between the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (Sinquefield Cup) and Chess Promotions, Ltd. (London Chess Classic). The legendary Garry Kasparov, one of the world's greatest ambassadors for chess, inspired the Grand Chess Tour and helped solidify the partnership between the organizers. — grandchesstour.org

URS™
The Universal Rating System (URS™), is a revolutionary new sport’s rating system designed to assess the relative strength of participants across a wide variety of competitor vs competitor sports or games. The URS™ was developed as the result of a collaborative research project funded by the Grand Chess Tour, the Kasparov Chess Foundation and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The system is the product of detailed research conducted over more than two years by some of the world’s leading experts in methods of rating chess players. — universalrating.com

Gameplan Sports Pvt. Ltd.   
Set up in 1998, Gameplan Sports Pvt. Ltd. is one of India’s foremost corporate branding agencies, working primarily in the fields of sports and literature. The company presents innovative and cost-effective ideas that give sponsors maximum exposure. Key activities include marketing and management of international and domestic sponsorship rights in India; marketing and management of Indian and international cricket tournaments, player endorsements, syndicating content in print and electronic media, in-stadia advertising, 3-D signs, event management, event promotions, hospitality and memorabilia. – http://gameplan.co.in/




Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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yesenadam yesenadam 1/26/2019 05:27
Awesome! More classical would've been nice...and why the 2 sets of R&B with only a week in between? But on the whole, looks great. Very nice to see some non-usual-suspect places/countries.

p.s. do we have to call it the Grand Chess TourTM and URSTM? That's a bit...ugly.
HappyZappy HappyZappy 1/25/2019 06:22
No Sasha Grichuk?
macauley macauley 1/25/2019 11:47
@rokko - Yes, that's curious, as it was announced in December that it would be. We'll seek to clarify.
rokko rokko 1/25/2019 10:17
There is a St. Louis BLITZ AND RAPID in the calendar. It does not seem to have been replaced!
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