New format for Grand Chess Tour 2018

12/10/2017 – The organisers of the Grand Chess Tour announced changes to the format for 2018, including a new format for next year's London Chess Classic. The traditional classical tournament will be replaced by a semi-final and final held in mid-December that will combine classical, rapid and blitz chess over six days. The change is being made to make the tour final more dynamic, accentuate the purpose of the GCT's "Universal Rating" system (combining all three disciplines) and avoid conflict with the World Championship which will be also held in London from November 9th to 28th. | Pictured: Malcolm Pein, Michael Khodarkovsky, and Tony Rich | Photo: Pascal Simon

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London to host Grand Chess Tour Finals

Press Release

The 2018 Grand Chess Tour will conclude with an exciting new format at the London Chess Classic. The four top‑scoring players will contest a semi-final and final that will determine the overall winner and top four places in the 2018 GCT. The format change has been determined by the GCT Advisory Board and was announced earlier today during the 8th and penultimate round of the London Chess Classic.
The revised 2018 GCT schedule will see the GCT players participating in three rapid and blitz events as well as the traditional Sinquefield Cup which will maintain its classical format. Four players will proceed to the 2018 GCT Finals in London where they will battle for an enhanced GCT Bonus Prize Pool. Each match in London will consist of classical, rapid and blitz games. A play-off for 3rd and 4th will also be played.
The GCT has also confirmed that the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Chess Promotions Ltd, Colliers International France, Vivendi S.A. and Your Next Move™ have all agreed to renew their financial commitments to the tour for 2018. GCT tournaments are therefore confirmed for the cities of Paris, Leuven, St Louis and London in 2018.
The top three players from the 2017 GCT tour will automatically qualify for the 2018 GCT Tour players’ roster. The rest of the tour roster will be selected on the basis of URS ratings at January 1, 2018 and average classical FIDE ratings in 2017.

About the 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.
About the 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.

Video of announcement

Malcolm Pein, Michael Khodarkovsky, and Tony Rich made the announcement and took questions beginning shortly after 16:00 London-time in the live commentary room at the London Chess Classic.


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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/12/2017 03:45
@ : "another bs to prop up overrated Magnus Carlsen" Oh ! so interesting ! But rather "mysterious", I must say ! Quite a pity you didn't explain how Carlsen is overrated !

Perhaps Professor Arpad Elo designed his rating system specially for overrating Carlsen ? (Yes, Arpad Elo died when Carlsen was only 2 years old, but we musn't let such trifles stop us...) Or perhaps Carlsen's opponents lose on purpose when playing him ? Still, perhaps I am missing an even more interesting possible explanation ; we would all be very interested to hear your (certainly...) quite groundbreaking theories on this question !
FlannDefence FlannDefence 12/12/2017 08:20
Watching that play-off blitz last night was exciting, undeniably, but not to be taken seriously of course. In the real chess world, Caruana and Nepomniatchi tied first in the London Classic. The immediate problem is that in attempting to make chess a gigantic global sporting cash cow you will alienate those who care while striving for a mass chess viewing audience that never has or will exist. 12/12/2017 06:13
WOW another bs to prop up overrated Magnus Carlsen.
Angelo Pardi Angelo Pardi 12/11/2017 11:52
So London Classic is dead...
AMCA AMCA 12/11/2017 09:26
There is no real answer to the high percentage of draws in top-class events, such as the GCT or World Championship matches. It’s an inevitable result of very high standards being set by very strong, equally matched players.

Rather than introducing quickplay chess, it may be better to invite different players on to the tour to give more variety. You have four qualifiers for each event, for instance. Logistically, I’m not sure how easy that is for the organisers.

I think the same players facing each other all the time probably increases the likelihood of drawn games and actually is not that great for the spectators.
peterfrost peterfrost 12/11/2017 07:26
I agree completely with the view expressed by @The_Jeh. Recent changes to the GCT, in particular it's excessive "speeding up" with a strong move towards rapid and blitz and away from classical chess, are unnecessary and detrimental to the game. Given that genuine chess seems destined to be sacrificed at the altar of cheap populism in the GCT, I will take care to pay it very little attention, and direct my focus towards tournaments where the integrity of the game is still respected.
The_Jeh The_Jeh 12/11/2017 01:44
At least we still have the Sinquefield Cup as a self-contained classical event. Sorry that the London Chess Classic is being turned into a farce. Mistakes in a classical game are interesting, but mistakes induced by ridiculous time controls are just artificial. Khodarkovsky says the change is to make the game more exciting, but that comes from a confused notion of what excitement is. In professional chess, the excitement comes from watching the human mind being pushed to the furthest depths of thoughtfulness. It doesn't come from mere swiftness of play. Chess is supposed to act as the world's savior from its modern attention deficit, not kowtow to it.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/11/2017 12:19
@ fgkdjlkag : "I would rather a move to FischerRandom or another form of chess." To develop "FischerRandom or another form of chess" besides chess, why not, obviously, but "FischerRandom or another form of chess" wouldn't be the same game, so I don't see why you would REPLACE one by the others. And I am not at all of the opinion that chess is menaced before long by a "death by draws".

You say : "You admit that the draws would reduce by inviting weaker players. Is that the best way to solve the problem?", as if the answer (negative, obviously) was included in the question. I haven't a strong personal opinion on this, but, in fact, why couldn't it be a good thing to include, for example, some 2600+ GMs in an elite event ? If it seems obvious to you this is absurd, it isn't obvious to me ! And, personally, I find that, very frequently, games between 2750+ or 2800+ GMs and 2600+ GMs are very interesting (and, furthermore, as the highest rated player really NEEDS to win, and pushes very hard, sometimes, he pushes TOO hard, and the lowest rated player wins, so the game's result isn't obvious at all...).
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 12/10/2017 11:42
@fons, the reason there are so many draws among top players is a function of the game; it is just not possible to distinguish players' ability. You admit that the draws would reduce by inviting weaker players. Is that the best way to solve the problem? I would rather a move to FischerRandom or another form of chess.

It is up to the organizers of the GCT events to accept the conditions, including the defined players. If they are going to have trouble finding sponsors, they could have declined to be a host. Also they might find it easier to find sponsors because of the branding of the GCT.

The top players in all fields make much more money than they need; chess is not unique.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 12/10/2017 10:22
As I understand it, it goes like this

Classical: Winner 1p Draw 1/2p Losing 0p
Rapid: Winner 1/2p Draw 1/4p Losing 0p
Blitz: Winner 1/4p Draws 1/8p Losing 0p

Day 1 - 1 game Classical
Day 2 - 1 game Classical
Rest day
Day 3 - 2 games Rapid
Day 4 - 2 games Rapid
Rest day
Day 5 - 4 game Blizt
Day 6 - 4 game Blitz
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/10/2017 10:01
"combine classical, rapid and blitz chess over six days"
What a joke. Rapid and blitz? Come on.
fons fons 12/10/2017 06:32
In a previous article I said I had never been in favor of this "Grand Chess Tour" concept from the beginning for a variety of reasons:

"I don't want to see the exact same handful of players every single time.
Forcing organizers to invite only certain players makes it harder to find sponsors.
The up and coming players never get their chance.
Making a living from chess is hard so why give more money to the only players that don't actually need it?
Too many draws when only the very top play each other.
Chess fans don't care for this Grand Chess Tour ranking anyway.
Chess is not tennis, or football, or whatever else they want to compare it to to justify this GCT.

I'm sure I can come up with more."

Let's add "Universal Rating" system to the list.

(I guess they "fix" the draw problem by making it all rapid and blitz, again not a trend I am totally in love with.)
ChessSpawn49 ChessSpawn49 12/10/2017 06:08
New ratings system backed by a billionaire in St. Louis and Gary Kasparov.......leading to......replacement of FIDE's rating system......leading to.........a new way of creating a ranking for the number one player(s) in the world.......leading to......FIDE becoming a dunsel organization with no need to exist.......leading to a new world governing/sanctioning body in private hands with no need of FIDE? One can hope and dream........