Paris, Leuven and 17 Chess Players
Paris is once again home to the first stop of the Grand Chess Tour from 21-25 June. Then, almost immediately after that from 28 June-2 July we have the second leg in Leuven, Belgium.
The Grand Chess Tour consists of 5 fixtures this year: 2 classical tournaments (Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Clasic) and 3 rapid and blitz events (these two and Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz). Ten players compete in every stage and the total prize fund is a staggering $1,2 milion.
Nine "Tour Regulars" will play both classical contests and two of the three faster time controls. In each, they will be joined by various wildcards. So, let's meet the participants:
Paris is where it all "stars"! And what better place to start?
World Champion Magnus Carlsen will play alongside blitz specialist Hikaru Nakamura, World Blitz Champion Sergey Karjakin, U.S Champion Wesley So, French no.1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the always-surprising Fabiano Caruana. The four invited wild cards will be spectacular as well: Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Veselin Topalov and local Etienne Bacrot.
You can expect anything from this line-up! They will battle up in 9 rounds of 25 minutes + 10 seconds delay (round-robin) and 18 rounds of 5 minutes + 3 seconds delay (double round-robin), though rapid games count as double with 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw.
Carlsen is probably the favourite considering how well he has done in the Norway Blitz but you can't count off any of these grand-masters!
Lovely Lively Leuven!
"Your Next Move" is the name of the second stop of the Grand Chess Tour!
Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave move in Belgium three days after playing in France. They will be joined by three other tour participants: former world champion Vishy Anand, scariest man in chess at the moment Levon Aronian and newcomer Ian Nepomniatchi. The four wildcards are as dangerous as it can get: Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Vassily Ivanchuk and Baadur Jobava!
Can you get a line-up as aggresive as this one? I doubt it! We all know Chucky (Ivanchuk) has a special place in Magnus' nightmares beating him numerous times, the most recent ones in Doha 2016 in rapid (where he also became the champion) and in blitz. And let's not forget Jobava, arguebly the most exciting player of the planet! They are playing the same format as in Paris.
Is Chucky going to defeat Magnus once again?
Out of the 17 players playing in these two events, 8 are in the top 10 in the Rapid Rankings, while 16 are in the top 40! As for the blitz 12 are in top 20 and again 16 are in top 40!
The chess fans are going to be delighted! It's everything to play for!
Which line-up do you consider to be more exciting? Leave your comments down below!