Grand Chess Tour: Carlsen, Nakamura Only As Wildcards

Grand Chess Tour: Carlsen, Nakamura Only As Wildcards

| 61 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura are not among the main participants of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The two biggest stars of (online) chess might still participate as wildcards. The organizers announced the full field of participants on Wednesday.

The 2020 Grand Chess Tour was canceled altogether due to the coronavirus. Although the pandemic is far from over, the organizers remain optimistic. For 2021, five events have been scheduled, and the 10 regular participants have been announced.

All 10 players who had been invited for the 2020 season were invited again, but this time Carlsen and Nakamura declined to be full-tour participants. The busy schedule of the online Champions Chess Tour likely plays a role here, while it's also a world championship year for Carlsen. The two stars were replaced by GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov.

2021 Grand Chess Tour participants

# Standard # Rapid # Blitz Fed Name Standard rating Age
1 11 38 Caruana, Fabiano 2823 28
2 3 8 Ding, Liren 2791 28
3 9 10 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2789 30
4 2 3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2784 30
5 8 29 Aronian, Levon 2781 38
6 7 14 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 37
7 13 36 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2770 35
8 21 4 So, Wesley 2770 27
9 14 20 Radjabov, Teimour 2765 33
10 25 24 Giri, Anish 2764 26

Virus permitting, this year the tour will consist of the following five events:

  • Superbet Chess Classic: June 3-15, 2021, Bucharest, Romania
  • Paris Rapid & Blitz: June 16-23, 2021, Paris, France
  • Croatia Rapid & Blitz: July 5-12, 2021, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: August 9-16, 2021, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
  • Sinquefield Cup: August 16-28, 2021, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.

The 10 full-tour participants will play in both classical events as well as in two of the three rapid and blitz tournaments. The wildcard participants for the three rapid and blitz events scheduled for Paris, Zagreb, and Saint Louis will be announced as they become available and might include Carlsen and Nakamura.

The 2021 season will feature the same five tournaments and format that was originally planned for the 2020 edition of the tour. The participants will compete for a total prize fund of $1.275 million over the course of the 2021 season.

The prize money for the two classical tournaments will be $325,000 per event, while the prize fund for the rapid and blitz events will be $150,000 each. In addition, a bonus prize fund totaling $175,000 will be awarded to the top three overall tour finishers.

The major sponsors of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour are the Superbet Foundation, Vivendi SA, Colliers International, and the Saint Louis Chess Club.

There will not be a "GCT Finals" tournament in 2021; the final tour standings will be decided based on the GCT points each tour player accumulates over the course of the five tournaments.

According to the organizers, GCT event dates have been coordinated with FIDE to avoid conflicts with FIDE’s major events. However, there is a tiny overlap with the Champions Chess Tour. The sixth online "regular" overlaps one day with the Sinquefield Cup. 

You can find all upcoming major events in 2021 at

Update: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that the fifth online "regular" overlaps for two days with the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz. 

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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