Baku World Cup Takes Off This Friday With Almost All Top GMs

Baku World Cup Takes Off This Friday With Almost All Top GMs

| 44 | Chess Event Coverage

The Sinquefield Cup is just over, but later this week almost all its participants can be found behind the chessboard again — at the Baku World Cup.

Part of the world championship cycle, the FIDE World Cup is held every two years. The previous five world cups were won by Levon Aronian in 2005, Gata Kamsky in 2007, Boris Gelfand in 2009, Peter Svidler in 2011 and Vladimir Kramnik in 2013.

The FIDE World Cup takes place September 10-October 5 in Baku, Azerbaijan — where next year's Olympiad will be held as well. The two finalists will qualify directly for the 2016 Candidates’ Tournament, and the winner of that tournament will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title later that year.

The tournament will be opened tomorrow night, and the first game of the first round is scheduled for this Friday. Each round consists of two classical games (two days), and if necessary one rapid/blitz tiebreak (one day). The final will see four classical games.

The time control of the classical games is the standard FIDE rate of play: 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with a 30-second increment starting from move one.

A tiebreak starts with two rapid games (25 minutes plus 10 second increment), if necessary two more (10 minutes plus 10 seconds), if necessary two blitz games (five minutes plus two seconds). If the score is still even, a sudden-death game follows with five minutes for White, four minutes for Black, a three-second increment from move 61, with Black having draw odds.

The total prize fund is US $1,600,000, which is distributed as follows:

  • Round 1 losers: 64 x US $6,000 (net 4,800) US $384,000
  • Round 2 losers: 32 x US $10,000 (net 8,000) US $320,000
  • Round 3 losers: 16 x US $16,000 (net 12,800) US $256,000
  • Round 4 losers: 8 x US $25,000 (net 20,000) US $200,000
  • Round 5 losers: 4 x US $35,000 (net 28,000) US $140,000
  • Round 6 losers: 2 x US $50,000 (net 40,000) US $100,000
  • Runner-up: 1 x US $80,000 (net 64,000) US $80,000
  • World Cup winner: 1 x US $120,000 (net 96,000) US $120,000

Playing hall
The playing hall is the Grand Ball Room of the Fairmont Hotel, a luxury hotel that is part of the famous Flame Towers. This 190m skyscraper (three buildings) was completed in 2012 and forms a landmark in Baku, with its illuminating LED screens that display the movement of a fire at night time.

The three Flame Towers in Baku.

So, who's playing? Well, a better question would be: who isn't? For example, if we take the 10 participants of the Sinquefield Cup, only Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen are absent! Here's the top 30 in Baku, a truly impressive list:

2015 Baku World Cup | Participants (Top 30)

# Name Fed Rtg Born
1 Topalov, Veselin BUL 2816 1975
2 Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2814 1987
3 Caruana, Fabiano USA 2808 1992
4 Giri, Anish NED 2793 1994
5 Ding, Liren CHN 2782 1992
6 Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2777 1975
7 So, Wesley USA 2773 1993
8 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2771 1983
9 Aronian, Levon ARM 2765 1982
10 Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2762 1990
11 Tomashevsky, Evgeny RUS 2758 1987
12 Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2748 1983
13 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime FRA 2744 1990
14 Adams, Michael ENG 2742 1971
15 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw POL 2741 1987
16 Gelfand, Boris ISR 2741 1968
17 Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2738 1987
18 Harikrishna, Pentala IND 2737 1986
19 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE 2736 1985
20 Wei, Yi CHN 2734 1999
21 Dominguez Perez, Leinier CUB 2732 1983
22 Navara, David CZE 2728 1985
23 Svidler, Peter RUS 2727 1976
24 Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 2726 1969
25 Vitiugov, Nikita RUS 2725 1987
26 Yu, Yangyi CHN 2721 1994
27 Andreikin, Dmitry RUS 2720 1990
28 Eljanov, Pavel UKR 2717 1983
29 Wang, Hao CHN 2712 1989
30 Leko, Peter HUN 2707 1979


A total of 128 players is supposed to come to Baku, including all previous winners mentioned above. The participants qualified as follows (in order of priority): the semi-finalists from the previous world cup, the Women's world champion, the world junior U-20 champions 2013 & 2014, players by rating, players from continental championships, a player from the ACP Tour, two FIDE president nominees, four organizer nominees and three qualifiers from FIDE-approved internet events.

You can find the first round pairings here in PDF or click on the image below. Number one by rating plays number 128, number two faces number 127, et cetera.

Lufthansa strike
What was that “supposed to” about? Well, as it turns out several players are having problems reaching Baku as a result of a strike at Lufthansa. About 1,000 short- and medium-haul flights have been cancelled on Wednesday.

Nakamura is one one of the players affected by the strike, but not too seriously. He told that he could change his itinerary and plans to arrive in Baku on Wednesday night.

How big the issue actually is will probably be more clear on Thursday when a players’ meeting is scheduled. When there's more information, we might add an update to this story.

As mentioned before, the winner and the runner-up will qualify directly for the 2016 Candidates’ Tournament. If one of them happens to be Fabiano Caruana or Hikaru Nakamura (the winner and runner-up of the 2014-2015 Grand Prix), Dmitry Jakovenko, third in the GP, will qualify. (Caruana and Nakamura cannot both reach the final as they are in the same half of the pairings.)

Whatever happens, at the end of the World Cup five of the eight participants of that Candidates’ Tournament will be known: Caruana, Nakamura, two from the World Cup and Vishy Anand, who qualified as the loser of the last world championship match.

The other three are two players who will qualify on rating, and one wild card by the organizer. The rating qualifiers will be decided based on the average of the 12 ratings lists of 2015. Don't miss this excellent article about the current odds.

Speaking of odds, the same Chess by the Numbers website has posted two articles on the World Cup as well.

Caruana: already qualified, already in Baku.

Don't miss's FIDE World Cup Predictions Show on by the ChessBrahs, GMs Eric Hansen and Robin van Kampen Thursday, September 10 at 4pm Pacific, 1am CET, 9am AEST.

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.

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