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Carlsen, So, Caruana To Play Chess.com Speed Chess Champs

Carlsen, So, Caruana To Play Chess.com Speed Chess Champs

if you liked Chess.com's Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship in 2016, we're about to double your pleasure in 2017. Forget March Madness; this is the bracket you'll be obsessing over.

UPDATE: Click here for the complete Round 1 Schedule!

The inaugural Speed Chess Championship has enhanced the field, strengthened the lineup, and increased the prizes. One thing that hasn't changed? GM Magnus Carlsen is back. The man is not complacent!

The world champion won last year's event, and he headlines the field trying to win the reborn and rebranded series, which is scheduled for April to December.

[Edit: The first match is now scheduled; see below!]

Also returning is last year's runner up, GM Hikaru Nakamura, who never met a reduced clock time he didn't like.

With 14 other elite players, the Speed Chess Championship will go down as the strongest chess tournament ever held on the internet.

Click on the bracket for a larger version. 

GM Wesley So and GM Fabiano Caruana have also signed contracts, meaning the world's top three are all accounted for (seven of the world's top 10 will play).

In fact, all dozen invited players are notable, and so they all need mentioning!

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who will play anything from giant chess to three-checks to the PRO Chess League, naturally couldn't resist.


GM Sergey Karjakin, who was within a whisker of dethroning Carlsen in New York in November but did win the world blitz championship a month later, will play on Chess.com for the first time ever.

GM Levon Aronian returns, as does GM Alexander Grischuk, three-time world champion in blitz. Some other newcomers include blitz specialist GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, the always quotable GM Anish Giri, women's number-one GM Hou Yifan, and the chess prodigy, GM Richard Rapport.

The astute reader will notice only 12 names have been given. How can you have a knockout tournament that's not a power of two? You can't!

Four Chess.com members will qualify to round out the field (last year only one earned a spot).

That means to take the title in 2017, you have to win an extra match, and we could potentially see Carlsen four times instead of three. As such, the prize fund goes from $40,000 to $50,000. Mo' money, mo' problems (to be solved amicably on the chessboard, of course).

Since you'll want to set your calendars now and plan a "workday sickness" (ahem, we mean "personal day"), the tentative match dates are below.

Round one:

  • May 3: Hikaru Nakamura vs. Qualifier 3 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • May 24: Sergey Karjakin vs. Qualifier 2 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • May 25: Wesley So vs. Anish Giri at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • July 20: Alexander Grischuk vs Richard Rapport at 10 a.m.noon Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • Aug. 23: Ian Nepomniatchtci vs Levon Aronian at 10 a.m.noon Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • Aug. 24: Fabiano Caruana vs Hou Yifan at 3 p.m. Pacific, 6 p.m. Eastern, midnight Central Europe, 6 a.m. Beijing
  • Aug. 31: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Qualifier 1 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. 7 p.m. Central Europe
  • Oct. 5: Magnus Carlsen vs. Qualifier 4 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central Europe

Round two:

  • Oct. 12
  • Oct. 19
  • Nov. 2
  • Nov. 9

Semifinals:

  • Nov. 16
  • Dec. 7

Championship:

  • Dec. 21

Check this space soon for official dates, times, and matches.

The qualifiers will be on the four Tuesdays in April: the 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. Chess.com will host four Titled Tuesdays instead of the usual one, and the four individual winners earn a qualification spot. If there's a tie in a Titled Tuesday, then there will be an Armageddon game immediately after the event (or a similar blitz tiebreak if more than two are tied).

You can only qualify (or be seeded) once, so if a player already earning a ticket (or being invited) wins a Titled Tuesday, then the second-place person qualifies, and if there are multiple players in second, the same blitz game tiebreakers will apply.

After the month ends, Chess.com will seed these four qualifiers as per their blitz rating on May 1. The lowest-rated of the four qualifiers plays the #1 seed, which is Carlsen. The second-lowest plays the second seed, and so on. 

When the main event begins, here are the prizes:

  • Round 1 (16 players, 8 matches): $16,000. $1,000 to the winner of each match. $1,000 split between match winner and loser by total win percentage.
  • Round 2 (8 players, 4 matches): $12,000. $1,500 to the winner of each match. $1,500 split between match winner and loser by total win percentage.
  • Semifinals, Round 3 (4 players, 2 matches): $12,000. $3,000 to winner of each match. $3,000 split between match winner and loser by total win percentage.
  • Finals, Round 4 (2 players, 1 match): $10,000. $5,000 to the winner, the title of Speed Chess Champion and a trophy with name engraved. $5,000 split between match winner and loser by total win percentage.

Just like last year, the matches will be three hours of nearly non-stop chess. The first segment will again be 90 minutes of 5+2. There will follow 60 minutes of 3+2, followed by 30 minutes of 1+1. Players will be given only a three-minute break between sections and will be on a live webcam at all times. Chess960 remains but this time will occur as the final game in each section, not the beginning game. 

Check Chess.com/news in the coming weeks for more information on this exciting event. 

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