A New Beginning: Launches $2m Champions Chess Tour

A New Beginning: Launches $2m Champions Chess Tour

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A record $2 million prize pot will be on offer in the 2023 season of the Champions Chess Tour—making it the richest and most prestigious annual circuit in chess history.

The new season kicks off February 3 with the Airthings Masters; the first of six star-studded tournaments before an eight-player finals event in December.

Hundreds of professional players worldwide will take part in the flagship Champions Chess Tour, played on, before an overall winner is crowned Tour Champion for 2023.

Norway’s GM Magnus Carlsen, two-time Tour winner, the world number-one, and arguably the greatest player in chess history, will defend his title.

Carlsen heads a glittering roster of top stars which includes his great rival GM Hikaru Nakamura and the 2022 Global Championship winner GM Wesley So. Fans can expect all of the world’s best players to be involved.

The launch of the 2023 Champions Chess Tour follows’s acquisition of Play Magnus Group and draws the best format elements from prior seasons of the Champions Chess Tour and top events from including the Global Championship.

Some of these improvements to the competition include open qualifiers and a division system to include more players in the Tour, as well as many innovative format changes designed to maximize excitement and make every match count. 

The new format spans a full season of online chess and comprises six events starting with the Airthings Masters followed by a thrilling knock-out Final. Each event has a prize fund of $235,000. 

A further $100,000 will be awarded to the top ten in the overall standings. The winners of each tournament will get a golden ticket to the $500,000 end-of-year finals in December, with placings on the leaderboard taking the remaining spots.

Airthings, the Norwegian technology company that has become known among Tour fans for the air quality data relayed from players’ homes, returns as the title partner of the Airthings Masters, which will be held for the third time. 

“It’s great to partner with the Champions Chess Tour for a third consecutive year, kicking off the season again with the Airthings Masters,” said Oyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings. “Chess represents a truly global community and remains one of the few universal pastimes. Similarly, air quality is such a constant in our lives that often we forget to think about it, but factors such as CO2, particulate matter, radon, temperature, and humidity have been well-documented to impact our health, well-being, and performance. We look forward to once again helping the best chess players in the world breathe better and play better.” Champions Chess Tour Schedule

The Play-In phase of the Airthings Masters starts February 3 and is open to all grandmasters. Starting February 13, weekly open qualifiers will be held on which are open to all non-GM titled players.

The tournament’s 56-player Knockout phase will follow on February 6-10. The winners of the Play-In phase will be split into three divisions with $30,000 going to the winner of Division I. CEO Erik Allebest said: “This is a new beginning for the chess world online. What we are seeing here is the two great tournaments from last year coming together to form the biggest online chess event in history."

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