FIDE Grand Prix Starts Friday In Moscow
The logo of the Moscow Grand Prix. | Image: World Chess.

FIDE Grand Prix Starts Friday In Moscow

| 59 | Chess Event Coverage

It's the beginning of the new world championship cycle, and it's starting tomorrow. The first leg of the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series will be officially opened on Thursday in Moscow and the first round is on Friday.

The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series consists of four tournaments, with 16 players each. A total of 22 players will compete, and the top two finishers in the overall standings will qualify for the 2020 Candidates' Tournament. The winner of that tournament will be the new challenger of Magnus Carlsen in a title match scheduled for November 2020.

Below are the 16 participants of the first leg that starts tomorrow. Except for the last seed, who happens to be the reigning world rapid champion, all participants are rated above 2700, which makes this series the strongest Grand Prix ever held.

2019 FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Participants

# Rank Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 4 Giri, Anish 2787 1994
2 5 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2781 1985
3 8 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2773 1990
4 9 Grischuk, Alexander 2772 1983
5 10 Aronian, Levon 2762 1982
6 11 Nakamura, Hikaru 2761 1987
7 12 Radjabov, Teimour 2759 1987
8 13 So, Wesley 2754 1993
9 16 Karjakin, Sergey 2752 1990
10 20 Svidler, Peter 2739 1976
11 22 Wei, Yi 2736 1999
12 24 Vitiugov, Nikita 2734 1987
13 28 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2728 1998
14 29 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2724 1987
15 32 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2708 1983
16 48 Dubov, Daniil 2690 1996

Moscow FIDE Grand Prix 2019 press conference
Thursday's press conference in Moscow. | Photo: WorldChess.

This first Grand Prix takes place May 17-29 at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. The pairings for the first round are Giri-Dubov, Radjabov-Nakamura, Duda-So, Karjakin-Grischuk, Nepomniachtchi-Aronian, Wei Yi-Jakovenko, Vitiugov-Svidler and Wojtaszek-Mamedyarov.

The other three Grand Prix tournaments are:

  • Riga/Jurmala, Latvia (July 11–25)
  • Hamburg, Germany (November 4–18)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (December 10–24)

Daniil Dubov is the organizer's nominee for not just Moscow, but also for the tournaments in Riga/Jurmala and Hamburg, per the decision of WorldChess. As a result, there are 22 total participants in this Grand Prix series instead of the originally intended 24. Everyone plays in three of the four legs.

The six participants who are not in Moscow but will be playing in the other three tournaments are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Yu Yangyi (China), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), David Navara (Czech Republic), Pentala Harikrishna (India) and a player that will be nominated by the Israeli Chess Federation to play in Tel Aviv.

The players were selected on average ratings based on the FIDE Elo lists between February 2018 and January 2019. Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Vladimir Kramnik, Ding Liren and Viswanathan Anand were all entitled to play as well, but declined.

Each of the four tournaments has a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($145,510). Prizes for the overall standings in the series total 280,000 euros ($313,405), making the total prize fund of the series 800,000 euros ($895,444).

Prizes and GP points

Stages # players Prizes (euros) Prizes per stage GP Points*
Round 1 8 5,000 40,000 0
Round 2 4 8,000 32,000 1
Semifinals 2 10,000 20,000 3
Runner-up 1 14,000 14,000 5
Winner 1 24,000 24,000 8
Total 16 130,000

*Note that a player gets one additional GP Point for every match won without tiebreak.

This year's Grand Prix series will be quite different from previous ones. The format of the tournament is a knockout, somewhat similar to the last four rounds of the FIDE World Cup: two classical games, and if necessary a tiebreak on the third day, followed by a new round of two classical games and a tiebreak and so on.

This change is likely going to make the four events more exciting than last time, when all of them were following the Swiss pairings system, with little tension and excitement going on especially in the first two legs. The chess fans were not exactly hooked to their screens, and it's good to see that WorldChess is trying to improve here.

FIDE Grand Prix Moscow 2019 logo
Read more about the new designs from WorldChess here.

According to the regulations (here in PDF; WorldChess mentions a different time control, by the way) the time control for the classical games in the Grand Prix is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The tiebreaks consist of two games at 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment; in case of a tie two more games at 10 minutes + 10 seconds increment; in case of another tie two more games at five minutes + three seconds increment; and if the score is still level, one sudden death game is played where White gets five minutes vs. four minutes for Black (with a two-second increment for both after move 60) with Black having draw odds.

The games start each day at 3 p.m. Moscow time, which is 14:00 CEST, 8 a.m. Eastern and 5 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games here as part of our live portal. The official site is here.

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.”

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