2018 Grand Chess Tour Invitees, Dates Announced
Magnus Carlsen tops the list of Grand Chess Tour invitees. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2018 Grand Chess Tour Invitees, Dates Announced

| 42 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen, the winner of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, headlines the list of invitees for the 2018 tour. The organizers have announced the 10 invited players and the dates in a press release.

The tour organizers explained their criteria for inviting the players. Interestingly, FIDE ratings were giving higher value than the tour's own Universal Rating System (URS):

  • First, the top three finishers of last year's tour were selected.
  • Then, the three players (not yet selected) with the highest average FIDE rating of the 12 rating lists between  February 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.
  • Then, the three players (not yet selected) with the highest URS rating.
  • One player selected by the GCT Advisory Board.

2018 Grand Chess Tour | Invited Players

# Fed Name Rtg Criteria
1 GM Magnus Carlsen 2834 1st place, 2017 Grand Chess Tour
2 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2793 2nd place, 2017 Grand Chess Tour
3 GM Levon Aronian 2797 3rd place, 2017 Grand Chess Tour
4 GM Fabiano Caruana 2811 1st Average FIDE Classic Rating
5 GM Wesley So 2792 2nd Average FIDE Classic Rating
6 GM Vladimir Kramnik 2787 3rd Average FIDE Classic Rating
7 GM Hikaru Nakamura 2781 1st Universal Rating System
8 GM Alexander Grischuk 2767 2nd Universal Rating System
9 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2804 3rd Universal Rating System
10 GM Viswanathan Anand 2767 GCT Advisory Board Nominee

As the organizers mention in their press release, Anand was selected "after taking account of his status as a former world champion and as the reigning World Rapid Chess Champion."  They also noted that was ranked ninth per the average FIDE ratings, and 11th according to the URS rating list per January 1. 

Compared to last year, two invited players are missing: Sergey Karjakin and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Alexander Grischuk, Vladimir Kramnik and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were not in the initial participants list last year.

However, in case one or more players declines, the door is open for other players. This also means that the possible participation of Garry Kasparov in one of the events cannot yet be fully ruled out. The organizers are planning to finalize the field mid-February.

"If everyone accepts there will not be any wildcard slots," said GCT spokesman Graham Jurgensen. "Tour players must play all events this year. Only if someone declines will wildcards be considered, or replacements. We haven’t decided this as yet."

The dates for 2018:

  • Your Next Move GCT (Rapid & Blitz)
    June 10–17, 2018 | Brussels-Leuven, Belgium
  • Paris GCT (Rapid & Blitz)
    June 17–26, 2018 | Paris, France
  • Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz (Rapid & Blitz)
    August 9–16, 2018 | St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sinquefield Cup (Classical)
    August 16–29, 2018 | St. Louis, Missouri

At this point the exact dates for the 2018 London Chess Classic & GCT Tour Finals have not been confirmed yet, but these events will be held between December 10 and 21.

The allocation of points has been changed somewhat. Because the Sinquefield Cup is the only classical event, more points can be won at this event "to ensure that a suitable balance is maintained between classical chess and rapid and blitz chess," as noted by the organizers.

Also new is that points will be shared equally between tied players in all individual events. There might be playoffs to determine the individual winner of an event, but this won't affect the allocation of points.

Place Sinquefield Cup Rapid & Blitz Events
(based on combined standings)
1st 18/20* 12/13*
2nd 15 10
3rd 12 8
4th 10 7
5th 8 6
6th 6 5
7th 4 4
8th 3 3
9th 2 2
10th 1 1

*Any player who wins an event outright (without the need for a playoff) will earn one extra bonus tour point in a rapid & blitz event and two extra bonus points in the Sinquefield Cup.

Like last year, each rapid & blitz event will have a $150,000 prize fund and the Sinquefield Cup will have a $300,000 prize fund. The final event in London will also have a $300,000 prize fund, which will be split between the top four players. 

Earlier it was announced that the 2018 tour will be decided in a four-player playoff final to be held at the London Chess Classic. Instead of a 10-player classical event there will now be a playoff for the top four players in the GCT standings before London. They will play two semi-final matches with the winners playing a final for the GCT title. A match for third and fourth place will also be played. 

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