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Magnus Carlsen Top Seed In Paris, Leuven

Magnus Carlsen Top Seed In Paris, Leuven

Magnus Carlsen tops the list of participants in next month's Grand Chess Tour tournaments in Paris (France) and Leuven (Belgium). Details on these events have been published.

After Norway Chess had left the party the Grand Chess Tour welcomed two new guests for this year. Next month the Tour takes off with two identical tournaments held back-to-back in Paris and Leuven, both rapid and blitz, and both with the world's best players. 

As the Grand Chess Tour website informs, the exact dates for the Paris event are 9-12 June. The tournament will be held in the Maison de la Chimie, a congress and conference center located in the rue Saint-Dominique in Paris — quite close to the Eiffel Tower.

Maison de la Chimie. | Image courtesy official website.

The participants are Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Veselin Topalov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Laurent Fressinet. They will be playing for a total prize fund of U.S. $150,000 dollars (132,638). 

Carlsen and Fressinet are the wild cards here. The world champion has chosen not to play all Tour events this year; Fressinet substitutes for Vishy Anand who had already committed himself to play in this year's León tournament. 

There will be two days of rapid and two days of blitz, rather similar to FIDE's schedule of their World Rapid & Blitz tournaments. Instead of 21 there are 18 rounds of blitz with a longer time control: 5+2 instead of 3+2. The rapid will be 25+10.

Paris Rapid & Blitz | Schedule

9 June - Rapid Day 1 11 June - Blitz Day 1
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-5 Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-9
10 June - Rapid Day 2 12 June - Blitz Day 2
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 6-9 Start: 12.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 10-18
Start: 16.30 (GMT+2) Playoffs (If Required)
Start: 20.30 (GMT+2) Prize Giving

Then, on 13 June, the players will travel to Leuven, a city 25 kilometers east of Brussels. The location is arguably even more stunning than in Paris: Leuven's historic town hall.

The official promo video.

There an identical tournament will be played from June 17-20. The participants are Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Veselin TopalovMaxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Viswanathan Anand.

It's almost the same field, except that now Grand Chess Tour “regular” Anand plays instead of Fressinet. Again, Carlsen is the wild card; he will not play in the third event of the Grand Chess Tour: the Sinquefield Cup. (It's not known yet whether he will play in the fourth, in London.) 

The prize fund and schedule are the same:

Leuven Rapid & Blitz | Schedule

17 June - Rapid Day 1 19 June - Blitz Day 1
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-5 Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 1-9
18 June - Rapid Day 2 20 June - Blitz Day 2
Start: 14.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 6-9 Start: 12.00 (GMT+2) Rounds 10-18
Start: 16.30 (GMT+2) Playoffs (If Required)
Start: 20.30 (GMT+2) Prize Giving

Paris will be funded by Colliers International France, a commercial real estate firm whose parent company tallies about $2 billion in revenue each year. Brussels-Leuven is sponsored by Your Next Move, a Belgian non-profit. According to tour spokespeople, these deals were landed through the use of “personal contacts and sponsorship consultants.”

Two more events in the Grand Chess Tour will follow later this year: the Sinquefield Cup (August) and the London Chess Classic (December). These two tournaments keep their $300,000 purse, just as last year.

The overall tour prizes were altered. Gone is the third-place award of $25,000 — that money was lumped on to the first-place check, which goes from $75,000 to $100,000 for the tour champion. Second place overall remains $50,000. The tour thus keeps its $1,050,000 total cash outlay.

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