Playoffs To Decide 2018 Grand Chess Tour
The 2018 Grand Chess Tour will be decided in a four-player playoff final to be held at the London Chess Classic. This was announced at a press meeting today in London.
The 2017 Grand Chess Tour events—Paris, Leuven, Sinquefield Cup, St. Louis Rapid & Blitz and London—have all been confirmed for next year. The last one will be significantly different.
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.
These matches will consist of three disciplines: classical, rapid and blitz. The players will be playing for an enhanced "GCT Bonus Prize Pool" for which details have not been announced yet.
GCT spokesperson Michael Khodarkovsky noted similar systems in the NBA and the NHL which also have a knockout format in their respective playoffs.
"The purpose is to make chess more exciting and dynamic, and create an opportunity for fans and sponsor to see a different type of formats. We'll see whether it works. This format helps us to make chess more exciting and hopefully more sponsors will come in the future."
Malcolm Pein, the Director of the London Chess Classic, added: "We were experimenting with a similar format for the British Knockout and it was the most incredible match I've ever seen."
He also noted that this way the London Chess Classic will be enhanced in many respects. "There were several scenarios where someone could decide the GCT before we'd arrive in London. That won't happen anymore."
The top three players from the 2017 Grand Chess Tour will automatically qualify for the 2018 Tour. The rest of the tour roster will be selected on the basis of the GCT's Universal Ratings System on January 1, 2018 and average classical FIDE ratings in 2017.
According to Khodarkovsky there should be enough time between the world championship (scheduled for 9-28 November 2018, also in London) and the London Chess Classic so that theoretically the two contestants could play.
How to make make sure of their participation? "Get them to sign a contract a long time in advance," said Pein with a smile.