FIDE Grand Prix Starts New World Champs Cycle

FIDE Grand Prix Starts New World Champs Cycle

| 27 | Chess Event Coverage

On Saturday, the first round of the Sharjah Grand Prix will be played. With this first of four Grand Prix tournaments, the 2017-2018 world championship cycle takes off.

Photo: Anastasia Karlovich.

The new Grand Prix series consists of four legs (to be held in Sharjah, Moscow, Geneva and Palma de Mallorca) and will deliver two players for next year's Candidates' Tournament.

The other qualifiers will come from the last title match (Sergey Karjakin), the 2017 World Cup, by rating and as wildcards. The winner of the Candidates' will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the world title at the end of 2018.

In an earlier report all 24 participants of the Grand Prix series were mentioned. Each player plays three of the four tournaments.

This week chess journalist and World Chess correspondent Dylan McClain shared with the names of the six players who are not going to be in Sharjah: Anish Giri, Pentala Harikrishna, Peter Svidler, Ernesto Inarkiev, Boris Gelfand, and Teimour Radjabov.

This automatically leads to the following list of participants. (Update: note that, at the last minute, Wei Yi was replaced by Hou Yifan.)

2017 Sharjah GP Participants

# Fed Name Elo Rank
1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2796 5
2 Levon Aronian 2785 7
3 Hikaru Nakamura 2785 8
4 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2766 11
5 Ding Liren 2760 12
6 Pavel Eljanov 2759 13
7 Michael Adams 2751 16
8 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2749 17
9 Alexander Grischuk 2742 20
10 Li Chao 2720 30
11 Evgeny Tomashevsky 2711 34
12 Dmitry Jakovenko 2709 36
13 Francisco Vallejo Pons 2709 38
14 Richard Rapport 2692 50
15 Alexander Riazantsev 2671 77
16 Salem Saleh 2656 99
17 Hou Yifan 2651 105
18 Jon Ludvig Hammer 2628 128

These 18 players will play a nine-round Swiss. This is a big difference with the previous GP tournaments, which were 14-player round robins, similar to the Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee. A few participants commented to about this change.

Peter Svidler: "I'll be watching Sharjah with great interest, not just due to the excellent line-up, but also because the format is untested, and it will be important for me to see how this extreme small-field Swiss will work, in particular in terms of pairings for the later rounds.

Purely as a spectator, though, I'd be very happy with the format—it gives exposure (and a chance to qualify) to more people than the previous one, and that can only be a good thing."

Boris Gelfand: "I am happy that the Grand Prix is going to take place as it is a fair qualification system and adds four NEW (!) tournaments to the calendar. Practice will tell how good is this new system."

Teimour Radjabov: "I think the new format is interesting. We will see how it's going to be, but it should be exciting with many fighting games for the two spots. In short: It looks exciting! "

Jon Ludvig Hammer: "I think the idea of having the GP as Swisses is excellent. I am always in favor of more diversity in the player fields. If possible, I think 32 players, with 24 playing each tourney, would be even better, but I understand it’s all a question of funding."

Francisco Vallejo: "Basically, I don't care about the format. I want to try to play my best chess against strong opponents; that's all I care about right now."

The time control in the GP tournaments is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The first leg, in Sharjah, will be held February18-27 (with a rest day on the 23rd) at the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club. The first prize is €20,000; the total prize fund is is €130,000. 

In 2014 a women's Grand Prix was held in Sharjah as well. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

The live broadcast of the commentary and the transmission of the games will be at Commentary will be provided by GM Viktor Bologan, Tyler Schwarz and's Peter Doggers.

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