Speed Chess Championship Expands With $250,000 In Prizes

Speed Chess Championship Expands With $250,000 In Prizes

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39 | Chess Event Coverage

Chess.com expands Speed Chess Championship series with grand prix qualification system and significantly increased prizes.

Palo Alto, Calif., May 10, 2020—Chess.com has announced that it will be expanding its 2020 Speed Chess Championship online tournament series to include a multi-month grand prix qualification system open to all titled players. Collectively, the series will feature a prize fund of $250,000, the largest in online blitz chess. The tournament series will run from June to December and be broadcast live on Chess.com/TV.

The Speed Chess Championship has been the flagship of online chess tournaments for the past two years. The world chess champion GM Magnus Carlsen won the event in 2017, and the five-time U.S. chess champion and world blitz number one GM Hikaru Nakamura won in 2018 and 2019.

Hikaru Nakamura Speed Chess Championship
Hikaru Nakamura is expected to defend his Speed Chess Championship in 2020.

The Speed Chess Championship will expand to include a grand prix qualification system which will see the top four finishers qualify directly into the most prestigious online speed chess event in the world. The Speed Chess Grand Prix will be comprised of over three dozen weekly events in which participants will earn grand prix points based on performance. In addition, the Speed Chess Grand Prix will feature $500,000 in prizes on an annual basis which is expected to attract the best blitz players in the world to each event. The Speed Chess Championship main event will see its prize fund doubled to $100,000 and $100,000 in the prizes will round out the remaining events in the series, including the returning Junior and Women's Speed Chess Championships.

The Speed Chess Championship, Junior Speed Chess Championship and Women's Speed Chess Championship (and the new kid-focused Youth Speed Chess Championship) are knockout tournaments with online matches between some of the best chess players in the world. Nakamura, who successfully defended his crown by defeating GM Wesley So to repeat as 2019 champion, is expected to participate as he attempts to become the first three-time winner in Speed Chess Championship history. Nakamura would face 15 challengers, including seven invited grandmasters, plus eight qualifiers earning their spots through various qualification paths including the Bullet Chess Championship, Premium Arena Series, Women's Speed Chess Championship, Junior Speed Chess Championship and Speed Chess Grand Prix.

The winners of the junior and women's events will also earn a direct berth in the main Speed Chess Championship, which will culminate in a thrilling finals match in December.

Candidates co-leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was a quarterfinalist in the 2019 Speed Chess Championship

The Speed Chess Grand Prix is the newest and most notable addition to the Speed Chess Championship lineup. Each week, an expected field of over 1,000 players will battle for their share of $2,500 in prizes and perhaps more importantly, Speed Chess Grand Prix points. In what will be a hybrid Swiss-knockout tournament modeled in part after the highly-successful Titled Tuesday series, grand prix points will be awarded to top performers and streaming prizes will provide an extra incentive for the world's top stars to engage with their fans.

Ultimately, the top four finishers from the grand prix will qualify directly for the Speed Chess Championship main event. This series of titled-player only tournaments will provide the framework for players from around the world to compete for the highly-coveted Speed Chess Championship title.

With the introduction of the Premium Arena Series as a qualifying path for the Speed Chess Championship main event, players of all skill levels will have the opportunity to improve over time for their shot at going toe-to-toe with the top players in the world in the main event. The expansion of events in the 2020 Speed Chess Championship series means that for the first time, there is a path for household names and newcomers alike to seek out glory and massive cash prizes as they attempt to take the crown from the world's highest-rated blitz player, Nakamura.

The entire tournament series will be broadcast live on Chess.com/TV, with industry-leading production and an all-star cast of commentators. The Online Nations Cup commentary duo of GM Robert Hess and IM Daniel Rensch will team up once again for the main Speed Chess Championship and will be joined by special supergrandmaster guests throughout the tournament. WFM Alexandra Botez, WGM Jen Shahade and other special guests will provide commentary on the Women's Speed Chess Championship.

Alexandra Botez Women's Speed Chess Championship
WFM Alexandra Botez will be part of the commentary team for the Women's Speed Chess Championship.

Commentators for the rest of the tournament series and some special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. The full fields for the tournaments will also be released at SpeedChessChampionship.com when they are available.

Contact:

Chess.com's Esports Department
email: esports@chess.com
phone: (800) 318-2827

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