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Thursday, 10 Oct 2019 12:27
FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss officially opened on the Isle of Man


The quest for the next challenger to take on Carlsen

The inaugural FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss was officially opened at the Comis Hotel near the Isle of Man capital, Douglas. Altogether 154 top world chess players, from 42 countries, are taking part in a competition which will decide the final qualifier for the Candidates tournament determining the challenger for the title of the World Champion

Delivering the initial speech at the opening ceremony, tournament director Alan Ormsby pointed out that the traditional Isle of Man tournament was ‘a natural fit’ for the Grand Swiss, and that it made sense for it to become part of the official world championship cycle. “Discussions with Emil Sutovsky, FIDE Director General, commenced 10 months ago and it soon became clear that the Isle of Man tournament was a natural fit for the Grand Swiss and that we should make a bid to host the event”, Ormsby said.

He also emphasized the importance of a great number of wild-cards given to the organizers, as they helped increase the number of women participants at the event.

“It seems amazing to me that in the space of 5 years, our event has gone from a small open Tournament with a budget of £50,000, to the one that is now part of the World Championship Cycle with a budget of well over $1m with a seat into the Candidates”, Ormsby added. He also thanked the Scheinberg family for their continuous support of the event over the years.

In his address at the opening ceremony, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich stated the importance of this tournament for the global chess community and complimented the organizers, who have now partnered with FIDE to make this event a part of the official world championship cycle.

“We are taking our risks with this first tournament based on the Swiss System and that will identify the player who will play in the candidates’ tournament. We truly believe that the combination of events played according to different systems provides a framework for identifying those who will challenge the World Champion… It is very unusual that the World Champion and the runner up are participating in the qualifying event, but it makes this event even more interesting”, Dvorkovich said.

The FIDE president also emphasized the importance of giving a chance to more women players to play at the event, arguing that this “shows a truly open nature of our approach”. He also thanked the Isle of Man government for their involvement, adding that the whole chess community will be focused on this important event.

Dvorkovich: A new approach to organizing chess events

FIDE President Dvorkovich, who has just reached his first anniversary as the head of the organization, announced a new approach to organising chess events: “With the help of platforms such as Chess.com and others, we will be able to provide access to more people to chess from all around the world.”

Dvorkovich said that “at some point, we will have qualification events based on online systems” and that this event supported by Chess.com is “one of the examples of going in the right direction”.

Why more politicians should take up chess

Stating that he has been “a personal supporter of the island’s chess tournament for a number of years”, The Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK said that it has been “a joy to watch the event grow” and reach a stage where it’s rightly to be the strongest tournament of its type ever held.

The Chief Minister stressed that the Isle of Man has the oldest continuous parliament in the world, and expressed hope that it will also have stronger chess players: “We may not have the world’s yet greatest chess champions, but who knows, they might climb up the ranks”.

During his speech, the minister quoted the English chess player and journalist Bill Hartston who said: ‘Chess doesn’t drive people mad, it keeps mad people sane’. “And that’s why I encourage so many of my political colleagues to take up the game”, Howard Quayle said. He had also invited the players to explore the island, pointing out that the Isle of Man it “the only entire nation in the world to have been awarded the UNESCO biosphere status, not just for our land but also all our territorial waters, acknowledging the unique balance of man and our stunning natural environment”.

The players and the games

In the next 12 days (from the 10 to 21 October), the Isle of Man will be at the center of attention of the chess world, where over 150 top-rated players will be competing for the last remaining place for the Candidates’ Tournament. With an average player rating of 2637, this is likely to be one of the strongest chess events ever held.

Interestingly, both the World Champion Magnus Carlsen, as well as world No 2, Fabiano Caruana (who has already qualified for the Candidates) are competing, but their goal is the 1st prize of $70,000. The event has an impressive overall prize fund of $433,000.

Those competing for the place in the Candidates’ are led by Welsey So, Viswanathan Anand, Yu Yangyi and Sergey Karjakin who are at the top of the list of over 150 top world-class GMs. The games will be played every day save the 16th, from 3 PM at the Comis Hotel near the Isle of Man capital, Douglas. The last round will be played on the 21st of October from 11.30. 

Round 1 Pairings (top boards):

1       Carlsen Magnus 2876         Kuzubov Yuriy 2636    
2       Zhang Zhong 2636         Caruana Fabiano 2812    
3       So Wesley 2767         Moiseenko Alexander 2635    
4       Najer Evgeniy 2635         Anand Viswanathan 2765    
5       Yu Yangyi 2763         Mareco Sandro 2634    
6       Abasov Nijat 2632         Karjakin Sergey 2760    
7       Grischuk Alexander 2759         Jumabayev Rinat 2630    
8       Tari Aryan 2630         Aronian Levon 2758    
9       Harikrishna Pentala 2748         Alekseev Evgeny 2629    
10       Bachmann Axel 2629         Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2748    


Official website 

Photo: John Saunders

IOM International Chess Limited:
Tournament Director Alan Ormsby 
masters@iominternationalchess.com 
+44 7624 453200

Chess.com:
Director of Esports and Events Nick Barton
nick@chess.com +1 8326223010

FIDE:
Chief Communications Officer David Llada 
press@fide.com +34 680312625