The FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss international chess tournament, opens today, on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom. The venue is the superbly located Comis Hotel & Golf Resort, just a short hop from the island’s capital, Douglas.
Over recent years, chess has been no stranger to the Isle of Man of course, with the Isle of Man International being held each Autumn since 2014. This year sees the event undergoing a little bit of a facelift. It is still a huge swiss, but unlike previous editions, which were opens, the 2019 tournament is closed.
Of the 160 competitors, 100 places are ratings based, then there are 16 places for holders of international titles, (such as Senior World Champions and Under-20’s World Champion, etc.). Of the other 44 places, 1 place is given to a qualifier from the Association of Chess Professionals tour, there are 3 nominees of the FIDE President, and 40 wildcards awarded by the organisers.
All in all, this sees a very strong field, with World Champion, Magnus Carlsen (NOR 2876) and his 2018 challenger, Fabiano Caruana (USA 2812) as top seeds. Wesley So (USA 2767) and Viswanathan Anand (IND 2765) complete the entrants from the current top ten players in the world. They are going to have very tough competition, however, with a further twelve players from the top 30 showing up. In total, there are 21 players rated above 2700.
They will be vying for a share of the $432,500 (£354,217 / €394,490) prize fund. Of this, the winner will net $70,000 (£57,324 / €63,848). The top female finisher will net herself $10,000 (£8,189 / €9,122). Harika Dronavalli (IND 2495) is the ratings favourite when it comes to that, but with the likes of Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL 2479), Elisabeth Paehtz (GER 2489), and Pia Cramling (SWE 2462), around, she will be taking nothing for granted.
Another feature of this inaugural Grand Swiss International, is that it is also a World Championship qualifier, with the winner getting a place for next spring’s Candidates tournament. There are currently 3 of the 8 places allocated. Fabiano Caruana has a place as the losing finalist of the 2018 match, and joining him are Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren, who both get places as the respective winner and finalist of the recent World Cup. As this Grand Swiss tournament concludes, we will have another name and 50% of the candidates places will be filled.
What excites me about that, is that it really is a lottery as to who is going to get that place. Of course, one would have to put the likes of Wesley So, Vishy Anand, Yu Yangyi (CHN 2763), Sergey Karjakin (RUS 2760) and Levon Aronian (ARM 2758) in with a very good chance. However, there is no reason at all to look past Alexander Grischuk (RUS 2759), Pentala Harikrishna (IND 2746), Hikaru Nakamura (USA 2745), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (POL 2748) and Peter Svidler (RUS 2729), also to name but a few.
And with swiss events being the mixed up and unpredictable events that they are, Jeffery Xiong (USA 2708), Baadur Jobava (GEO 2617), Gawain Jones (ENG 2688) and Anton Korobov (UKR 2679) are just a handful of the dark horses, capable of stringing nice results together and taking a big scalp or two.
We should not forget, either, that the two top seeds are not relevant for the candidates place, so it may not be necessary to win the event to net it. I mean no disrespect to anyone, there, I think there are a whole heap of players with the potential to give Carlsen and Caruana a good run in this tournament. I am just saying that if the top two finishers go according to paper, one would be brave to try and predict third. Anyway, for me, that makes it even more exciting when it comes to that aspect of this tournament.
As I said at the start of this piece, the tournament opens today, with round 1 of 11 being played tomorrow at 15:00 local time (check your time here.).
The time control for each game is: ‘100 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes the next 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 1. Draws may not be agreed before black’s move 30.’