2022 Chess Grand Prix: 3 Tournaments, 1 City


FIDE and its partner World Chess announced on Thursday that the 2022 Grand Prix series will consist of three tournaments that will be held between February and April 2022. The top two finishers of the series will qualify for the 2022 Candidates Tournament.

Later this year GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Ian Nepomniachtchi will play for the world title, but the next world championship cycle is already starting to take shape. The new Grand Prix series will be different from before.

For starters, the three tournaments are scheduled in a period of just three months. This way, they can still be held before the next Candidates Tournament, also scheduled for 2022, and possibly another world championship in late 2022 or early 2023, restoring the FIDE calendar that shifted due to the pandemic.

Another change is that all three Grand Prix tournaments will be held in the same city. Although we’re talking about events eight months from now, FIDE and World Chess explain in their press release that it “will make it easier for the chess players to plan their travel schedule amid the pandemic-related travel and visa restrictions.”

2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow chess
The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow. Photo: World Chess.

The GP series will feature 24 players who will compete in two of the three events. Each event has a 150,000-euro prize fund and a 24,000-euro first prize.

Unlike before, when 16 players would play a knockout tournament with two classical games and a tiebreak each round, in the new format (see full regulations here in PDF) each event will consist of a group stage and then a knockout.

In the group stage, four groups of four players will play a double round-robin tournament of six rounds. The rationale of the group stage is that it decreases random results and ensures that the players who consistently perform well move to the next stage.

The qualification criteria to the GP series have been revamped as well, and the number of players selected by event results has been increased: 16 of 24 players qualify by their performances in the FIDE World Cup (next month in Sochi) and Grand Swiss (October-November, Isle of Man). Six players will be selected by rating, and two are nominated by FIDE and World Chess. 

The 2022 GP series is organized by FIDE’s commercial partner, World Chess. After winning the presidential election in 2016, Arkady Dvorkovich expressed his intention to terminate the cooperation as soon as possible, but FIDE is still contractually bound to continue working with World Chess, run by the erratic entrepreneur Ilya Merenzon.

World Chess events in the past have received negative media exposure following some of the actions by Merenzon. For instance, in March 2016 he tried to block traditional chess platforms for relaying the games of the Candidates Tournament live on their site.   

The 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin was problematic for both players and spectators. Early in the tournament, there was just one toilet available for participants—which, according to one player, lacked running water—while the official website for following the event was full of errors.

Berlin 2018 Candidates chess
One aspect of past World Chess events has always been top-notch: their design of the playing hall. Here, the 2018 Berlin Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Under the current agreement between FIDE and World Chess, the world championship match and the Candidates are no longer organized by World Chess. However, the company is still involved in the Grand Prix. The agreement with FIDE will come to an end after the 2022 series.

It is not clear yet where the three tournaments will be held next year. “We are currently on the lookout for the best possible city to hold the series and are so excited to work with the chess fans and ask their opinion of the next chess capital,” said Merenzon. “In the next week, we’ll issue a global call for suggestions and will talk to the chess luminaries and fans around the world to choose this special city.”

One participant of the 2022 Candidates Tournament is already known. GM Teimour Radjabov was given a spot after he had withdrawn from the 2020 Candidates at the start of the pandemic and the tournament was suspended halfway for over a year.

With two qualifiers from the 2022 Grand Prix series, the other five will come from the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi match (the runner-up), two spots from the 2021 FIDE World Cup, and two spots from the 2021 FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Tournament.


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