The world’s top eight chess players have committed to a three-tournament circuit, called the “Grand Chess Tour” with a total prize money of $1,050,000. At an announcement made at the end of April at the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis (CCSCSL), with former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and Grandmaster Nigel Short in attendance, the names of Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Viswanathan Anand (India), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Anish Giri (Netherlands), and Hikaru Nakamura (USA) were confirmed for the 2015 cycle.
Kasparov’s involvement has raised murmurs of it being a breakaway league though the clutch of events that includes Norway Chess, the Sinquefield Cup (held at the club in St. Louis), and the London Chess Classic are expected to follow the FIDE rules and rankings. UK’s Telegraph had reported in February 2015, “The event will be independent of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and is believed to be fronted by chess legend Kasparov.”
The FIDE website makes no mention of the Grand Chess Tour, queering the pitch even more, however the meet will kick off this June.
“I’ve spent my professional life making chess more popular,” the 52-year-old Kasparov told Business Insider, adding, “I want to bring chess to education, something I’ve done with the Kasparov Chess Foundation. And I want to generate more publicity and create a network of tournaments that people can rely on. This has worked for many pro sports, and I’ve always wanted to have it in chess.”
“The Grand Chess Tour was created with just one goal in mind: Demonstrating the highest level of organization for the world’s best players,” Tony Rich, Executive Director of the CCSCSL, said in a statement from St Louis. “Featuring the world’s strongest chess professionals fighting for massive prize funds, along with a full spectator experience led by world-class commentary, this circuit sets forth an internationally coordinated effort that casts a shining spotlight on global chess competition.”
The website added, “According to the organizers, each of the three 2015 Grand Chess Tour events will award individual prize funds of $300,000. Competitors will also tally points toward a tour prize fund of $150,000 and the overall champion will pocket an additional $75,000.”
The need for such a league had been felt for years and though previous Kasparov attempts had failed, the chess legend seems to have persisted with his groundwork after an unsuccesful attempt to dislodge Ilyumzhinov as FIDE president.
“Kasparov said that the Candidates and the WCC still “deliver great excitement,” but he added that final match has only two players, happens only every two years, and that the current World Champion should be compelled to prove his superiority on a regular basis,” the Business Insider noted.