The 2020 Chess Calendar was laid to waste by the coronavirus epidemic, though the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and other online events rose from the ashes. 2021 is guaranteed to see the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour played out in monthly events until the Grand Final in September, but if the virus permits it’s a year that could also see the Candidates Tournament completed, a World Championship match, two World Cups, two Grand Swisses, the Grand Chess Tour and much more.

Current and upcoming tournaments:

January 2021

January 16 – 31 | Tata Steel Masters | Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands

This year’s 83rd edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament has been cut to just the main event due to COVID-19, but if everything goes as planned that will still mean a 14-player round-robin featuring Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from the world’s Top 5 and a host of young talents that include 17-year-old Alireza Firouzja.

Links: official websitechess24

January 18 – 29 [POSTPONED – provisionally to Late February] | FIDE Women’s Grand Prix | Gibraltar

The 4th and final stage of the 2019-2020 FIDE Grand Prix is taking place in the Caleta Hotel venue that would normally host the Gibraltar Masters, impossible this year due to travel restrictions. After the 12-player event ends we’ll know the two players who qualify to the next FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament, which is pencilled in for the first quarter of the year.

Links: official website

January 23 – 31 [POSTPONED] | Moscow Open | Moscow, Russia

A big, traditional open with a myriad of separate events.

Links: official website

February 2021

February 6 – 14 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 3 | chess24

The 3rd stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the second Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

March 2021

March 13 – 21 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 4 | chess24

The 4th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the second Major, with 12 players and a $200,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

March 27 – 28 | Chess Bundesliga Rounds 9-10 | Germany

The 2019/2020 German Chess League was suspended after 8 rounds due to the coronavirus. The provisional plan is to complete the rounds in 2021 over three weekends.

Links: official website, chess24

April 2021

Spring 2021 | Candidates Tournament Rounds 8-14 | Yekaterinburg, Russia

The Candidates Tournament that will decide Magnus Carlsen’s next World Championship challenger was started in March 2020 despite a pandemic beginning to take hold around the world. The worst fears of Teimour Radjabov and others proved justified when the event had to be stopped halfway, with Teimour’s late replacement Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joining Ian Nepomniachtchi in the lead. The saga of trying to resume the event has dragged on ever since, with the outcome still uncertain.

Links: official website, chess24

April 1 – 5 | GRENKE Chess Open | Karlsruhe, Germany

The massive GRENKE Chess Open was the kind of event that was never going to be possible to hold in 2020. The prospects for 2021 are unclear, but if it is held it’ll again take place over the Easter weekend – Easter Sunday is April 4th. The hope is to accompany it with the GRENKE Chess Classic super-tournament, which from 2017-2019 was won by Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen.

Links: official website

April 10 – 18 | 20th Bangkok Chess Club Open | Thailand

The Bangkok Chess Club Open was postponed and then cancelled as global air traffic shut down in 2020. 2-time Champion Jan Gustafsson will be among those hoping things go better in 2021.

Links: official website

April 24 – May 2 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 5 | chess24

The 5th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the 3rd Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

April 24 – 25 | Chess Bundesliga Rounds 11-12 | Germany

The 2nd of three weekends on which the 2019-2020 German Chess League is planned to be completed, with matches taking places in different cities around Germany.

Links: official website

May 2021

May 14 – 16 | Chess Bundesliga Rounds 13-15 | Berlin, Germany

The planned climax for the 2019-2020 German Chess League would see all the teams once again converging on Berlin for the three final rounds.

Links: official website

May 22 – June 2 | European Individual Championship | Reykjavik, Iceland

The Reykjavik Open had to be cancelled in 2020 while in 2021 the plan is for the main event of the Festival to serve as the European Championship, potentially boosting the prestige of a tournament that has largely been viewed as a qualifier for the World Cup.

The event has already been postponed once because of the virus situation. If it can’t be held at these dates the ECU say it may be postponed again to August/September, with players qualifying for the 2023 World Cup instead.

Links: official website

May 23 – 31 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 6 | chess24

The 6th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the third and final Major, with 12 players and a $200,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

May 31 – June 13 | European Women’s Chess Championship | Mamaia, Romania

This 11-round open determines the 2021 European Women’s Champion and also qualification spots for the Women’s World Cup.

Links: official website

June 2021

June 4 – 15 | Superbet Chess Classic | Bucharest, Romania

The 1st event on the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, which plans to follow the cancelled plan for 2020 of having five events and no Grand Final. The tournament in Bucharest is a 12-player classical event featuring all the main tour players, with a $325,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour

June 17 – 22 | Paris Rapid & Blitz | Paris, France

The 2nd leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour

June 17 – 26 | Prague Chess Festival | Prague, Czech Republic

The 2nd edition of the Prague Masters, won by Alireza Firouzja, was the last major chess tournament to be completed in 2020 before the virus shut down chess life. A 3rd edition, again with a Masters, Challengers and Open, is planned for 2021, but the dates have been pushed back to June due to the virus situation.

Links: official website   

June 26 – July 4 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 7 | chess24

The 7th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the 4th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

July 2021

July 5 – 12 | Croatia Rapid & Blitz | Zagreb, Croatia

The 3rd leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour

July 10 – August 6 | FIDE World Cup | Sochi, Russia

An expanded 206-player World Cup knockout tournament is provisionally planed to start in Sochi on July 10th, with the 50 top seeds starting their campaigns from Round 2. The prize fund has been raised to $1.89 million, with the two finalists both qualifying for the next Candidates Tournament. The final is this time cut from four games to two, the same length as all the other rounds (with rapid and blitz playoffs in case of a tie).

A Women’s World Cup is planned to be held at the same time with 103 players, a $676,000 prize fund and three places in the Women’s Candidates Tournament at stake.

Links: FIDE

July 13 – 18 | Sparkassen Chess Trophy | Dortmund, Germany

The virus prevented this new look tournament in Dortmund from taking off in 2020, but it’s back for 2021, with a series of opens with a €50,000 prize fund.

Links: official website

July 17 – 28 | Biel Chess Festival | Biel/Bienne, Switzerland

The Biel Chess Festival was one of the first top level tournaments to be held successfully after coronavirus restrictions eased in summer 2020, and it plans to be back for a 54th edition in 2021. In recent years it’s experimented with combining classical, rapid and blitz chess.

Links: official website

July 31 – August 8 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 8 | chess24

The 8th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the 5th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

August 2021

August 10 – 15 | St. Louis Rapid & Blitz | Saint Louis, USA

The 4th leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour

August 17 – 27 | Sinquefield Cup | Saint Louis, USA

The 8th edition of the Sinquefield Cup is the 5th and final stage of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 12-player classical event has a $325,000 prize fund and will also finalise who wins the additional $175,000 in prize money for the overall tour standings.

Links: Grand Chess Tour

August 28 – September 5 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 9 | chess24

The 9th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the 6th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund. This will be the last chance for players to qualify for the Grand Final.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

September 2021

Sep 25 – October 3 |  Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Final | San Francisco, USA

The Grand Final of the 2021 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour will be a $300,000 10-player round-robin featuring the top players on the tour. It’s going to be held in the San Francisco headquarters of the tour’s name sponsors Meltwater. The players will be handicapped based on their performance over the year.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

October 2021

October 25 – November 8 | FIDE Grand Swiss | Douglas, Isle of Man

As in 2019 the traditional open tournament on the Isle of Man will become a FIDE Candidates Tournament qualifier, with the $425,000 main event now offering two places in the Candidates as well as a $70,000 top prize. This year it’s accompanied by a $125,000 FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss, with 50 players and at least one qualifier to a Women’s Candidates Tournament.

Links: official website

November 2021

November 11 – 22 | European Team Chess Championship | Terme Olimia, Slovenia

This biennial European event for national chess teams saw Russia claim double gold when it was last held in Batumi, Georgia in 2019.

Links: official website

November 27 – December 5 | European Chess Club Cup | Ohrid, North Macedonia

An annual team event for chess clubs based in Europe, though players can come from around the world.

Links: official website

November 27 – December 5 | European Women’s Chess Club Cup | Monaco

The women’s event is taking place at the same time as the open tournament, but at a different venue.

Links: official website

November-December | World Chess Championship Match | Dubai, UAE

If the Candidates Tournament is successfully completed in the first half of 2021 the plan is to hold the match between the winner and current World Champion Magnus Carlsen in Dubai as part of Expo 2020, which has now been rescheduled to begin on October 1, 2021. It’s already been announced that the match will feature 14 games rather than 12, with a prize fund of at least €2 million.

Nov 24, 2017

12-year-old boy grabs 1st GM norm at World Junior Championship

12-year-old Praggnanandhaa’s win over Awonder Liang in Round 8 of the World Junior Championship in Tarvisio took his performance rating to 2749 and guaranteed him his first grandmaster norm. He might not stop there, though, since with only three rounds to go he’s just half a point behind the leader, Aryan Tari. If he did win the tournament he’d gain the grandmaster title immediately without the need to score two more norms and in the process smash Sergey Karjakin’s record to become the youngest grandmaster in history.

Praggnanandhaa may be only 12 years and 3 months old, but he’s already been the youngest international master in history and it’s been obvious for some time now that he was ready to perform at a grandmaster level. He hit the 2500 rating requirement on his birthday in August, but just missed out on a first grandmaster norm when he lost in the last round of the HZ Tournament to Eduardo Iturrizaga.

He then fell short in the Sants Open, the Isle of Man International and the Chigorin Memorial, casting doubt on whether he would go on to beat Sergey Karjakin’s record of gaining the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years and 7 months. Now though, despite starting as only the 26th seed in a tournament where players up to the age of 20 are eligible, he’s scored his first grandmaster norm with three rounds still to spare.

See also:

  • Official website
  • All the games with computer analysis on chess24: Open | Girls
  • Praggnanandhaa beats World Junior top seed
Sep 27, 2021

Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals begun

It’s Carlsen-Duda, So-Mamedyarov, Aronian-MVL, Radjabov-Artemiev and Giri-Nakamura today as the $300,000 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals begin. The event is being played online on the chess24 Playzone, but there’s a hybrid element, since Magnus Carlsen, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Anish Giri are all in one venue in Oslo. Peter Leko returns to commentate, and will be joined by Lawrence Trent, with Danny King and Simon Williams to follow for later rounds. Don’t miss all the action here on chess24 from 11:00 ET/17:00 CEST/20:30 IST!

After 9 events over the space of 11 months the $1.6 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is about to reach its conclusion, with 10 players battling it out for the overall title. You can check out all the pairings below.

It’s a round-robin, so the 10 players face each of their rivals once over the course of 9 rounds, with each match starting with 4 rapid games where the players have 15 minutes for all their moves plus a 10-second increment from move 1. If the match ends in rapid chess the winner gets 3 points and the losing player 0.

Only if the match is tied 2:2 do we get a blitz playoff, with two 5+3 games. If still tied there’s a single Armageddon game, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, but a draw counts as a win for Black. There are 2 points for the winner of a playoff and 1 for the losing player.

The action is online, but with three players, Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda competing from Oslo. Two of them meet in Round 1 as it’s Carlsen-Duda.

oin us for 10 days of intense top-level chess action!

See also:

Oct 25, 2016

20 Years Later, Humans Still No Match For Computers On The Chessboard

Next month, there’s a world chess championship match in New York City, and the two competitors, the assembled grandmasters, the budding chess prodigies, the older chess fans — everyone paying attention — will know this indisputable fact: A computer could win the match hands down.

They’ve known as much for almost 20 years — ever since May 11, 1997. On that day, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated the great Garry Kasparov who, after an early blunder, resigned in defeat.

“I am ashamed by what I did at the end of this match. But so be it,” Kasparov said. “I feel confident that machine hasn’t proved anything yet.”

Kasparov’s confidence proved unjustified. In the years since, computers have built on Deep Blue’s 1997 breakthrough to the point where the battle between humans and machines is not even close. Even chess grandmasters like author and columnist Andrew Soltis know this to be true.

“Right now, there’s just no competition,” Soltis says. “The computers are just much too good.”

And as it turns out, some players prefer to stay away from computers as opponents, he says.

“The world champion Magnus Carlsen won’t even play his computer,” Soltis says. “He uses it to train, to recommend moves for future competition. But he won’t play it, because he just loses all the time and there’s nothing more depressing than losing without even being in the game.”

Magnus Carlsen, who’s Norwegian, defends his title against Sergey Karjakin of Russia, in November. Carlsen is 25. Karjakin, 26.

They have both arrived at the highest ranks of the game in an era when a $100 chess computer can easily dispose of them both. That superiority had been pursued and imagined for decades.

There was a chess match in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL, the computer, versus Frank, the astronaut. The chess match in 2001: A Space Odyssy between HAL, the computer, and Frank, the astronaut.

But here’s the question. Do HAL’s real-life progeny — computers that can see 30 moves into the future — play the game differently? Do they have a style? Have they taught humans new strategies?

Murray Campbell of IBM was part of the Deep Blue project. As he says, chess computers do play differently. They make moves that sometimes make no sense to their human opponents.

“Computers don’t have any sense of aesthetics or patterns that are standard the way people learn how to play chess,” Campbell says. “They play what they think is the objectively best move in any position, even if it looks absurd, and they can play any move no matter how ugly it is.”

Human chess players bring preconceptions to the board; computers are unbound by habit. And, unlike people, computers love to retreat, Soltis says.

“And if you see a game in which one of the players is doing a lot of retreating mysteriously and so on, and the game goes on forever and ever, that’s a computer,” he says.

Susan Polgar is a grandmaster and a six-time national collegiate champion chess coach. Computers do all that retreating, she says, because they’re not slaves to human nature. Humans, she says, don’t like to admit a mistake unless they really have to.
“And in those borderline cases when it’s not obvious that you have to retreat, chess players tend to not like to retreat,” Polgar says. “Let’s say you move a knight forward towards your opponent’s king, attacking. Unless you absolutely have to retreat, you rather try to follow up that attack by bringing more pieces to attack your opponent’s king.”

Computers display no such stubbornness. “A computer, if it calculates that the best move is to retreat, it has absolutely no psychological boundaries holding it back from retreating,” Polgar says.

One of the human players in November’s match, Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, was described as playing a very un-computer like game of chess. Polgar says this means Carlsen can win with different kinds of strategy, and he might choose his strategy based on what he knows about his opponent.

“Against one opponent that loves having queens on the board — the most dangerous attacking piece — he would make sure, you know, try to get rid of the queens as soon as possible and put his opponent in a more uncomfortable setting on the chessboard,” Polgar says.

To the great human chess champion, understanding the foibles of his foe can be a key to victory. To a computer, all opponents look the same. “I think many of the common board games don’t have the unknown element in it,” Campbell says. “They may have chance elements. A game like backgammon, for example, there’s roll of the dice, but you can calculate the probabilities quite accurately. When there’s unknowns, there’s things … just are hidden from you, and even the alternatives, the things you can do, can’t be set down and enumerated. There’s maybe too many possible actions you can take. That’s the challenge for modern artificial intelligence research.”

Meanwhile, back at the chessboard, two of the best human players in the world — Carlsen and Karjakin — play their championship in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, starting Nov. 11.

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