The FIDE Grand Prix : Past, Present, and Future

Friday April 18, 2008

The first of the new FIDE Grand Prix tournaments starts this weekend in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Baku Grand Prix is the first event in the next FIDE World Championship Cycle (2008-2010), and ushers in a new system of elite competitions for the world's top chess players. • Official site: Grand Prix - Baku 2008. • What is the FIDE Grand Prix and how will it work?

Chess is a complicated game and the rules for the World Chess Championship often seem equally complicated. The FIDE Grand Prix should not be confused with other chess competitions having the same name:-

The new FIDE World Championship cycle (2008-2010) should also not be confused with the ongoing World Championship cycle (2007-2009). How did international chess end up with overlapping cycles? Because top level chess is still on the mend from The Schism, an awkward arrangement of parallel World Championships run by competing chess organizations. It took over 13 years to run its course:-

The challenge of going from the chaos of the schism to a more orderly system has involved political compromises designed to satisfy important stakeholders -- top players, sponsors, national federations -- in world chess. Let's look at the two World Championship cycles currently in process:-

The Grand Prix 2008-2009 is not just one tournament, it's a series of six. The Baku event is the first in the series. A total of 21 players have qualified for the series, with each player to participate in four of the six events. This works out to each tournament having 14 participants.

There is more than a shot at the World Championship riding on the six events. The prize fund for each event totals 212,000 Euros (a Euro is currently worth a little more than 1.50 US$). Each prize fund will be split between 162,000 Euros for the event and 50,000 Euros going into an accumulated prize fund. The 300,000 Euros in the accumulated prize fund (6 x 50,000 Euros) will be distributed to the 10 players with the best scores over the entire series of six tournaments. The details for determining the top-10 Grand Prix players and the overall winner can be found on the FIDE site. • Official FIDE rules: Regulations for the Grand Prix.

With the Grand Prix, world chess is entering a new era. Will FIDE and its new operational arm, Global Chess, make it work? We believe that, yes, they will.


Later: The official site for the entire series of events is Grand Prix 2008-2009.

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