Firouzja Among “Full” Grand Chess Tour Participants But Not Carlsen Or Nakamura

GMs Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alireza Firouzja, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Levon Aronian, Richard Rapport, and Leinier Dominguez are the “full tour participants” of the 2022 Grand Chess Tour. World champion Magnus Carlsen and speed chess specialist GM Hikaru Nakamura are not on the list but can still appear as a wildcard.

The participants of the 2022 Grand Chess Tour were announced in a press release on Wednesday. The tour consists of five events this year:

  1. Superbet Chess Classic Romania: May 3 – May 15, 2022, Bucharest, Romania
  2. Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland: May 17 – May 24, 2022, Warsaw, Poland
  3. SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz Croatia: July 18 – July 25, 2022, Zagreb, Croatia
  4. Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: August 24 – August 31, 2022, Saint Louis, US
  5. Sinquefield Cup: August 31 – September 13, 2022 Saint Louis, US

The full tour participants will play in both classical events—the first and last events of the tour—as well as in two of the three rapid and blitz tournaments. The Superbet Chess Classic is likely the first over-the-board event for Firouzja since he broke 2800 and became the world’s number two player.

Three players qualified by finishing first through third in the 2021 Grand Chess Tour: So, MVL, and Mamedyarov, respectively. The remaining six were invited based on a number of factors, including the “Universal Rating System” used by the tour organizers, but also “FIDE rating, fighting spirit, and sportsmanship,” as the press release notes.

For the 2022 edition, the Grand Chess Tour has an increased prize fund of $1.4 million in total. Each classical tournament prize fund increased from $325,000 to $350,000 and each rapid and blitz event prize fund increased from $150,000 to $175,000.

The tour’s two major sponsors are tthe Superbet Foundation and the Saint Louis Chess Club. Superbet is a Romanian bookmaker founded in 2019 by Vlad Ardeleanu that sponsored a 2019 rapid and blitz tournament in Bucharest and became a tour sponsor in 2021. The Saint Louis Chess Club has is financially backed by the Missouri-based businessman, investor, and philanthropist Rex Sinquefield.

Carlsen and Nakamura’s absence this year is likely explained by their busy schedules. The world champion is heavily involved in the upcoming Meltwater Champions Chess Tour while the American grandmaster is a chess streamer more than professional player these days, although that didn’t prevent him from reaching the final of the first leg of the FIDE Grand Prix.

These two players, who scored major successes in earlier GCT years, could still make an appearance in this year’s tour as wildcard participants in one or more rapid and blitz events.

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