carlsen firouzja

Magnus Carlsen will be out to defend his Altibox Norway
Chess title just 7 months after the 2020 tournament ended, with the organisers
planning to return to a 10-player global event in May with the likes of Ding
Liren and Wesley So back in Stavanger. There are more World Champions in
action, with Anatoly Karpov set to play in the Tepe Sigeman & Co. Chess
tournament in April, Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik to play in Dortmund in
July, and we can dream of a return for Garry Kasparov as Chess9LX and the US
Champs have been announced for Saint Louis.

These are tough times for over-the-board chess. For instance,
the European Championship, that was planned to be combined with the Reykjavik
Open this year, has been postponed for a second time due to the pandemic, with
the event now hoped to be held in August-September this year and qualify
players to the 2023 World Cup.

The first major “hybrid” event

Organisers have had to get creative, and there’s now going
to be a 30,000 euros, 9-round “hybrid” European Qualification event from 22-30
May to decide 36 places in the World Cup. Players rated 2600 and over can play,
though there’s a limit per federation, and the players will play online but
from central venues in their countries with an arbiter present. Games are likely
be FIDE-rated after new regulations were brought in for just such World Cup qualifying events.

The Tour comes full circle

The next event featuring the very top players will be the
$200,000 4th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour here on chess24 from
March 13-21. It’s likely to be called the Magnus Invitational, an echo of the event which
started it all when the pandemic struck a year ago.

After that – if the GRENKE Chess Classic doesn’t take place
around Easter – there seems to be nothing before the Candidates Tournament is set
to resume on April 19th
in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

From then on, however, the picture looks more promising for
over-the-board chess!

Karpov returns at the age of 69

13th World Champion Garry Kasparov retired at the age of
just 41, 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik at 43, but 12th World Champion
Anatoly Karpov has never retired and, rather than just playing rapid or blitz,
has continued from time to time to take on strong players in classical
chess. His participation in the 8-player Tepe Sigeman & Co. Chess
in Malmo, Sweden from April 24 – 30 still looks incredibly brave,

The 69-year-old will take on a field packed with aggressive
players, including Tata Steel Masters winner Jorden van Foreest and 16-year-old
rising star Nihal Sarin. The time control is the same long 6-7 hours as in Wijk
aan Zee.    

Norway Chess is back

Last year the pandemic pushed Altibox Norway Chess to October,
but this year it’s going to return to a more familiar time slot from May 9-21.
It’s also planned to return to a full 10-player format, no longer limited only to
players with a European passport.

Since it follows hot on the heels of the Candidates we may
see Magnus Carlsen facing his new challenger, with current leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joined by
world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana and world no. 3 Ding Liren. Levon Aronian and Aryan
return this year, as does the player who pushed Magnus closest in 2020,
17-year-old Alireza Firouzja. We’ll also see Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and
Champions Chess Tour leader and Magnus tormentor Wesley So, along with one player yet to be announced. 

Kramnik and Anand to play No Castles Chess

Dortmund has long been one of the traditional
super-tournaments, but in 2020 there were already plans afoot to switch
mainly to an open tournament instead. The pandemic interfered, while this year the
centrepiece of the Dortmund Chess Days is set to be a 4-game classical match
between the 14th and 15th World Champions Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand.

The twist is that the match will be played without the players
having the right to castle, one
of the chess variants
championed by 10-time Dortmund winner Kramnik in
order to try and get away from existing opening analysis.

Dortmund will also host a 10-player round-robin featuring
some of the top German players and international opponents, though if the World
Cup goes ahead as currently planned from July 10th it may sharply limit the
potential field. There will also be an open tournament, but held online rather than in

Saint Louis to host top US events again

In the last decade Rex Sinquefield has almost
single-handedly turned the Midwestern US city of Saint Louis into one of the major
centres of the chess world. When the pandemic struck multiple events could only
be held online, but the hope is that the Saint Louis Chess Club will again host
the world’s best players in 2021.

The Grand Chess Tour St. Louis Rapid & Blitz and
Sinquefield Cup had already been announced for August, while now another
edition of Chess9LX (Chess960) is set for September 8-10 and the US
Championships are planned for October 5-19. Wesley So will be out to become the
first player since Gata Kamsky in 2014 to defend his title, after winning last
year’s online event.  

It goes without saying that all the announced tournaments
depend on the pandemic situation, but mid to late 2021 is likely to be
packed with chess – including the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the small
matter of a World Championship match!

For a full schedule of events check out our 2021 Chess

Chess Mentor

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