Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun and 12-year-old youngest ever grandmaster Abhimanyu Mishra from July 31st play the Chessable Masters, the 8th event on the $1.6 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The top seeds are Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Wesley So, Alireza Firouzja and Hikaru Nakamura, with three places still to be determined. The Chessable Masters starts on the final rest day of the FIDE World Cup, and is the penultimate regular tour qualifying event before September’s Grand Final.
Who plays the Chessable Masters?
Magnus Carlsen beat Anish Giri in the final of the 2020 Chessable Masters, but the World Champion is currently in action in Round 4 of the FIDE World Cup in Sochi. The line-up, with three places still to be determined, is topped by Azerbaijan no. 1 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
There are four new players, with a tour event for the first time featuring two women. China’s Ju Wenjun has been Women’s World Chess Champion since beating Tan Zhongyi in a match in 2018, and has defended her title both in a knockout tournament and by beating Aleksandra Goryachkina in a match. She’s also a formidable rapid player, having won the Women’s World Rapid Championship in both 2017 and 2018.
Humpy Koneru is the reigning Women’s World Rapid Champion after winning the event in 2019. The Indian star beat Judit Polgar’s then record to become a grandmaster shortly after her 15th birthday and has a peak rating of 2623 that only Judit Polgar and Hou Yifan have ever exceeded among female players.
The 3rd new invite is 12-year-old Abhimanyu Mishra, who recently smashed Sergey Karjakin’s record to become the youngest grandmaster of all time. It’s appropriate that the US prodigy plays the Chessable Masters, since he has “legend” status on Chessable and made it a central part of achieving his grandmaster goal.
Another new face on the tour is Eduardo Iturrizaga, who represented Venezuela at eight Olympiads, but has recently switched to playing for Spain. He qualified by winning the 32-player Iberoamericano knockout.
The other Chessable Masters players require very little introduction, but it’s notable that 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja will now be playing a tour event under the French flag for the first time after recently receiving French citizenship and switching to the French Chess Federation.
When is the Chessable Masters?
Alireza Firouzja is one of seven players confirmed for the event who’ll be hoping to bounce back after suffering World Cup heartbreak. The 309-player event in Sochi is already down to the final 32 in the Open and 16 in the Women’s section, and by the time the Chessable Masters begins the action in Sochi will take place in an almost empty hall. July 31st is the final rest day before the 4-player semi-finals in the Open section, while it’s the semi-finals tiebreak day for the Women.
After the Goldmoney Asian Rapid started each day at 13:00 CEST the Chessable Masters returns to the more regular time of 17:00 CEST, which is good news for Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So and US chess fans, but will mean later games in Asia.
What’s the format of the Chessable Masters?
All games will be played on chess24, with the players having 15 minutes for each game plus a 10-second increment each move. The tournament consists of two stages.
- A preliminary stage where the players face each other once over three days and 15 rounds, with the bottom eight players eliminated.
- The top eight then go forward to a knockout, with each match consisting of two 4-game matches, played over two days.
- If the match score is tied 1:1 we get a playoff, where the players first play two 5+3 blitz games. If the score is still equal we get an Armageddon game, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, but a draw counts as a win for Black.
What’s at stake in the Chessable Masters?
The Chessable Masters is a $100,000 regular tour event, with $30,000 for the winner.
There are also up to 50 tour points (10 for the preliminaries, 40 for the knockout) on offer, with just one more event remaining after the Chessable Masters before the Tour Final in San Francisco in September.
It’s a good chance, for instance, for Hikaru Nakamura to all but wrap up qualification for the Final.
The name sponsor of the tournament is of course Chessable, which has helped transform chess education in the last few years based on the Move Trainer spaced-repetition system that boosts the chances of learning chess openings and analysis.
It’s used by the best, with the coach of 15-year-old Praggnanandhaa crediting Adhiban’s 1.b3 course for helping with a brilliant win that took Pragg to Round 4 of the FIDE World Cup.
Chessable boast of paying out $3 million to content creators on the platform, with Chessable co-founder John Bartholomew commenting:
The demand for online coaching has absolutely skyrocketed in the past year. It’s crazy. Chess education is hot — as it should be! It’s a dream come true that Chessable is able to regularly pay out substantial sums to deserving chess teachers and publishers.
Where can I watch?
Once again all the action will be streamed live here on chess24 with commentary in multiple languages and catering for different levels of chess knowledge. Our Oslo broadcast will again feature Kaja Snare, Jovanka Houska and David Howell, while the expert broadcast will be hosted by Tania Sachdev and Danny King. The action will also be broadcast on TV2 in Norway and by Eurosport around the world.