Chess legends Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik have joined forces with Play Magnus Group to launch a new elite online tour designed to support rising young players and advance gender equality in the sport.
The Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour will feature some of the world’s top talent and include a healthy balance of male and female competitors.
At stake is a $100,000 prize pot, golden tickets to compete with the very best in the game in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour as well as educational opportunities and experiences.
“For too long men have dominated the entries into top chess events. Not any more,” said Grandmaster Polgar, the undisputed Queen of Chess.
Promising young players will also be given a shot in the limelight and access to top-level coaches to ensure their chess skills progress.
Kramnik, the man who defeated Garry Kasparov to take his world title, added:
In the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour we will see many of the future world chess elite in action.
It is very special and meaningful for me, that after many years and numerous face-to-face battles over the chessboard Judit and I will be competing as our teams go up against each other, helping the new generation of chess players reach the top.
Are you Team Polgar, or Team Kramnik?
Fronted by the strongest female player of all time, Judit Polgar, and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, the new tour will run alongside the hugely-popular Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
In total 20 players will be involved, divided into teams run by Judit and Vladimir. Live commentary of the action will be provided here on chess24.
The Tour is designed to tackle head-on the lack of female role models competing in top events and promote emerging talent.
Figures from FIDE released last year show there are more than 1700 grandmasters in the world, but only 37 of them are female.
Judit Polgar, however, has shown gender alone is no barrier to success in chess.
The Hungarian’s extraordinary career saw her beat Bobby Fischer’s long-standing record to become the youngest GM in history.
World Champions Judit has beaten include Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov and Viswanathan Anand. She peaked in 2005 when she was 29, hitting eighth in the world rankings.
The 44-year-old, who retired in 2014, said: “It has always been my mission to show chess is not just a game, it is a powerful tool in education.
“Play Magnus Group and I are pursuing that by building a platform for success for men, women and young talent that will get the next generation of elite players into the spotlight.
For women out there who are interested in chess, we hope to introduce you to some of the best female players in the world. For everyone, male or female, we are putting on a unique series of online tournaments that will be great to be a part of.
“The Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour will be full of drama and exciting chess. We hope you tune in to watch!”
The new Tour starts on April 8 and includes four 4-day rapid tournaments played on chess24, leading into a Final taking place from September 9 to 13.
The winner of each event will qualify for a place on the $1.5 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, Play Magnus Group’s flagship series.
Julius Baer, the Swiss private bank that has supported the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, will be the new event’s title partner.
Larissa Alghisi Rubner, Chief Communications Officer at Julius Baer, said:
We are thrilled by this concept and fully support both advancing gender equality in chess and supporting rising stars in the game.