Wesley So out of $1M-plus Grand Chess Tour
LAS VEGAS — Grandmaster Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France was added April 26 as ninth and last player in the super chess circuit starting June 15, which brings together three of the world’s strongest chess tournaments.
Ranked No. 7 in the world, Filipino Wesley So is a natural fit for the tournament, but organizers did not officially say if he was invited, and if was, why he declined to participate.
Called the Grand Chess Tour, the circuit will feature the Norway Chess set in Stanger June 15-26, the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, August 21 to September 3 and the London Chess Classic, December 3-14.
An informally designated media liaison in Manila said So was invited but could not make it due to prior commitments, which are in conflict with the schedule of some of the legs of the tour.
“Because of prior commitments to a four-game match with David Navarra plus simultaneous exhibitions in the middle of the match, he (So) now has a scheduling conflict with Norway Chess,” the media liaison said in a Facebook posting.
“Influential people” are trying to work out a plan so that So can still play in Norway, the liaison added.
“Team Wesley is still hoping that the re-scheduling can be worked out. If not, So will have to honor his commitments and skip Norway Chess this year,” the liaison, who acts as virtual spokesman, said.
Other than Lotis Key, a personal chaperone who is introduced as So’s “mother,” no member of “Team Wesley” is publicly known.
No re-scheduling was presumably worked out as Grand Chess Tour organizers picked Vachier-Lagrave as the ninth player.
Each tournament can add a 10th player, but the nine are permanent participants.
Each of the three tour event will award individual prize funds of $300,000, with competitors also tallying points toward a tour prize fund of $150,000.
The overall tour champion will receive an additional $75,000. The total prize fund for the circuit is $1,050,000.
The participating players are:
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, Norway
Fabiano Caruana, Italy
Alexander Grischuk, Russia
Veselin Topalov, Bulgaria
Viswanathan Anand, India
Levon Aronian, Armenia
Anish Giri, Netherlands
Hikaru Nakamura, USA
Kramnik out too
Former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia was invited but declined, citing prior commitments and his desire to spend more time with his family.
” I have actually a lot of invitations already this year. (…) Taking three more tournaments would just make it so totally packed and full, that I’m afraid first of all that I would not see my family for the whole year,” Kramnik said in a statement.
“The Grand Chess Tour was created with just one goal in mind: Demonstrating the highest level of organization for the world’s best players,” said Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis
It was Rich, the chief arbiter in the US Chess Championships who slapped So with a forfeit in the 9th round for writing notes to himself on a piece of paper in violation of tournament rules.
Organizers did not say that this has something to do with So’s not playing in the tour, but rules include the phrase, “players that demonstrate the highest levels of sportsmanship and professionalism.”
” We invited the top-10 players in the world, eight of whom have confirmed their participation,” Rich said, adding that the players were selected based on the January 2015 FIDE ratings.
“I guarantee the tour will be an extremely high-quality event,” said Rex Sinquefield, the man behind the Sinquefield Cup and all other chess activities in St. Louis
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