Many competitive sports and games feature tours that showcase the best players in the world, as well as giving new stars a chance to shine. Golf has the PGA, poker has the World Poker Tour, and chess has the FIDE Grand Prix, a series of tournaments that plays an important role in the World Championship Cycle. The Grand Prix is one of the few ways in which a player can qualify for the Candidates Tournament, and gives those players who aren't quite at the top of the ratings list a real chance to get into the mix.
How the FIDE Grand Prix Works
The current FIDE Grand Prix - at the time of this writing - is the 2012-2013 Grand Prix, which will qualify players for the 2014 Candidates tournament (for the 2014 World Chess Championship). While the information on this page should be accurate for that event, future cycles are likely to have variations or even major changes in the rules, and the Grand Prix may not even be present in every World Championship cycle.
For the 2012-2013 FIDE Grand Prix, 18 players were selected based on a number of potential ways to qualify. Some players qualified by rating, while others were nominated by FIDE or Agon, the Grand Prix sponsor. Four players were selected via their high placement in the 2011 Chess World Cup, while Boris Gelfand was invited by virtue of having reached the 2012 World Chess Championship. The final roster is as follows:
- Sergey Karjakin
- Veselin Topalov
- Hikaru Nakamura
- Vugar Gashimov
- Teimour Radjabov
- Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
- Peter Svidler
- Alexander Grischuk
- Vassily Ivanchuk
- Ruslan Ponomariov
- Boris Gelfand
- Fabiano Caruana
- Alexander Morozevich
- Wang Hao
- Peter Leko
- Leinier Dominguez Perez
- Anish Giri
- Rustam Kasimdzhanov
There are some notable absences on this list. Viswanathan Anand declined to participate, though this is somewhat understandable; after all, as the World Champion, he has no need to qualify for the World Championship. In addition, the world's highest rated players - Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik - all chose not to play, likely expecting to qualify for the Candidates tournament based on their ratings.
Grand Prix Events
In the 2012-2013 FIDE Grand Prix, six events will be contested. Each player is required to participate in four of these tournaments, with each tournament including 12 of the players. Reserve players are available in case of withdrawals; this was the case in the first event in London, in which Peter Svidler withdrew for family reasons and was replaced by Michael Adams.
The six Grand Prix events for 2012-2013 are as follows:
- London (September 20 - October 3, 2012)
- Tashkent (November 21 - December 5, 2012)
- Lisbon (April 17 - May 1, 2013)
- Madrid (May 22 - June 4, 2013)
- Berlin (July 3 - July 17, 2013)
- Paris (September 18 - October 2, 2013)
Grand Prix Scoring
Each tournament in the Grand Prix will be a 12-player round-robin event using traditional scoring. The winner of each tournament will receive 170 points, with second place receiving 140 and third place receiving 110. The fourth place finisher will receive 90, fifth will get 80, and so on down until the last place finisher, who will receive just 10 points. Of course, ties in the standings are common in chess tournaments, so players who finish in equal position will share the Grand Prix points associated with those positions. For instance, if two players tie for third place, they will share the third and fourth place points; since those total 200, each player will receive 100 points.
At the end of the Grand Prix, each player's points will be totaled. However, only a player's three best results will be counted, allowing players to ignore one bad event. The top player in the standings is the Grand Prix champion, and automatically qualifies for the Candidates tournament. The runner up will also qualify for the Candidates tournament. Should there be a tie between players who might qualify, tiebreakers will be applied to determine the qualifiers. The first tiebreaker is the fourth result that was no included in each player's results, with the second tiebreaker being the number of game points scored in the four tournaments a player participated in.
History of the FIDE Grand Prix
The 2012-2013 FIDE Grand Prix is the second incarnation of this event. The first series was the FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2010, which features six events that helped two players qualify for the 2012 World Chess Championship's Candidates tournament. While he only played in three events, the series was won convincingly by Levon Aronian, who won two tournaments and shared second in another to finish with 500 points. Teimour Radjabov also finished with a comfortable lead for second place, scoring 419.33 points. That game him a 56 point lead over Alexander Grischuk, who finished 3rd.
Women's Grand Prix
FIDE has used a similar system in order to qualify players for the Women's World Championship, though not always in quite the same way. While the basic structure - players play in four events out of six that are held, with the best three results counting - the prize for winning the Grand Prix is much larger on the women's side.
In the 2009-2011 FIDE Women's Grand Prix, six tournaments were held, and the winner was to be the challenger to Hou Yifan for the women's World Championship. Interestingly, Hou Yifan narrowly won the Grand Prix, meaning that the runner-up would be her challenger. By just over eight points, Humpy Koneru edged out Nana Dzagnidze to earn the honor. Hou Yifan would ultimately triumph in that match by a 5.5-2.5 score.
The next FIDE Women's Grand Prix was the 2011-2012 Grand Prix, which was contested to determine who would be the challenger in the 2013 Women's World Chess Championship (against the winner of the Women's World Championship tournament in 2012). Once again, the series became a race between Humpy Koneru and Hou Yifan, but this time, Yifan left nothing to chance. She won three of the four events she participated in, putting up a perfect score that none of the other participants could match, and guaranteeing herself a spot in the 2013 Women's World Championship match.