We’re going to be spoiled for chess in 2018, with the Candidates Tournament in March deciding Magnus Carlsen’s challenger for a match in November, while in September we have the 43rd World Chess Olympiad. The year will of course be packed with other supertournaments and strong opens, with the overlapping Tata Steel Masters (Carlsen, Caruana, Mamedyarov, Kramnik, Anand…) and Tradewise Gibraltar Masters (Aronian, MVL, Nakamura…) ensuring the year starts with a bang!
The calendar below features most of the big events in 2018, but note that at the time of writing it’s unclear if some events will take place (e.g. the Zurich Chess Challenge) or when others will happen (e.g. the US and Russian Championships). We’ve added a list of such tournaments at the end.
The 80th edition of the Dutch supertournament has pulled out all the stops to invite 9 of the world’s top 15 players, including the top three of Carlsen, Caruana and Mamedyarov and former World Champions Kramnik and Anand. Once again there are 14-player Masters and Challengers events, with two “on tour” rounds in Hilversum and Groningen.
Top 10 stars Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Hikaru Nakamura (the winner for the last three years) head the race for a top prize of £25,000 in the 10-round Masters. The women’s top prize of £15,000 has again attracted an all-star line-up, with defending champion Ju Wenjun facing competition from Alexandra Kosteniuk and the Muzychuk sisters. Hou Yifan plays in Wijk aan Zee.
The event in the Russian State Social University in Moscow is one of the world’s largest chess festivals, with multiple tournaments usually attracting in the region of 1,500 players.
This “unofficial chess960 World Championship” will see World Champion Magnus Carlsen take on Hikaru Nakamura over 16 FischerRandom games – 8 at a one-hour per player time control over four days, and then 8 blitz games on the final day.
Links: official website
The top section of the Aeroflot Open in the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow is known as the world’s toughest open tournament, with only players rated 2550 and above automatically allowed entry. Vladimir Fedoseev is the top seed as he tries to repeat last year's victory and again qualify for the Dortmund supertournament, but he faces tough competition from the likes of Vidit and Dmitry Andreikin.
This year's event begins with a 3-day rapid supertournament featuring the following 10 players: Kramnik, Grischuk, Svidler, Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi, Mamedyarov, Nakamura, Anand, Gelfand and Dubov, with the latter making it through a qualifying event. For the blitz on March 5th those ten will be joined by more players.
The 2018 edition of the Reykjavik Open has been named the Bobby Fischer Memorial to mark the year in which Fischer would have turned 75. A Fischer Random Championship will be held on his birthday on March 9th, with the main open reduced from 10 to 9 rounds to accommodate that.
Eight players compete in a gruelling 14-round double-round robin for the right to play a World Championship match against Magnus Carlsen in November!
A strong open tournament taking place in Vietnam each year, with Le Quang Liem the defending champion.
The Georgian Black Sea resort of Batumi hosts the Olympiad in 2018, but also events such as this European Championship, which will determine 23 players for the 2019 World Cup.
Anna Muzychuk (rapid) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (blitz) are the defending champions for these 11 and 13-round tournaments.
The Easter GRENKE Chess Open describes itself as “the biggest open in the world” and is again likely to begin in the same playing hall as the GRENKE Chess Classic supertournament.
This year's supertournament is now a 10-player event that again features World Champion Magnus Carlsen and last year's winner Levon Aronian. The field is completed by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano Caruana, Vishy Anand, Nikita Vitiugov, Arkadij Naiditsch, Hou Yifan, Georg Meier and Matthias Bluebaum. The live broadcast will be provided by chess24.
A strong 9-round open with a $13,000 first prize. Gawain Jones finished top after a 7-way tie for first in 2017.
The Chinese League is a 12-team double round-robin taking places over 22 rounds spread into 3-4 day sessions throughout the year. Each match takes place on five boards, with female players required to play on two of the boards.
The 11-round open is taking place in the Slovakian mountains and will determine 14 players for the next Women’s World Chess Championship knockout.
The 2nd Sharjah Masters is a 9-round open with a $15,000 first prize. Young Chinese star Wei Yi is currently the top seed.
This year’s Bangkok Chess Club Open is again taking place at a beach resort. In 2017 the winner was Nigel Short, half a point clear of a group that included Jan Gustafsson.
A team event in 50+ and 65+ age categories for four-player teams who must represent one of the European chess federations.
The national chess championship of one of the world's strongest chess countries. Wei Yi has won for the last three years.
The 2018 US Championships are again 12-player single round-robins, with a total prize fund of $294,000. The first prize is $50,000 in the open section, which again features the Top 10 trio of Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, and $25,000 for the women.
The 2018 edition of the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir sees the return of World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who won the first two editions of the tournament. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has won since, and also takes part along with the likes of Anish Giri and Ding Liren.
The final three rounds of the 2017-2018 Chess Bundesliga are again taking place at a central venue in Berlin, with 16 teams fighting for the title and the all-star Baden-Baden (Caruana, Aronian, MVL, Anand…) again the favourites.
One of the strongest national team events, with team line-ups usually featuring top Russian players and some foreign stars.
This short but strong 6-player single-round robin will this year feature commentary from Yasser Seirawan.
Tan Zhongyi, the winner of the last Women's Knockout World Championship and therefore the reigning champion, takes on Ju Wenjun, the winner of the Women's Grand Prix, in a 10-game World Championship Match. The first five games are held in Shanghai before it switches to Chongqing.
The 2018 Polish Championships are again taking place in the Warsaw Stock Exchange, with Kacper Piorun and Monika Soćko the defending champions, while this year both 2700 stars, Radek Wojtaszek and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, play.
The traditional team match between two chess superpowers sees five-player men's and women's teams play against each member of the other team once in classical chess and twice in blitz.
The 19th edition of the Karpov tournament in the small Siberian oil and gas town of Poikovsky is a strong 10-player round-robin featuring Nepomniachtchi, Jakovenko, Vidit, Fedoseev, Artemiev, Gelfand, Korobov, Kovalev, Sutovsky and Bologan.
The French Team Championship is one of the world's strongest team events and features the best 12 teams playing each other over 11 rounds on 8 boards.
The 6th edition of Norway Chess will struggle to compete with the 5th edition, which featured the full world Top 10 at the moment the line-up was announced, but with Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian already confirmed it’s unlikely to disappoint!
Sam Shankland is the top seed as players fight for World Cup places in the 11-round American Continental Championship.
The Your Next Move rapid and blitz tournament is the first event in the 2018 Grand Chess Tour. The regular tour players are Anand, Aronian, Caruana, Grischuk, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Nakamura, So and MVL, with Giri participating as a wild card. 9 rounds of rapid chess are followed by 18 rounds of blitz.
This rapid and blitz tournament is the second event of the 2018 Grand Chess Tour and is sponsored by Colliers International, Vivendi and DailyMotion. The 9 tour regulars will be joined by Vladimir Kramnik as a wild card.
The Higher League is the famously tough qualifying tournament that will determine five of the players in the Open and Women's Russian Championship Superfinals later in the year.
The Gideon Japhet Cup is a 6-player rapid double round-robin featuring Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vassily Ivanchuk, Boris Gelfand, Georg Meier and Anna Muzychuk. It's accompanied by a strong 7-round open where the top seed is Arkadij Naiditsch.
The 2018 Dutch Championships are 8-player single round-robins, with Loek van Wely the top seed in the open tournament as Anish Giri is preparing to play in Dortmund.
The 31st edition features returning champion Wesley So, Spanish players Paco Vallejo and Jaimie Santos and 12-year-old Indian rising star Praggnanandhaa.
The 2018 World Senior Team Championship will be held in 50+ and 65+ categories.
The 2017 edition of this supertournament was won by Poland’s Radek Wojtaszek ahead of the likes of Vladimir Fedoseev, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and 10-time winner Vladimir Kramnik. Wojaszek and Kramnik return in 2018 alongside Anish Giri, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Aeroflot winner Vladislav Kovalev.
The Biel Chess Festival is back to full strength this year with 2-time winner and World Champion Magnus Carlsen, 5-time winner Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and world no. 3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov topping the 6-player field for the double round-robin. Hou Yifan won the 2017 edition of this traditional supertournament, which is also accompanied by a strong open.
A big traditional 10-round open held as part of the Copenhagen Chess Festival - this year it features 2700 players such as Nikita Vitiugov and Dmitry Andreikin.
The 9th edition of the tournament on the South China Sea island of Hainan is again a strong classical grandmaster event, this time featuring three Chinese players - Wei Yi, Yu Yangyi and Bu Xiangzhi - and five foreign players - Shankland, Duda, Fedoseev, Le Quang Liem and Vidit.
This 9-round open will determine the 2018 British Champion, with Gawain Jones the defending champion.
This is the 25th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival and the main 9-round open features a strong field including Le Quang Liem, Wang Hao and Nigel Short.
This is the 3rd event on the 2018 Grand Chess Tour, with exactly the same format as in Leuven and Paris. The wild card is Leinier Dominguez.
The 6th edition of the Sinquefield Cup is the 4th event on the 2018 Grand Chess Tour and the only one to feature only classical chess. It's weighted to be the last and most important qualifying event for the final, with 20 Grand Chess Tour points for outright victory rather than 13 elsewhere. It's almost managed to secure the participation of World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who looks set to play his last game against Fabiano Caruana before their World Championship match.
The defending champions from 2017 are 8-time champion Etienne Bacrot and 6-time champion Sophie Milliet.
These two 12-player round robins will determine the 2018 Russian Open and Women's Champions. Peter Svidler won't be able to make it 9 titles, since he's commentating in St. Louis, but the line-up remains formidable: Andreikin, Fedoseev, Vitiugov, Jakovenko, Tomashevsky, Nepomniachtchi, Inarkiev, Kobalia, Dubov, Oparin, Khismatullin and Sarana.
The world’s most prestigious event for juniors (20 or younger). In 2017 it was won by Aryan Tari and Zhansaya Abdumalik.
Garry Kasparov returns to action to play a 20-game match against Veselin Topalov as part of the 2018 Champions Showdown. The other matches are Nakamura-Svidler, So-Giri, Shankland-MVL and Aronian-Dominguez. This time all the games are played using the Fischer Random or Chess960 chess variant, where the starting position of the pieces on the back ranks is randomised. Each match consists of six 30 minute + 10-second delay rapid games, with a win worth 2 points, and 14 5+5 blitz games worth 1 point.
The biennial team tournament is the chess world’s biggest celebration, featuring hundreds of 4-player teams and most of the world’s chess federations. In Baku in 2016 the 11-round opens were won by the USA in the open section and China in the women’s section.
For the first time in over a decade Vishy Anand looks set to play:
Sochi again hosts Russian rapid and blitz championships both for individuals and teams, with categories split into open and women’s.
7-round team events are held in open and women’s sections and always attract strong participants from the various national team championships around Europe. World Champion Magnus Carlsen looks set to be the highest rated participant.
The 2018 edition of this 9-round open understandably doesn't feature defending champion Magnus Carlsen or his World Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana, but still boasts six Top 10 players: Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So and Viswanathan Anand.
The highlight in Hoogeveen this year will again be two 6-game matches. One is between 8-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler and US Champion Sam Shankland, while the other pits Dutch talent Jorden van Foreest against the dangerous Russian player Vladimir Fedoseev. Those matches will be accompanied by the traditional open tournament.
This tournament is split into U14, U16 and U18 categories in both an open and a girls section.
A strong annual open commemorating Russia’s first great chess player Mikhail Chigorin.
The U8, U10 and U12 categories in the open section and for girls are split off from the other youth categories as the “World Cadets”.
The 1st edition of the Shenzhen Masters in 2017 was won by Ding Liren ahead of Anish Giri and Peter Svidler. The 2nd edition is again a 6-player double round-robin, this time featuring Ding Liren, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Yu Yangyi, Radek Wojtaszek and Nikita Vitiugov.
India's first supertournament in many years see will feature a format similiar to the Grand Chess Tour speed events, with three days of rapid followed by two of blitz. The line-up sees foreign stars Mamedyarov, Aronian, So, Nakamura and Karjakin take on India's Anand, Harikrishna, Vidit, Ganguly, Sarin and Praggnanandhaa. The total prize fund is $40,000.
The 2018/2019 season of the prestigious German Chess League starts on the weekend of November 10-11. 16 teams play each other over 15 rounds split up into 7 weekends, with many of the world's best players likely to be in action.
China's Ju Wenjun only recently won the Women's World Championship in a match, but her title will be on stake again as she competes, with no privileges, in a 64-player knockout to determine the new Women's World Champion.
The World Chess Championship is a 12-game match taking place in London between reigning Norwegian World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and his US Challenger Fabiano Caruana.
The World Senior Championship has categories for 50+ and 65+ players in open and women's categories.
The World Youth Olympiad has the same format as the adult Olympiad but is for players 16 or younger at the start of the year.
The culmination of a year-long series of strong rapid tournaments held across Russia.
Links: official website
A knockout final for players qualified through a series of classical events held around Russia over the course of the year.
A big event which differs from the World Rapid and Blitz Championship by allowing anyone to take part.
The 2018 London Chess Classic is a knockout classical, rapid and blitz tournament featuring the top four performers over the preceding four events of the Grand Chess Tour. It will determine the overall winner of the tour, and has a $300,000 prize fund.
This strong open in a coastal town south of Barcelona will be holding its 5th edition in 2018.
The 42nd edition of the strong 7-round "Zürcher Weihnachtsopen" will be taking place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Zurich.
It's now become a tradition to end the year with 3 days of rapid chess followed by 2 days of blitz to determine the World Rapid and Blitz Champions. The reigning champions are Vishy Anand in rapid and Magnus Carlsen in blitz.
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