Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian will aim to defend their Tata Steel and Gibraltar Masters titles as 2019 gets off to a traditional start. This year there's no Olympiad or World Championship match, but the World Cup awaits in September, as well as other biennial events such as the World and European Team Championships. The $1.5 million Grand Chess Tour is expanding into Asia and Africa, while Altibox Norway Chess will be one to watch as it trials Armageddon games after classical draws. There's a new women's supertournament as well as a Candidates Tournament to decide Ju Wenjun's next World Championship opponent.
This 2019 Chess Calendar is of course a work in progress, since we don't yet have the dates or details for many events, including those of the Grand Chess Tour. Please let us know in the comments if we've left out any major events which have already been announced.
Current and upcoming tournaments:
The London Chess Classic will host the finals of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour. The prize fund for the final four players - Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, MVL and Levon Aronian - has been raised to $350,000, with $150,000 for 1st place and $100,000 for 2nd. There are also major accompanying events including the British Knockout Championship and the FIDE Open.
This 12-player round-robin is the 2nd of four Women's Grand Prix events that will determine two places in the 2021 Women's Candidates Tournament. The series consists of 16 players who compete in 3 of the 4 events. The top prize is 15,000 euros, with another 20,000 euros for the overall winner of the series.
A 12-team double round-robin league held in six venues over the course of eight months. Most of the players are Chinese but there's a significant foreign presence during each round. This is the last weekend of the 2019 event.
The German Chess League (Schachbundesliga) is a 16-team all-play-all event that features some of the world's best players, including Fabiano Caruana and Vishy Anand. For six weekends teams are split in venues across Germany before coming together for a final 3-day weekend in May 2020.
The fourth leg of the new FIDE Grand Prix series. Each leg is a 16-player knockout with a €130,000 prize fund, with an additional €280,000 on offer based on the overall standings after all four events. The main goal is to win one of two qualifying places for the 2020 Candidates Tournament.
Links: official website
In recent years the European Rapid and Blitz Championship has featured as a warm-up for the World Rapid and Blitz held later in December.
Links: official website
An ambitious open tournament that has been growing year by year and attracting some top players.
Links: official website
Once again the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships are being sponsored by Saudi Arabia but held in Russia, with the prize fund the same $1 million as in 2018, with top prizes of $60,000 for the open events and $40,000 for the women's tournaments. The World Rapid Championships will be played from 26-28 December followed by the World Blitz Championship on 29-30 December. The venue is the Luzhniki Stadium, with Vladimir Kramnik among the participants.
Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Ding Liren, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand head the field for the 13-round Tata Steel Masters, with the debut of Sam Shankland in a major traditional supertournament a particular highlight. The 81st edition of the tournament also features Praggnanandhaa, Vincent Keymer and more of the world's top juniors playing in the Challengers.
Levon Aronian will attempt to defend his title in this year's Gibraltar Masters, but he'll face tough opposition from Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Yu Yangyi and Hikaru Nakamura. The 10-round open also features some of the world's best women, starting with reigning Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun.
The event in the Moscow Russian State Social University is one of the world’s largest chess festivals, with multiple tournaments usually attracting in the region of 1,500 players.
This year sees the launch of a female version of the Sinquefield Cup, with 10 of the world's best women competing in an event named after Jeanne Sinquefield, whose maiden name is Cairns.
The Champions Showdown is an opportunity for five US chess players (Leinier Dominguez recently switched federation) to play individual matches against selected opponents. They play 12 rapid games and 24 blitz games over five days for a $60,000 prize fund in each match. The matches are:
A weekend open tournament whose relaxed atmosphere usually helps attract some top players.
The 17th edition of one of the world's most formidable open tournaments is again taking place in the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow. The main event is intended for players rated 2550 and over, meaning there are no easy games. The winner qualifies for the Dortmund supertournament in July.
The German Chess League (Schachbundesliga) is a 16-team all-play-all event that features some of the world's best players, including Fabiano Caruana and Vishy Anand. Most weekends teams are split in venues across Germany, but for three rounds a year they all come together in one venue. This year that will again be Berlin, for Rounds 9-11, while the Women's Bundesliga will have its season finale. On Saturday 2nd there's also the 2nd edition of the Emanuel Lasker Blitz Tournament.
The Saint Louis Chess Club continues its tradition of organising strong round-robin tournaments for players currently at a level slightly below the world elite, and this edition is topped by the one and only Vassily Ivanchuk, who turns 50 a week after the event.
The World Team Championship is a biennial team tournament whose all-play-all format among 10 teams means that it can be tougher to win than the Olympiad. The teams eligible to play are in the open section are China, Azerbaijan, Iran, USA, Egypt, Russia, Poland, England, Kazakhstan and India. And in the women's section: Russia, China, USA, Egypt, Ukraine, Georgia, Hungary, Armenia, Kazakhstan and India.
A new event on the chess calendar organised by the Novoborsky Chess Club. 2700 players (and club members) Harikrishna, David Navara and Radek Wojtaszek are already confirmed for the 10-player Masters Tournament, while there will also be a 10-player Challengers event, with the winner qualifying for the Masters in 2020.
A strong 9-round open tournament whose participants in 2019 include Wang Hao, Ivan Cheparino, Loek van Wely, Gukesh and Antoaneta Stefanova.
The European Championship is a prestigious event in its own right, but nowadays it mainly functions as a qualifier for the World Cup. 22 places are up for grabs in the knockout tournament later in the year.
For years now the US Chess Championship and US Women's Chess Championship have been the strongest, most lucrative and most professionally broadcast national chess championships. Leinier Dominguez is making his debut alongside Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Hikaru Nakamura and defending champion Sam Shankland now that his switch from the Cuban to the US Chess Federation is complete.
The 3rd edition of the Sharjah Masters is again a 9-round open with $15,000 on offer for first place. Wang Hao, Le Quang Liem and Vladimir Fedoseev start as the top seeds.
The 6th edition of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir will again this year feature both 3-time winner Magnus Carlsen and 2-time winner Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. They're joined by Ding Liren, Anish Giri, Viswanathan Anand, Alexander Grischuk, Teimour Radjabov, Sergey Karjakin, Veselin Topalov and David Navara in a 9-round classical round-robin.
The 21st Dubai Open is a 9-round open with a $13,000 top prize, with many of the players, such as top seeds Wang Hao, Le Quang Liem and Maxim Matlakov, making the very short trip straight from the Sharjah Masters.
The 19th edition of the Bangkok Chess Club Open is taking place in Bangkok itself this year, and is again likely to see our very own Jan Gustafsson play his annual tournament in the company of some other top players.
The 34th edition of the 9-round Reykjavik Open is again being held in the Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland's capital city. David Navara is among the confirmed participants.
An 11-round tournament to decide the 2019 European Women's Champion and, most likely, qualifiers for the next Women's World Cup.
The GRENKE Chess Open is a huge 9-round Swiss event taking place in the Congress Centre in Karlsruhe over the Easter weekend. The top seed so far this year is Nikita Vitiugov, with the winner taking home 20,000 euros and a place in the 2020 GRENKE Chess Classic.
A team tournament held in two categories, for players 50+ or 65+. Federations can submit multiple teams.
The 3rd edition of the Shenzhen Masters is a 6-player double round-robin featuring Ding Liren, Anish Giri, Yu Yangyi, Dmitry Jakovenko, Harikrishna and Richard Rapport.
The GRENKE Chess Classic is a 10-player all-play-all supertournament featuring World Champion Magnus Carlsen and fellow stars Fabiano Caruana, Vishy Anand, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian and Arkadij Naiditsch. It's set to be a baptism of fire for 14-year-old Vincent Keymer, who qualified by winning the GRENKE Chess Open in 2018. The first 5 rounds will be played in Karlsruhe, before the final 4 rounds are played in Baden-Baden. chess24 will again be the official broadcaster of the event, with a commentary team of Jan Gustafsson and Peter Leko.
The strongest national team championship to take place at one time in one venue. Only the French Top 12 comes close to matching it.
In 2019 this event will expand from 6 to 8 players, who compete over 7 rounds. The participants are Harikrishna, Ivan Saric, Nils Grandelius, Gawain Jones, Parham Maghsoodloo, Nihal Sarin, Tiger Hillarp and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. The venue is changing to Malmö Live.
This will be the 54th edition of the traditional tournament held in memory of the legendary Cuban World Chess Champion Jose Raul Capablanca. Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexey Dreev and Adhiban are among the 6-player field for the 10-round event.
The first leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is a 5-day rapid and blitz tournament taking place in Cote d'Ivoire, Africa. The tour regulars play in three of the five rapid and blitz events and both classical tournaments. The wild cards for this event are Wei Yi, Veselin Topalov and Bassem Amin.
Once again the Polish Open and Women's Championships are taking place in an impressive venue - the trading room of the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Will Radek Wojtaszek get revenge for Jan-Krzysztof Duda taking his title and Polish no. 1 spot last year?
The International Mind Sports Association event in 2019 features three days of rapid chess followed by two days of blitz. Each tournament has 16 players, with separate open and women's events.
The first leg of the new FIDE Grand Prix series. Each leg is a 16-player knockout with a €130,000 prize fund, with an additional €280,000 on offer based on the overall standings after all four events. The main goal is to win one of two qualifying places for the 2020 Candidates Tournament.
A big team championship featuring the 12 best teams in France, who play each other over 11 rounds.
Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand and Ding Liren are the confirmed players for a 2-day rapid tournament taking place in a very unusual venue - the Lindores Abbey Distillery in Scotland. The organisers note that monks played chess in the venue 500 years ago, and are releasing a special whisky to mark the event.
There's a revolution in women's chess, as an 8-player Candidates Tournament will now determine the next challenger for a match against Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun. The players are Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, Ekaterina Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Tan Zhongyi, Nana Dzagnidze, Valentina Gunina and Aleksandra Goryachkina, who qualified as the first reserve after Hou Yifan, currently studying at Oxford University, declined her invitation.
This year's Altibox Norway Chess will be the first elite classical round-robin to trial a radical approach to the "problem" of draws in chess. A winner of a classical game gets 2 points, but if the game is drawn the players then immediately switch to Armageddon, with the winner getting 1.5 points and the loser 0.5 points. Magnus Carlsen is among the players confirmed to be taking part.
The 20th edition of the Anatoly Karpov tournament will again be a 10-player single round-robin this year, featuring Vladislav Artemiev, Dmitry Jakovenko, Vladimir Fedoseev, Wang Hao, Krishnan Sasikiran, Rauf Mamedov, Anton Korobov, Ivan Saric, Vladislav Kovalev and Andrey Esipenko.
The Asian Continental Championships are 9-round Open and Women's tournaments, with five players from the open event qualifying for the 2019 World Cup, while the winner of the women's event qualifies for the 2020 Women's World Cup. The top seeds in the open event are Vidit, Le Quang Liem, Adhiban, Firouzja and Maghsoodloo.
The Summer Chess Classic features three 6-player double round-robins, with the A Group approaching super-tournament status. It features Duda, Shankland, Gawain Jones, Le Quang Liem, Xiong and Swiercz.
This is the resurrection of a tournament once won by the likes of Bobby Fischer and Jan Timman. The Masters is a 10-player round-robin featuring Dominguez, Svidler, Dubov, Rodshtein, McShane, Nabaty, Gelfand, Eljanov, Postny and Smirin, while there will also be an open, with Anton Korobov currently the top seed. The games will be played in the Netanya Stadium, with a prize fund of $100,000 and $25,000 for first place in the Masters. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich appears to be one of the sponsors.
The second leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is an 11-round classical tournament with a $325,000 prize fund. It's set to feature all of the regular tour players.
The extremely tough qualifier for the Russian Championship Superfinal that will take place later in the year (dates and venue not yet announced).
This tournament on the South China Sea island of Hainan is an 8-player event featuring Vladislav Artemiev, Yu Yangyi, Richard Rapport, Wei Yi, Wang Hao, Vidit, Bassem Amin and Ernesto Inarkiev.
Vassily Ivanchuk, Nihal Sarin, Parham Maghsoodloo and Jaime Santos compete in a rapid and blitz knockout tournament with semi-finals on Friday and Saturday before a final showdown on Sunday.
Perhaps the world's best funded and broadcast junior championship, with a combined $30,900 in prize money for the two events. 17-year-old US Women's Chess Champion Jennifer Yu will play in the open section.
A new event in Saint Louis offering ten 50+ US players the chance to compete for $50,000, with $12,000 for 1st place. 3-time US Champion Larry Christiansen starts as the top seed.
Ian Nepomniachtchi is the defending champion for the 47th edition of the traditional chess tournament in Dortmund. 10-time winner Vladimir Kramnik is missing after his retirement, with the field completed by Radjabov, Dominguez, Rapport, Wojtaszek, Nisipeanu, Fridman and Kaido Kulaots, who qualified by winning the Aeroflot Open.
The second leg of the new FIDE Grand Prix series. Each leg is a 16-player knockout with a €130,000 prize fund, with an additional €280,000 on offer based on the overall standings after all four events. The main goal is to win one of two qualifying places for the 2020 Candidates Tournament.
A big 10-round summer open that usually attracts some very strong players.
The 2018 51st edition of the tournament in Biel saw Shakhriyar Mamedyarov win ahead of Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. For the 52nd edition the 8-player field is Sam Shankland, Vidit, Cori, Leko, Maghsoodloo, Abdusattorov, Bogner and Georgiadis. They play each other once in classical and rapid chess and twice in blitz.
In 2018 the British Championship titles were won by 6-time champion Mickey Adams and 8-time champion Jovanka Houska.
The third leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is a 5-day rapid and blitz tournament. The tour regulars play in three of the five rapid and blitz events and both classical tournaments. The wild cards for this event are Alexander Grischuk, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Daniil Dubov.
The fourth leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is a 5-day rapid and blitz tournament. The tour regulars play in three of the five rapid and blitz events and both classical tournaments.
The 2019 Russian Championship Superfinals will take place in two venues in the Russian region of Udmurtia. Once again 12-player open and women's events will be held simultaneously.
The fifth leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is now an 11-round classical tournament with a $325,000 prize fund. It's set to feature all the regular tour participants.
The 2018 edition of the French Championships gave us two surprise winners: Tigram Gharamian and Pauline Guichard.
The annual World Youth Championships for the Under 8, U10 and U12 age categories.
Garry Kasparov will once again be back at the chessboard to play in the $200,000 Champions Showdown. His opponent for six 30 minute, 10-second delay rapid games and 14 5+5 blitz games will be world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana. The other three matches are So-Topalov, Dominguez-Svidler and Nakamura-Aronian.
This 12-player round-robin is the 1st of four Women's Grand Prix events that will determine two places in the 2021 Women's Candidates Tournament. The series consists of 16 players who compete in 3 of the 4 events. The top prize is 15,000 euros, with another 20,000 euros for the overall winner of the series.
The biennial World Cup is probably the most anticipated chess event of 2019, with 128 players set to compete for the title and two places in the 2020 Candidates Tournament. Apart from World Champion Magnus Carlsen and world no. 2 Fabiano Caruana (who already has a place in the Candidates) almost all the top players are in action, including world no. 3 and 2017 finalist Ding Liren.
The annual World Youth Championship for the Under 14, U16 and U18 age categories.
This year the 9-round Swiss on the Isle of Man will be a 160-player event to determine a single place in the 2020 Candidates Tournament to select Magnus Carlsen's next challenger. It might still be sufficient to finish second, however, since Magnus himself will play.
A week in which Russian players battle it out in both individual and team rapid and blitz tournaments. Traditionally Vladislav Artemiev wins almost everything.
The most prestigious prize in junior chess, with players 20 and under competing in 11-round open and women's tournaments to determine the 2019 World Junior Champions.
This year the traditional Dutch chess event sees an open tournament as well as 6-game classical matches between 16-year-old Iranian prodigy Alireza Firouzja and Peru's Jorge Cori, and 19-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik from Kazakhstan and Dutch chess legend Jan Timman.
A 9-round biennial team event open to all the European Chess Federations. The defending champions are Azerbaijan, in the open category, and Russia, among the women.
After a match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura was held in 2018 the plan this year is to expand and hold a World Championship style event open to all online before a knockout tournament takes place in Norway. The World Champion will be seeded through to the semi-final stage.
The sixth leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is a 5-day rapid and blitz tournament. The tour regulars play in three of the five rapid and blitz events and both classical tournaments.
The third leg of the new FIDE Grand Prix series. Each leg is a 16-player knockout with a €130,000 prize fund, with an additional €280,000 on offer based on the overall standings after all four events. The main goal is to win one of two qualifying places for the 2020 Candidates Tournament.
The annual Open and Women's European Club Cups are open to qualifying club teams from across Europe. It's a 7-round Swiss Open, with Peter Svidler's Mednyi Vsadnik from St. Petersburg the reigning champions.
The World Individual Senior Chess Championship is help in open and women's categories for players aged 50+ and 65+.
The seventh leg of the new-look 12-player Grand Chess Tour is a 5-day rapid and blitz tournament. The tour regulars play in three of the five rapid and blitz events and both classical tournaments.
The European Women's Blitz Championship on November 29th is a Swiss Open played over 13 rounds of 3+2 blitz. The Rapid Championship on November 30th and December 1st is played over 11 rounds of 15+10 rapid chess.
We'll keep this calendar updated throughout the year as new tournament details emerge. To watch all the games live check out our Live Tournaments page!
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