General Mar 24, 2021 | 10:57 AMby Colin McGourty

2021 Chess Calendar

The 2020 Chess Calendar was laid to waste by the coronavirus epidemic, though the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and other online events rose from the ashes. 2021 is guaranteed to see the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour played out in monthly events until the Grand Final in September, but if the virus permits it’s a year that could also see the Candidates Tournament completed, a World Championship match, two World Cups, two Grand Swisses, the Grand Chess Tour and much more.


We’ve tried to gather together all the events that are currently known about for 2021. It goes without saying, of course, that all the over-the-board events are subject to change or cancellation depending on how the virus situation around the world develops.


Current and upcoming tournaments:

June 2021

June 4 - July 10 | San Fermin Banter Blitz Cup | chess24

A series of eight 3-day 8-player knockouts will select 8 players for a final round-robin tournament, where the top two players gain qualification either into a stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour or the San Fermin World Cup, an event organised by the Spanish city of Pamplona and featuring World Champion Magnus Carlsen. For the qualifying tournaments the players must commentate while they play!


Links: chess24: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, Final

June 5 – 14 | Superbet Chess Classic | Bucharest, Romania

The 1st event on the 2021 Grand Chess Tour, which plans to follow the cancelled plan for 2020 of having five events and no Grand Final. The tournament in Bucharest is a 12-player classical event featuring the main tour players, with a $325,000 prize fund.

Levon Aronian won the first Superbet tournament when it was held as a rapid and blitz event in 2019 | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

Links: Grand Chess Tour, chess24

June 10 - 13 | Gelfand Challenge | chess24

The 2nd event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour sees 10 young male and 10 female players compete for $15k in prizes and a place in the 7th leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The event is a 4-day round-robin with all games played at a 10+5 time control. The players are split into two teams and mentored by Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.  

Links: official websitechess24 

June 14 - 20 | Prague Chess Festival | Prague, Czech Republic

The 2nd edition of the Prague Masters, won by Alireza Firouzja, was the last major chess tournament to be completed in 2020 before the virus shut down chess life. A 3rd edition, again with a Masters, Challengers and Open, is planned for 2021, but the dates have been pushed back to June due to the virus situation.

Links: official website   

June 18 – 22 | Paris Rapid & Blitz | Paris, France

The 2nd leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour 

June 26 - July 4 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 7 | chess24

The 7th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the 4th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

July 2021

July 7 – 11 | Croatia Rapid & Blitz | Zagreb, Croatia

The 3rd leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour 

July 10 - 18 | Dortmund Chess Days | Dortmund, Germany


The centrepiece of this year's event in Dortmund will be a 4-game classical match between 14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik and his successor Vishy Anand, played in the No-Castling Chess variant promoted by Kramnik. That event will be accompanied by a 10-player round-robin German Grand Prix that pits the top German players against international opponents. Those events start on the 13th, while an open will be held online from 10-18 July. 

Links: official website

July 12 - August 6 | FIDE World Cup | Sochi, Russia

An expanded 206-player World Cup knockout tournament is provisionally planed to start in Sochi on July 10th, with the 50 top seeds starting their campaigns from Round 2. The prize fund has been raised to $1.89 million, with the two finalists both qualifying for the next Candidates Tournament. The final is this time cut from four games to two, the same length as all the other rounds (with rapid and blitz playoffs in case of a tie).  

A Women's World Cup is planned to be held at the same time with 103 players, a $676,000 prize fund and three places in the Women's Candidates Tournament at stake.

Links: FIDE 

July 13 - 14 | San Fermin World Cup | chess24/Pamplona

The final of the San Fermin World Cup will feature World Champion Magnus Carlsen and three more invited players taking in an 8-player knockout where the remaining four players have qualified through a series of preceding events. The prize fund is €50,000. 

July 15 - 18 | Hou Yifan Challenge | chess24

The 3rd event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour sees 10 young male and 10 female players compete for $15k in prizes and a place in the 8th leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The event is a 4-day round-robin with all games played at a 10+5 time control. The players are split into two teams and mentored by Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.  

Links: official websitechess24 

July 15 - 26 | US Junior, Girls and Senior Championships | Saint Louis, USA

This is hoped to be the return to regular top level over-the-board chess in the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Links: official website

July 24 - August 4 | Biel Chess Festival | Biel/Bienne, Switzerland

The Biel Chess Festival was one of the first top level tournaments to be held successfully after coronavirus restrictions eased in summer 2020, and it plans to be back for a 54th edition in 2021. In recent years it’s experimented with combining classical, rapid and blitz chess.

Radek Wojtaszek won the 2020 Biel Chess GM event ahead of Harikrishna & Adams | photo: Biel International Chess Festival

Links: official website

July 31 - August 8 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 8 | chess24

The 8th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the 5th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

August 2021

August 11 – 15 | St. Louis Rapid & Blitz | Saint Louis, USA

The 4th leg of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 5-day rapid and blitz tournament will have a $150,000 prize fund.

Links: Grand Chess Tour 

August 12 - 15 | Kramnik Challenge | chess24

The 4th event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour sees 10 young male and 10 female players compete for $15k in prizes and a place in the 9th leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The event is a 4-day round-robin with all games played at a 10+5 time control. The players are split into two teams and mentored by Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.  

Links: official websitechess24 

August 17 – 26 | Sinquefield Cup | Saint Louis, USA

The 8th edition of the Sinquefield Cup is the 5th and final stage of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. The 12-player classical event has a $325,000 prize fund and will also finalise who wins the additional $175,000 in prize money for the overall tour standings.

Links: Grand Chess Tour 

August 26 - September 5 | European Individual Championship | Reykjavik, Iceland

The Reykjavik Open had to be cancelled in 2020 while in 2021 the plan is for the main event of the Festival to serve as the European Championship, potentially boosting the prestige of a tournament that has largely been viewed as a qualifier for the World Cup. The event has already now been postponed twice due to the virus situation but will now see players qualify for the 2023 World Cup rather than the 2021 World Cup. 

Reykjavik's iconic Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is the planned venue for the event | photo: official website

Links: official website

August 28 – September 5 | Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 9 | chess24

The 9th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the 6th Regular event, with 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund. This will be the last chance for players to qualify for the Grand Final.

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

September 2021

September 7 - 18 | Norway Chess | Stavanger, Norway

World Champion Magnus Carlsen is set to face his challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi just two months before their World Championship match begins in Dubai. The 6-player field also features Alireza Firouzja, Sergey Karjakin, Richard Rapport and Aryan Tari, with chess24 again the official broadcast partner. 

Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja are likely to battle it out again - it's not clear if Magnus will still be practising his most intimidating social-distanced greetings... | photo: Lennart Ootes, official website

Links: official website

September 7 - 10 | Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX | Saint Louis, USA

This annual contest in Chess960 or Fischer Random Chess is back. In 2020 it was an online 10-player round-robin won by Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, but the star of the show was again a certain Garry Kasparov. 

On September 7th we'll see Ultimate Moves, an exhibition event where the emphasis is firmly on banter and having some fun.   

Links: official website 

September 18 - 24 | European Club Cup | Ohrid, North Macedonia

An Online European Chess Club Cup was held in March 2021, but the over-the-board event is planned to return in September with Open and Women's events. Traditionally it's a 7-round sprint between European club teams.  


Links: official website

Sep 25 – Oct 3 |  Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Final | San Francisco, USA

The Grand Final of the 2021 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour will be a $300,000 10-player round-robin featuring the top players on the tour. It's going to be held in the San Francisco headquarters of the tour's name sponsors Meltwater. The players will be handicapped based on their performance over the year. 

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour

September 26 - October 3 | Women's World Team Championship | Sitges, Spain

This year's FIDE Women's World Team Championship tries out a new format with 12 teams initially separated into two groups of six. A round-robin tournament sees the bottom two in each group eliminated, before the remaining teams play an 8-team knockout event. The main time control is the unusual 45 minutes for all moves plus a 10-second increment per move. Tiebreaks are played at 3+2 blitz, with possible Armageddon.  

October 5 - 19 | US Chess Championships | Saint Louis, USA

The 12-player US Championship and US Women's Championship are arguably the most prestigious and certainly the most lucrative national chess championships. Wesley So won online in 2020 but no-one has managed to defend their title since Gata Kamsky in 2014. 

Links: official website

October 2021

October 25 – November 8 | FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss | Douglas, Isle of Man

As in 2019 the traditional open tournament on the Isle of Man will become a FIDE Candidates Tournament qualifier, with the $425,000 main event now offering two places in the Candidates as well as a $70,000 top prize. This year it’s accompanied by a $125,000 FIDE chess.com Women’s Grand Swiss, with 50 players and at least one qualifier to a Women’s Candidates Tournament.   

Links: official website

October-November | 20th Bangkok Chess Club Open | Thailand

The Bangkok Chess Club Open was postponed and then cancelled as global air traffic shut down in 2020. 2-time Champion Jan Gustafsson will be among those hoping things go better in 2021. Update: the scheduled dates of April 10-18 proved impossible due to the pandemic, with the organisers still hoping to arrange the event in October-November, if the pandemic situation allows. 

Links: official website

November 2021

November 11 - 22 | European Team Chess Championship | Terme Olimia, Slovenia

This biennial European event for national chess teams saw Russia claim double gold when it was last held in Batumi, Georgia in 2019.

Links: official website

November 24 - December 16 | World Chess Championship Match | Dubai, UAE

Magnus Carlsen's World Championship title is likely to be on the line in 2021 | photo: Niki Riga

If the Candidates Tournament is successfully completed in the first half of 2021 the plan is to hold the match between the winner and current World Champion Magnus Carlsen in Dubai as part of Expo 2020, which has now been rescheduled to begin on October 1, 2021. It’s already been announced that the match will feature 14 games rather than 12, with a prize fund of at least €2 million.

November 27 - December 5 | European Chess Club Cup | Ohrid, North Macedonia

An annual team event for chess clubs based in Europe, though players can come from around the world.

Links: official website

November 27 – December 5 | European Women’s Chess Club Cup | Monaco

The women’s event is taking place at the same time as the open tournament, but at a different venue.

Links: official website


Finished events:

January 2021

December 26 – January 3 | Airthings Masters | chess24

The second event on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is also the first Major, with a $200,000 prize fund. The winner gets $60,000 and a guaranteed place in the Grand Final. Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Skilling Open winner Wesley So are among the 12-player field, which will be reduced to 8 players by a 3-day preliminary stage. The remaining players will battle it out in a knockout that takes us into 2021.


Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, Airthings Masters games: Prelims, Knockout | Reports: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

January 16 – 31 | Tata Steel Masters | Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands

This year’s 83rd edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament has been cut to just the main event due to COVID-19, but if everything goes as planned that will still mean a 14-player round-robin featuring Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from the world’s Top 5 and a host of young talents that include 17-year-old Alireza Firouzja.

Links: official websitechess24 | Reports: 12345678910111213

February 2021

February 6 - 14 | Opera Euro Rapid | chess24

The $100,000 Opera Euro Rapid is the 3rd stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the 2nd Regular event. World Champion Magnus Carlsen and no. 3 Ding Liren head a 16-player field that includes Skilling Open winner Wesley So and Airthings Masters winner Teimour Radjabov. 

A 3-day all-play-all preliminary stage will eliminate half the field before the remaining 8 play a knockout for the $30,000 top prize and Tour points. The top 8 players in the Tour standings after this event will automatically be invited back to the March Major.   


Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, chess24: PrelimsKnockout, Reports: Preview123456789

February 19-21 | FIDE Online World Corporate Championship | chess.com

The 1st FIDE Online World Corporate Championship is a 3-day team event featuring 4-player teams from almost 300 different companies. Each team must have at least one male and one female player, one player can be invited from outside the company, and only one player can be rated 2500 or above. Magnus Carlsen (Kindred), Ian Nepomniachtchi (SBER) and Anish Giri (Optiver) are among the stars in action.

There are 8 sections which will play Swiss Opens on the first two days, before the 8 winners play a knockout for the title on the final day.

Links: official website, chess24: East AEast BEast CEast DEast EWest AWest B, Reports: Preview1-23

March 2021

March 13 - 21 | Magnus Carlsen Invitational | chess24

The 4th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and the second Major, with 16 players and a $220,000 prize fund. A 3-day preliminary stage will cut the field in half, before the remaining 8 players battle it out in a knockout for the $60,000 top prize. There's a space theme to the event, which partners with Breakthrough Initiatives and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.


Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, chess24: QualifierPrelimsKnockout, Reports: 123456789

March 27 - 31 | European Online Club Cup | Tornelo

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Richard Rapport and many more of the world's top players are in action in an online version of the European Club Cup. The event is played at a rapid time control - 15 minutes for all moves plus a 5-second increment per move - and will see a qualification stage, playoffs and finally a 10-team round-robin to decide the title. 

Links: official website, chess24: A GroupBCDEFGHI, Playoffs ABCFinal, Reports: Days 1-3Day 4

April 2021

April 8 - 11 | Polgar Challenge | chess24

The first event on the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour sees 10 young male and 10 female players compete for $15k in prizes and a place in the 5th leg of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. The event is a 4-day round-robin with all games played at a 10+5 time control. The players will be split into two teams and mentored by Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik.  


Links: official websitechess24, Reports: Preview1234

April 19 - 28 | Candidates Tournament Rounds 8-14 | Yekaterinburg, Russia

The Candidates Tournament that will decide Magnus Carlsen’s next World Championship challenger was started in March 2020 despite a pandemic beginning to take hold around the world. The worst fears of Teimour Radjabov and others proved justified when the event had to be stopped halfway, with Teimour’s late replacement Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joining Ian Nepomniachtchi in the lead. The saga of trying to resume the event had dragged on ever since, but it's now taking place in the same city in April 2021.


Links: official websitechess24, Reports: 891011121314

April 24 - May 2 | New in Chess Classic | chess24

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen tops the line-up for the 5th stage of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, featuring 16 players and a $100,000 prize fund. 15-year-old Indian prodigy Praggnanandhaa makes his debut after qualifying via the Polgar Challenge, while there are also debuts for Gawain Jones, Aryan Tari and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen. Tour leader Wesley So plays, as do the likes of 17-year-old Alireza Firouzja and Hikaru Nakamura. The format is again a 3-day preliminary stage before the remaining 8 players play a knockout for the title.  


Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, chess24: PrelimsKnockout, Reports: 12-3456789

April 29 - May 7 | Polish Championship | Bydgoszcz, Poland

This year's Polish Championship is an over-the-board event with different formats for the Open and Women's tournaments. The Open is a 16-player knockout with two classical games in each match followed, if needed, by rapid and blitz playoffs. The Women's event is a 10-player round-robin. 

Links: official website, chess24: OpenWomen 

April 30 - May 11 | Russian Team Championship | Sochi, Russia

The Russian Team Championship has traditionally been one of the strongest team events in world chess, featuring not only a wealth of Russian talent but strong foreign representatives. This year the event is again likely to be much more dominated by Russian players due to the pandemic. 

Links: official website, chess24: Premier LeagueHigher LeagueWomen's Championship

May 2021

May 7-10 | Indian Qualifier | chess24

16 of the best Indian players compete in a knockout tournament to determine two places in the June Meltwater Champions Chess Tour event. Each match consists of four 15+10 rapid games. If the players are tied 2:2 they play two 5+3 blitz games and, if still tied, a single Armageddon game. 


Links: chess24, Reports: PreviewDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4

May 12 - 16 | Mr Dodgy Invitational 2.0 | chess24

The highly prestigious Mr Dodgy Invitational returns for a 2nd edition, with 16 of the world's top players competing for a photo of the organiser on a horse. Jan Gustafsson and guests commentate on all the action.


Links: official websitechess24, Reports: Preview12345

May 22 - June 2 | Gibraltar FIDE Women's Grand Prix | Gibraltar

The final stage of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix that began in 2019. After the 12-player round-robin is over the top two players in the Grand Prix series as a whole will qualify for the 2022 Candidates Tournament that decides the next Women's World Championship challenger for Ju Wenjun.

Links: official websitechess24, Reports: PreviewConclusion

May 24 - 30 | European Hybrid Qualifier | online/split venues

Since the European Championship had to be postponed due to the pandemic, the European Chess Union has decided to hold a "hybrid" event to decide 36 of the European qualifying spots for the 2021 World Cup. The event will be open to 2600+ rated players, with a limit per federation, and the plan is that the players will play online, but from a central venue in their country where an arbiter will be present. The games will be FIDE rated.

Links: ECU websitechess24

May 23 - 31 | FTX Crypto Cup - Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Leg 6 | chess24


The FTX Crypto Cup is the 6th stage of the Champions Chess Tour and the third and final Major. It features 16 players, including the full world Top 10. That means Magnus Carlsen will face his World Championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi for the first time since Nepo won the Candidates Tournament.

The prize fund of $220,000 is boosted by $100,000 in Bitcoin, while the winner also automatically qualifies for the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour final in San Francisco in September.  

Links: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, chess24: PrelimsKnockout, Reports: Preview123456789


Please let us know in the comments if there are any major events announced for 2021 that we’re currently missing. We’ll be keeping this calendar updated throughout the year – even if the coronavirus again wreaks havoc with the schedule!


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