General May 8, 2020 | 12:00 PMby chess24 staff

Carlsen and Lagno star in Steinitz Memorial

World Blitz Chess Champions Magnus Carlsen and Kateryna Lagno are the top seeds for the FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial, a 20-player blitz event taking place over the weekend of 15-17 May in memory of the 1st official World Chess Champion, Wilhelm Steinitz. The two 10-player double round-robin tournaments have a combined prize fund of 30,000 euros. All games will be played on chess24 and broadcast live with commentary in multiple languages.


Wilhelm Steinitz was born on May 14, 1836 and was the first undisputed World Chess Champion from 1886, when he beat Johannes Zukertort, to 1894, when he lost to Emanuel Lasker (read more about Steinitz in our chess24 profile). FIDE and chess24 have combined to celebrate his legacy with a blitz tournament that includes the 16th undisputed World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich commented:

Steinitz is the first official World Chess Champion, and with him began a long tradition lasting to our day. He was also a revolutionary, who created a whole new school of chess: 'positional play' was a concept that didn't exist before him. His historic 25 game winning streak, or his 32 years undefeated in match play, speak volumes about his caliber as a player. He was also a celebrated author and publicist. All this is his legacy, a legacy to which we pay tribute today. 

We are very proud to have Magnus Carlsen taking part in this event, as a worthy heir of this long lineage of champions. Probably Magnus understands better than anyone that the role of a World Champion implies certain responsibilities, and he has always been on the frontline when it comes to giving chess the role it deserves in our society. It is safe to say that Steinitz would have been proud of him.

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen added:

Organising the FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial is a nice way to commemorate (or honour) the first official World Chess Champion and to highlight the significance of the strong tradition his match against Zukertort started for modern chess history.


What’s the format?

The FIDE Online Steinitz Memorial consists of two 10-player tournaments, one open and one for women. Each player will play each other twice over 18 rounds of blitz where the players have 3 minutes for all moves and a 2-second increment after every move.

If there’s a tie for 1st place after 18 rounds, the two players with the best tiebreaks will play a single Armageddon game, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4 but a draw means that the player with Black wins the tournament.   

Who’s playing?

The line-ups aren’t yet 100% finalised but World Champion and 5-time World Blitz Champion Magnus Carlsen will top the open section. He’s joined by 3-time World Blitz Champion Alexander Grischuk, 2013 World Blitz Champion Le Quang Liem and star players such as Peter Svidler and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

2018 and 2019 Women’s World Blitz Champion Kateryna Lagno heads the women’s line-up, with former Women’s World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk, Antoaneta Stefanova and Tan Zhongyi, and 2018 World Blitz silver medalist Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, all in action.

What’s at stake?

The total prize fund is 30,000 euros, with 18,000 for the open section (4,500 for 1st) and 12,000 for the women’s section (3,000 for 1st). One innovation is that half of the prize money is paid out on a game-by-game basis, with every point in the open section worth an extra 100 euros (70 euros in the women's section), meaning there’s something to play for in every game.

Where is it being played?

All games will be played on the chess24 Playzone.

When is it taking place?

The schedule is as follows, with all times CEST:

Friday, May 15th

Rounds 1-6 Women: 15:00 – 18:15
Rounds 1-6 Open: 18:30 – 21:30

Saturday, May 16th

Rounds 7-12 Women: 15:00 - 18:15
Rounds 7-12 Open: 18:30 – 21:30

Sunday, May 17th

Rounds 13-18 Women: 15:00 – 18:15
Rounds 13-18 Open: 18:30 – 21:30

Where can I watch?

The games will be broadcast live with commentary in multiple languages right here on chess24 from May 15th: Open | Women 


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