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General Jul 20, 2022 | 9:04 AMby Tarjei Svensen

Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi in Zagreb GCT opening game

The $175,000 SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz kicks off with a bang in Zagreb, Croatia today as World Champion Magnus Carlsen faces his challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in Round 1.

Magnus Carlsen made a few moves against Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

The Rapid & Blitz event will run until July 24 in the Croatian capital and sees 10 of the world's top players face off in 9 rounds of rapid chess and 18 rounds of blitz.

Many chess fans will be particularly eager to see Magnus Carlsen return to the chessboard for the first time since winning Norway Chess at the end of May, as he makes his debut in this year's Grand Chess Tour.

One highlight will be his clash with 19-year-old prodigy Alireza Firouzja, who has been touted as a future successor to Carlsen's throne.

Perhaps just as exciting is the pairing that sees Carlsen face his World Championship challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi already in Round 1 today.

The Norwegian is yet to announce his decision on whether he will play his sixth title match, but will certainly receive questions about it during the event.

Other players who are expected to fight for the top spots are current Grand Chess Tour leader, and 2021 winner, Wesley So, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who tends to excel in speed chess.

The schedule is as usual three days of three rounds of rapid chess, followed by two days of nine rounds of all-play-all blitz.

Carlsen has great memories from Zagreb, having scored one of the most impressive results of his career as he won the Grand Chess Tour event with 8/11 in 2019.

At an Opening Ceremony on Tuesday Carlsen played a few moves with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, with Garry Kasparov, who holds a Croatian passport, making the first move.

The $175,000 tournament is the third on this year's Grand Chess Tour, after a classical event in Bucharest and rapid and blitz in Warsaw were won by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Jan-Krzysztof Duda respectively.

chess24 will have live coverage of the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz in Croatia from Jan Gustafsson and Lawrence Trent.

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