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General Dec 15, 2020 | 9:08 AMby Colin McGourty

Carlsen, So & Nakamura back for Airthings Masters

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will be out for revenge against Champions Chess Tour leader Wesley So when the first Major of the tour kicks off on December 26th. The 12-player tournament runs until January 3rd and has a $200,000 prize fund, with the winner picking up $60,000 and a guaranteed place in the grand final next September. Airthings, who produce world-leading radon and indoor air quality monitors, is partnering with the Tour and will measure the air quality in the players’ homes as they play.

All-star lineup for the Airthings Masters

We’re thrilled to announce the field for the second event on the $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour, the Airthings Masters, which features 8 of the world’s top 11 players according to the classical rating list. The average rating is 2761 and the average age 30.6.

#Airthings Masters PlayerFEDClassicalRankRapidRankAge
1Magnus Carlsen286212881130
2Ian Nepomniachtchi278442778930
3Maxime Vachier-Lagrave278452860230
4Levon Aronian278162778838
5Alexander Grischuk277772784737
6Wesley So2770927412127
7Teimour Radjabov27651027581433
8Anish Giri27641127312426
9Hikaru Nakamura2736202829433
10Pentala Harikrishna27322227053434
11Daniil Dubov27023727701224
12David Anton26756026677225

The lineup includes the eight players who qualified as the top 8 on the Champions Chess Tour after the first event, the Skilling Open, which was won by Wesley So after a thrilling final victory over Magnus Carlsen.

Those players are joined by Spanish Champion David Anton, who was voted back into the Airthings Masters despite finishing outside the qualifying places, and Russian 3-time World Blitz Champion Alexander Grischuk, who won the second public vote among chess24 premium members.

They’re also joined by two wild cards, Russia’s Daniil Dubov, who was the only player other than Magnus to win an event on the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, and India’s Pentala Harikrishna, who has been ranked as high as world no. 10.

Double the prize fund

The prize fund for the first Major on the Champions Chess Tour is $200,000, double that for Regular events like the Skilling Open, with the top prize rising to $60,000. One difference this time is that there will also be a match for 3rd place, to run in parallel with the final.

The winner is guaranteed a place in the Champions Chess Tour Finals next September, while the top 8 players in the overall tour standings after the Airthings Masters will automatically be invited back to the next 16-player Regular event on the tour in February 2021.

Bridging Christmas and the New Year

The Airthings Masters will be a Christmas and New Year treat for chess fans as it runs without a rest day from Boxing Day, December 26th to January 3rd. Once again there’s a 3-day preliminary stage where the players play each other once over 11 rounds at rapid chess (15+10), before the top 8 players go forward to the knockout.

The knockout stage is exactly as in the Skilling Open with each match played over two days, with four rapid games each day. If the match score is 1:1 after the second day the players switch to two 5+3 blitz games followed, if needed, by Armageddon. 

The chess should be over by midnight on New Year’s Eve wherever the players are based since the starting time for this event will be 15:00 CET (09:00 ET), three hours earlier than for the Skilling Open.

Breathe better, play better?

Airthings will be the title partner of the Airthings Masters and the Official Air Quality Partner for the full first season of the Tour. Airthings will monitor and stream the air quality levels in the players’ homes to raise awareness about the importance of good indoor air and how it impacts our cognitive abilities, decision making, and health.  

World Chess Champions Magnus Carlsen commented:

Chess players expect perfect conditions during tournaments. Normally, the air quality is taken care of by those who organise the tournaments, and the conditions are the same for everyone. But, since we play separately, we have to take responsibility for this ourselves.

By monitoring the air quality in the room, we can ensure that the air we breathe is good. I think it will be important to maintain a high level throughout the tournament.

Andreas Thome, CEO of the Play Magnus Group, said:

For players, the Champions Chess Tour demands high-stakes decision-making, often under time pressure. It is going to be fascinating to see how the world's best perform in the Airthings Masters while at the same time being able to see in real-time how the conditions are different in each of their homes using Airthings’ technology.

Oyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings, highlighted the importance of air quality:

For chess, esports, and gamers, concentration is key, and with players sitting for hours in a room, the air they breathe plays a key role in how well they perform, make decisions, and reason. By monitoring the air quality in the room, chess players can make sure the air they breathe is as healthy as can be and that they stay on top of their game throughout a tournament.

The Airthings Masters logo

All the logos for the Champions Chess Tour are graphical representations of particular chess games. The Skilling Open logo was produced by 13-year-old Bobby Fischer’s Game of the Century, while the Airthings Masters logo was chosen by a vote.

The winner was the brilliant attacking game that gave Wesley So victory over Hikaru Nakamura in the semi-finals of the Skilling Open.

The best live chess coverage around

The Airthings Masters will be broadcast live in languages that include English, Spanish, German, French, Russian, Turkish, Italian and Portuguese, with TV channel NRK showing the action in Norway while Eurosport streams live in over 60 markets around the world. Here on chess24 we’ll again have multiple streams in English, catering for everyone from beginners to seasoned chess fans. You don't want to miss it!

David Howell, Jovanka Houska and Kaja Snare will be back in our Oslo studio

See also:

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