Today’s announcement by FIDE sets out the dates of the tournaments as follows:
The winner and runner-up would qualify for the next Candidates Tournament, which is penciled in for 9-28 March 2016.
The series will involve 16 players, with those currently qualified as follows:
The four host cities will also nominate a player (e.g. Rustam Kasimdzhanov looks a sure-fire nominee for Tashkent), as will the FIDE President.
Going by past experience we can be sure that many of the star names will skip the Grand Prix (the World Championship match essentially makes the event impossible for Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand), meaning that the reserve list of players will come into effect. Currently that consists of three names, all based on average ratings:
Each tournament will still be a 12-player round robin, but there are a number of significant changes compared to the previous Grand Prix series:
The last Grand Prix series opened with a fanfare as AGON’s Andrew Paulson had ambitious plans for the new World Championship cycle:
Agon will be bringing the World Chess Championships to European capital cities, as part of its commitment to bring a sustainable business model to the sport.
Ultimately, however, a
series of last-minute replacements saw Lisbon, Madrid and Berlin switched for
Zug (Switzerland), Thessaloniki (Greece) and Beijing (China). This time round
the focus is far from Western Europe, with Tehran in particular a potential
stumbling block for some players. Although Iran’s foreign relations have
improved of late, some countries still issue cautions about travelling there.
For instance, the US
Department of State “warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of
travel to Iran”, while the UK advises “against all but essential travel” to most
of Iran. Israel's Boris Gelfand is one player we can also safely assume would not make the trip.
The players are allowed to give cities in order of preference, although only four can sit out each event and FIDE offers no guarantees that preferences can be acted upon.
We're likely to have a clearer picture of how the Grand Prix will look soon, since the deadline for players to sign their contracts is the 27th August.
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