Top 10 Chess Events | Tournaments to watch every Calendar Year

Chess is a game on the rise, a global sport cherished across the world. Millions of people play it online everyday, especially after the popularity boost from ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ series, and the impact of events like the COVID-19 pandemic—during which people had ample time to spare—has propelled chess to even greater heights in recent times.

With this increased attention, it’s worth delving into the most prominent chess events of the year. In this blog post, I will be highlighting the top chess events of the year, some of which are held every other year.

Top 10 Chess Events in Calendar Year

RankEvent NamePrize Money
1The Candidates Tournament$4.2million, split in 8 players
2World Championship$2million (60-40) b/w winner and loser
3World Corporate Chess Championship$1.6million
4FIDE World Cup$1,890,000
5FIDE Women’s World Cup$676,000
6FIDE chess.com Isle of man Grand Swiss$425,000
7Sinquefield Cup$325,000
8Paris Rapid & Blitz$150,000
9Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz$150,000
10European Individual Championship100.000 EUROS

1. World Championship

World Championship is by far the biggest chess event for the importance it holds. It’s an event that decides the best chess player in the world. A series of Classical matches are played between the current world champion and winner of the Candidates tournament (the challenger).

World Championship is played once every 2 years.

Number of Rounds in World Chess Championship:

Normally there are 14 games played between the world champion and the challenger. And if the score remains tied at 7.0/7.0, further games are played but in Rapid format followed by Blitz if the score still remains tied. Ultimately Armageddon is the last option but world championship never went this far.

Venue

The place of next World Chess Championship is yet to be decided. Last one was played in Astana, Kazakhstan between Nepo and Ding. Ding Li Ren won that event in the tie breaks after classical event.

Prize Money

The prize fund of last world championship was US$2million split 60/40 between winner and loser.

2. The Candidates Tournament

Candidates tournament is the 2nd most important event in the chess calendar played once every 2 years.

8 players qualify for Candidates from different chess events:

  • 3 from the FIDE World Cup
  • 1 from The FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament
  • The top 2 finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix
  • 1 highest FIDE rated player
  • and a runner up of previous year’s World Championship

Although the criteria for qualification to the Candidates keep changing with time.

Tournament Format

In the Candidates Tournament, every player plays against every player once with white and once with black pieces. A player with the highest score at the end qualifies for the world chess championship.

If there is a tie of scores, head to head high scorer qualifies and if head to head score is also equal, the winner is decided on some further games first by Blitz and if the winner is still not decided, the final solution is to decide the winner by Armageddon.

Prize Money

The table below is the breakdown of last Candidates Tournament prize money distribution.

Player PositionName and NationalityPrize money (in €)
1stIan Nepomniatchi (RUS)48,000 plus 3,500 per half-point
2ndDing Li Ren (CHN)36,000 plus 3,500 per half-point
3rdTeimour Radjabov (AZE)24,000 plus 3,500 per half-point
4thHikaru Nakamura (USA)3,500 per half-point
5thFabiano Caruana (USA)3,500 per half-point
6thAlireza Firouzja (FRA)3,500 per half-point
7thJan Krzysztof Duda (POL)3,500 per half-point
8thRichard Rapport (HUN)3,500 per half-point

Venue

The Candidates’ tournament was played in Madrid in Spain last year.

3. World Corporate Chess Championship

This year the world corporate chess championship’s inaugural tournament was played. It was a team event in which fortune 500 companies represented themselves with their teams.

Grenke Bank is the champions of the inaugural world corporate chess championship among the fortune 500 companies.

The German team lead by GM Georg Meier defeated top seed SBER (with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi on top board winning from GM Georg Meier) in the final’s second match. Nepo was playing with Black pieces and he won because the German GM played inaccurately in an English opening Symmetrical line.

Venue

The tournament was organized by Chess.com online between 19th and 20th February.

4. Women’s World Cup

FIDE Women’s World Cup is the biggest chess event for women in terms of prize money. This year, it is also important because among 103 female contestants 3 will qualify to play directly into the FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament 2021.

Venue

Women’s Chess World Cup will be played in Sochi, Russia this year.

5. European Individual Championship

European Individual Championship is a tournament on the chess calendar every alternate year.

The 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID and is now scheduled to be played between Thu, Aug 26, 2021 – Sun, Sep 5, 2021.

European Individual Championship is important because it is seen as a qualifier for the world cup and in case of further delay or cancellation, this year’s tournament if not played on the newly scheduled dates will be served as a qualifier for the 2023 world cup.

Venue

European Individual Championship will be played in Reykjavik, Iceland this year.

6. Paris Rapid & Blitz

Date: June 16-23

Venue: Paris, France

The Grand Chess Tour segments extend to the rapid and blitz tournament that will be held in Paris towards the mid of June.

7. FIDE World Cup

The tournament is scheduled to start on the 10th of July and 206 players are participating in it.

The top 50 players will play Round 2. And finalists will qualify for the Candidates Tournament. The number of games in the final is reduced to 2 from the previous 4. Game duration will remain the same as the other rounds. And if it went to a tie break, games will be followed by rapid and blitz playoffs.

Check out our guide on FIDE World Cup.

Venue

FIDE World Cup just like the women’s FIDE world cup will be played in Sochi, Russia this year.

8. Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz

Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz will be played between Aug 16-28 2021. These two events are also a part of the Grand Chess tour and are a good lure for top chess players in the world for the prize money of $150,000 it has.

Venue

Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz tournaments will be played in St. Louis, USA

9. Sinquefield Cup

Sinquefield cup is the classical segment of the 2021 Grand Chess Tour. This year, it will be played between Aug 16-28. A prize of $325,000 is good enough to lure all the top chess talent in the world. It’s an invite-only tournament.

Venue

Like every year, Sinquefield Cup will be played in the chess capital of the USA, St. Louis.

10. FIDE chess.com Isle of man Grand Swiss

Isle of man Grand Swiss tournament this year will be played between Oct 25-Nov 8.

It is part of the qualifying cycle for the World Championship 2021. For the 2nd time since the inaugural tournament in 2019, the FIDE Grand Swiss will be hosted by the British Crown dependency State the Isle Of Man.

Also, this year it will be the most expensive and strongest swiss tournament in chess history, with 164 top players playing and staggering prize money of $425,000 on the stack.

The inaugural FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss is also scheduled side by side with the top 50 female players in line. The prize money of the FIDE Women’s chess.com Isle of man Grand Swiss tournament is $125,000. The finalists will appear for the Candidates Chess tournament.

Venue

Douglas, Isle of Man

That’s all in the top 10 chess events of the Calendar year. Which one is your favourite? Share your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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