More than 200 grandmasters to participate in the event
RIYADH, December 26 – King Salman World Chess Championship begins today at Apex Convention Center at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the event for the first time, with the opening ceremony having been held yesterday. The event will continue until December 30.
The first day of the five-day event will see rounds 1-5 of the Rapid category, while rounds 6-10 of the same category will be played tomorrow. On Thursday, rounds 11-15 will be played to mark the conclusion of this class.
The Blitz category will begin on Friday with rounds 1-11. The remaining rounds (12-21) of this category will be played on Saturday, when the closing ceremony will be held at 8.30pm.
More than 200 grandmasters, including the world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, will take part in the tournament. Other major players who have confirmed their participation include the incumbent World Rapid and Blitz Champions Sergey Karjakin of Russia, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, world No. 2 Levon Aronian of Armenia, No. 3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and former World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India.
Arrangements have been made to issue visas upon arrival for the players and officials, including those from Iran and Qatar, according to a press statement issued by the World Chess Federation.
“Saudi is changing very fast and we are happy to be part of this change. It will help the development of chess in Saudi Arabia,” said Geoffrey Borg, Chief Executive Officer, FIDE. “This country can lead the development of chess in the region and in Asia. We hope they participate in global sport and make a global impact on the sport scene. This event serves as an advert of what Saudis are capable of doing.”
Georgios Makropoulos, FIDE Deputy President, expressed hope that Saudi Arabia would host more such sport events. “We are going to enjoy the great hospitality and the highest standard of Saudi Arabia. I hope our sports promote peace among the people around the world. As our motto says, we are one family and we believe in this. We would like to see the world rugby tournament being held here where all will be invited. I think Saudi Arabia can send a strong message of peace and solidarity to the world. This is the beginning of a great effort.”
The championship offers a record total prize fund of US$2,000,000 with the Open events having individual prize funds of US$750,000 each. There will be 30 prizes for each event, with the first prize being $250,000 in the Open Section and $80,000 in the Women’s Section, all new records.
All players rated at least 2600 for the Open and 2300 for the Women, in any of the World Chess Federation rating lists (Standard, Blitz or Rapid) from September 2017 to October 2017 are eligible to participate in the championships, the Federation has noted on its website.
The dress code for the event will be dark blue or black formal suits, with white shirts, either open necked or with a tie, for men and dark blue or black formal trouser suits, with high necked white blouses for women. However, female participants will not have to wear hijab or abaya during the games.
The games and official ceremonies will be broadcasted online with expert Grandmaster commentary and made available to all media partners.