The world’s chess elite gathered in Riga’s Hansas Perons centre for the opening of the 2021 FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss and the inaugural Women’s Grand Swiss. Altogether 158 strong players from all over the world are taking part in the event which will decide the qualifiers for the 2022 Candidates Tournament that will produce the challenger for the title of the World Champion
Dana Reizniece-Ozola, FIDE Managing Director and a Latvian native noted that it is a great honour for her country to be hosting an event of such importance.
Commenting on the current situation in Latvia where a four-week Covid-lockdown was recently introduced, Reizniece-Ozola said she shares the concerns of players and that she feels the frustration caused by the pandemic.
“When all of this was developing I felt like playing a chess game against COVID and taking it on myself”, said Reizniece-Ozola, who is also a Woman Grandmaster.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich noted that the Grand Swiss is “the most important FIDE tournament and not just the qualifying event” as he thanked the players for coming.
By reiterating that FIDE and the organisers have imposed strict health and safety measures for all, Dvorkovich has said that the international chess body wanted to “show our respect to all people in Latvia and everyone involved in this event” concerning the current situation.
FIDE President thanked the Scheinberg Family and Chess.com as well as Coca Cola and the Latvian Chess Federation for sponsoring the event. He expressed FIDE’s gratitude to the Latvian government and the mayor of Riga for hosting the Grand Swiss, as well as to Dana Reizniece-Ozola “who made this event happen”.
“Chess life continues whatever happens. We will do everything possible to ensure the safe conduct of the tournament so that you are free to focus on your games and play well”, Dvorkovich said.
“Thank you, good luck and stay healthy”, FIDE President concluded.
The guests were also greeted by pre-recorded messaged by the Latvian Minister for Education and Science, Anita Muižniece, as well as the mayor of Riga, Mārtiņš Staķis. Both noted the legacy of Mikhail Tal and how important this event is for Riga and Latvia, inviting players to experience the city and thanking them for their participation.
The President of the Latvian Chess Federation, Rejs Mundi, reminded the participants that in 2019 Riga hosted the FIDE Grand Prix, which was won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov after a suspenseful Armageddon game in the tie-break against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. “In the spirit of the 2019 event, I wish for this tournament to be a thriller until the end”. He wished players luck, but noted that it can only apply to “exactly half of the players, as you can’t all be lucky”.
The drawing of lots
Following the performance of two singers who sang Latvian folk songs wearing traditional attire, the drawing of lots took place. Arkady Dvorkovich drew white pieces for the open tournament’s top-seed and world number two, Fabiano Caruana. The top player in the women’s section, Mariya Muzychuk drew black pieces for herself.
The 2021 Grand Swiss
The first round of the Grand Swiss will start on the 27th of October at 2 PM local time.
The open event will have one of the longest time controls ever used in chess: each player will have 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, plus 15 minutes for the remaining moves, with 30 seconds added per move from the start of the game. The time control for the Women’s Grand Swiss will be slightly shorter: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.
Both tournaments are part of the qualifications for the 2021-23 World Championship cycle, with the top two players in the open event qualifying for the 2022 Candidates Tournament and the following six securing spots in the Grand Prix. The winner of the Women’s Grand Swiss will qualify directly for the Women Candidates and four best players will qualify for the next year’s Women’s Grand Prix.
The pairings for the first round of the Grand Swiss can be found here: http://chess-results.com/tnr587230.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1&flag=30
The pairings for the first round of the Women’s Grand Swiss can be found here: http://chess-results.com/tnr587231.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1&flag=30
Information about the event can be found here: https://grandswiss.fide.com/general-information/