The Isle of Man plays host once more to the chess world’s crème de la crème, as the 3rd FIDE Grand Swiss and 2nd FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss tournaments are set to launch on 25 October
The return of these prestigious world championship qualifying competitions to the Isle of Man marks a momentous occasion. Over the course of 12 days, from 25 October to 5 November, the island in the Irish Sea will emerge as the epicentre of the chess world, hosting an elite assembly of top-tier players fighting for the prizes, prestige and a spot in the 2024 Candidates.
Having debuted on the island in 2019, the tournaments are back in the familiar and distinguished setting of the Villa Marina, located along the island’s picturesque seafront in the capital city of Douglas. This venue hosted five editions of the Chess.com Isle of Man Masters tournaments between 2014 and 2018, as well as the 2005 British Chess Championship.
Both open and women’s tournaments consist of eleven rounds, with one rest day after the first six rounds (on Tuesday, 31 October) and the final round 11 being played on Sunday 5 November, followed on the same day by the closing ceremony. Once again, the event enjoys the generous patronage of the Scheinberg family, with a prize fund to the tune of US$600,000, part of a seven-figure sponsorship package. The first three prizes in the open tournament are $80,000, $60,000 and $40,000 and, in the women’s tournament, $25,000, $17,500 and $15,000, respectively, with further prizes for those finishing below the top three places.
Alan Ormsby (Isle of Man) is the tournament director, IA Alex Holowczak (England) is the chief arbiter of the Grand Swiss and IA Ana Srebrnič (Slovenia) will serve as the chief arbiter of the Women’s Grand Swiss.
The biggest prize
The primary function of both tournaments is as world championship qualifiers, with the two highest-placed players from each going forward to the two 2024 FIDE World Candidates’ tournaments.
As in previous editions this is made a little complicated by the inclusion in the field of players who are already qualified for next year’s eight-player Candidates’ event who still wish to take part in the Grand Swiss.
The Isle of Man line-up features a handful of players who have already qualified for the Candidates via the recent FIDE World Cup competitions: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (India), Fabiano Caruana (USA) who were the runner-up and third-place finisher, respectively, in the month-long Baku knock-out competition. If they were to figure in the top two places in the Grand Swiss, the next player down from them on the final score table would qualify for the Candidates. Similarly, in the women’s competition, there are three players competing in the Isle of Man who have already qualified for the 2024 FIDE Women’s Candidates’ tournament, namely Aleksandra Goryachkina (competing under the FIDE flag), Nurgyul Salimova (Bulgaria) and Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), so the same scenario applies if they also finish in the top two in the Women’s Grand Swiss.
A tournament for the world’s best
Only the world’s best can take part in the Grand Swiss, having had to compete within a rigorous set of requirements. This is all to ensure that the great majority of the competitors have a realistic chance of going further in the world championship cycle, plus a handful of continental and local nominees. The Grand Swiss features 21 players rated 2700+ and a further 73 rated 2600+. That leaves a further 15 to complete the field, of whom two are rated below 2400, being representatives of the host country.
Very few Swiss tournaments in chess history have approached this level of strength in depth, with notable exceptions being the two previous Grand Swiss competitions, plus the 2017 Chess.com Isle of Man Masters won by Magnus Carlsen.