Saint Louis, MO, April 9, 2019 – The Cote d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz is the first leg of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour and is scheduled to be held in Abidjan from May 8 until May 12, 2019. The tournament has special significance as it will be the first GCT tournament to be held on the African continent. It will also mark the official return of World Champion Magnus Carlsen as a full tour participant. The participation of GM Carlsen also represents a significant milestone for the development of chess on the African continent as the event will be the first African tournament in history to include the reigning World Champion amongst its participants.
Following a robust selection process, the Grand Chess Tour is pleased to announce that the Pullman Abidjan Hotel has been selected as the official hotel and playing venue for the tournament. Located in the heart of the Plateau (Abidjan’s business district), the hotel is a newly renovated luxury 5-star location.
The tournament will feature seven full tour participants and three event level wildcards.
|#||Players||URS Rating||URS Rank||Notes|
|1||Carlsen, Magnus||2858||1||World Champion|
|2||Nakamura, Hikaru||2804||2||2018 GCT Champion|
|3||Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime||2792||3||2018 GCT Runner-up|
|4||Ding, Liren||2786||5||#1 ranked player in China|
|5||So, Wesley||2777||8||2017 GCT Champion|
|6||Nepomniachtchi, Ian||2777||9||#1 ranked player in Russia|
|7||Karjakin, Sergey||2772||11||2016 World Champion Challenger|
|8||Veselin Topalov (Wildcard)||2734||22||Former FIDE World Champion|
|9||Wei Yei (Wildcard)||2735||23||#1 ranked junior (U/20) in the world|
|10||Bassem Amin (Wildcard)||2686||60||#1 ranked player from Africa|
The event format consists of 9 rounds of rapid chess and 18 rounds of blitz chess with the final standings determined by the results of both formats. The rapid games will be played at a time control of game in twenty-five (25) minutes, with a ten (10) second delay from move 1. The time control for the blitz games is game in five (5) minutes, with a three (3) second delay from move 1. The start time for the daily games are as follows:
Rapid (May 8 – 10)
|Time (GMT)||May 8||May 9||May 10|
|15.00||Rapid - Round 1||Rapid - Round 4||Rapid - Round 7|
|16.30||Rapid - Round 2||Rapid - Round 5||Rapid - Round 8 |
|18.00||Rapid - Round 3||Rapid - Round 6||Rapid - Round 9|
Blitz (May 11 – 12)
|May 11||Time (GMT)||May 12||Time (GMT)|
|Blitz - Round 1||15.00||Blitz - Round 10||14.00|
|Blitz - Round 2||15.30||Blitz - Round 11||14.30|
|Blitz - Round 3||16.00||Blitz - Round 12||15.00|
|Blitz - Round 4||16.30||Blitz - Round 13||15.30|
|Blitz - Round 5||17.00||Blitz - Round 14||16.00|
|Blitz - Round 6||17.30||Blitz - Round 15||16.30|
|Blitz - Round 7||18.00||Blitz - Round 16||17.00|
|Blitz - Round 8||18.30||Blitz - Round 17||17.30|
|Blitz - Round 9||19.00||Blitz - Round 18||18.00|
|Blitz Day 1 End || 19.30||Playoffs / Prizegiving||18.30|
In keeping with the development goals of the Grand Chess Tour, several parallel events are also being planned by the Fédération Ivoirienne des Echecs (FIDEC). These events will maximise the contribution of the tournament to both the local chess community and the member states of the ECOWAS region. ECOWAS is an economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa and teams from the various member states will be invited to Abidjan to participate in an invitational team tournament that will run in parallel with the Grand Chess Tour event. This will provide an opportunity for players from across West Africa to meet with the top players in the world and to watch their games live.
The Cote d’Ivoire rapid & blitz tournament has ultimately been made possible through the ongoing financial support of the French mass media conglomerate Vivendi SA as well as the Canal+ Group. Both organisations have been key supporters of the Paris Grand Chess Tour tournament for the past two years and have significant operations spanning across the African continent. Thanks to their involvement, a two-part french language documentary is also scheduled to be produced and is expected to air later this year. The proposed documentary will feature both the rapid and blitz tournament in Abidjan as well as the GCT event in Paris in July. Further details on the event in Cote d’Ivoire can be obtained from the tournament pageon the Grand Chess Tour website.