Dubai: A stellar star cast that includes reigning world champion Ding Liren, top-ranked Magnus Carlsen, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand and four-time women’s world champion Hou Yifan are among the names confirmed for the Global Chess League to be held at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club from June 21 to July 2.
The GCL, a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and world governing body FIDE and held in association with the Dubai Sports Council, will feature four former world champions will add to the thrilling level of competition — 2021 World Rapid Chess Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov, 2008 Blitz Chess World Champion Leinier Domínguez, three-time Blitz Chess World Champion Alexander Grischuk, and 2018 World Rapid Chess Champion Daniil Dubov. All teams will compete in a joint team format, with each team consisting of six players with a minimum of two women chess players per team.
Grandmaster Liren, said: “Global Chess League appeared to be a fantastic opportunity from the moment I heard about it. Not only is it an interesting format, but also, as an Icon player, I get to contribute to an exciting concept that will change the face of the chess world for years to come.”
A five-time world champion, and the reigning four-time World Rapid Chess Champion, Carlsen’s peak FIDE rating has been the highest in chess history. “The Global Chess League will be a great new event in over-the-board chess that has never been done before. I am excited to be a part of this unique mixed-team format,” he said. “Chess is played by many people worldwide, but it needs to catch up to other major sports as a spectator sport, and I am optimistic that Global Chess League will contribute significantly to this. I look forward to enjoying the league’s team spirit.”
Global Chess League will also feature top female superstars, including Grandmaster Hou Yifan, the second highest-rated female player of all time. She was a chess prodigy who was the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of grandmaster at the age of 14.
Yifan will be accompanied by WGMs Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Tan Zhongyi, Nana Dzagnidze, Bella Khotenashvili, Nino Batsiashvili, Irina Krush, International Master Polina Shuvalova, and 2018 European Women’s Champion in rapid chess, Elisabeth Paehtz.
Yifan said: “Global Chess League has already sparked widespread interest. I am grateful to Tech Mahindra and FIDE for inviting me to participate in the league’s inaugural season, and I cannot wait for the season to begin. GCL, with its unique joint format of men and women players on the same team, is certain to take the game in new directions and open doors, which have never been explored before. Chess fans all over the world are in for a treat.”
In addition to the renowned champions, the league will provide a stage for emerging talent from diverse nations, offering them an opportunity to compete against the very best in the world. Six U21 players will also compete in the league, with the trio of Grandmasters, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, Raunak Sadhwani and Nihal Sarin, leading the pack of prodigies for India. GMs Jonas Buhl Bjerre, Javokhir Sindarov and chess prodigy GM Andrey Esipenko complete the list of players in the category.
The FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich, said: “The Tech Mahindra Global Chess League will feature chess icons, legends, and world champions from around the world, and we are excited to see the biggest names in chess compete for the top prize. This league promises a never-before-seen level of thrilling chess action, and the anticipation is palpable. We are confident the league will usher in a new era in the modern chess ecosystem.”
In addition, the Global Chess League will feature several other superstars of chess, including Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi, Gukesh D, Arjun Erigaisi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Yi Wei, Yu Yangyi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Richard Rapport, Kirill Shevchenko, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Salem Salah.
Inspiring new generation
Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson of the Global Chess League Board, said: “We are honoured to have some of the biggest names in chess for the inaugural edition. We are certain that the league will drive and inspire a new generation of players to be interested in the growing chess community.”
The league will also set the standards for technological innovations in the sport of chess as Tech Mahindra and FIDE will explore innovative ways to promote the game through interactive technology-enabled platforms by leveraging next-generation technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, among others.