Four American chess stars are set for big-prize finals in two online tournament series ending this fall.
On Saturday, reigning US chess champion Wesley So will join US GM speed specialist Hikaru Nakamura in the tenth and final event of the 2021 Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the series of online quick-match tournaments played between the world champion. Magnus Carlsen and his GM Super Friends during the pandemic offseason.
Begun in November 2020, the $ 1.5 million Meltwater Tour played through nine quasi-monthly events, systematically rotating around the world’s top GMs to play fast-paced games from their living rooms. Nakamura and So have both been regulars on the tour, offering top-level performances that have successively earned them, among other things, invitations to other touring events. Grandmaster So has been the overall winner of three tournaments, proving himself to be a thorn in the side of the world champion and beating the Norwegian in two finals per event. Together, the two Americans have won over $ 250,000 in prizes and racked up enough tour points to qualify for Saturday’s final, which claims the lion’s share of the tour’s $ 300,000 prize fund.
Carlsen will of course be present; the world champion also won three individual events and finished ahead of So as the best player on the circuit, although technically qualified for Saturday by winning one of three weighted “major” events on the circuit which awarded automatic seats in the final . As it turns out, the 10 finalists were ranked based on their overall performance on the tour and each received a corresponding handicap of bonus points to start the final. Carlsen has the biggest head start, entering Saturday with 16.5 bonus points; He is therefore second with 12.5 and Nakamura sixth with 4.
Different from the tournament format seen in the regular season, the Meltwater final will be a pure round robin among 10 players, with a new opponent every day and a quick four game, with two blitz overtime and one breakout. Armageddon tie if necessary. The games start daily at 11:00 am EST and the winner takes home $ 100,000.
Liang and Yoo edit the Challengers Tour
US juniors GM Awonder Liang and IM Christopher Yoo are also preparing for the finals, who have booked their tickets for the Julius Bar Challengers Tour final scheduled for October. Another online tournament circuit produced by the World Champion’s PlayMagnus Group, this one showcasing the next generation of world talent, the Challengers Circuit contested four events in the summer of 2021 and offered its junior players cash prizes, world-class training and multiple chances to participate. with the big dogs in the Champions Tour events.
Liang, from Wisconsin, got one of those chances by competing in the US Aimchess Rapid as the August Meltwater event, while Yoo, as a member of the winning Challengers team, won. a trip to Dubai to attend the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi World Championship in December.
The American duo finished first in the overall Challengers Tour standings, facing around 20 of the world’s best junior male and female players and finishing tied for second third in total points on the tour. Liang and Yoo were both part of the eight-man selection for the Oct. 11-14 final, a $ 40,000 knockout event with a $ 10,000 top prize and, perhaps more importantly, a regular place in the Champions Chess Tour for the 2022 season.