Reports | September 18, 2012 13:52

FIDE Grand Prix 2012-2013 to start in three days (UPDATE)

A rendering of what the playing hall will look like

After an opening reception on Thursday night, next Friday the first of six Grand Prix tournaments will take off in London's historic Simpson's-in-the-Strand. The FIDE Grand Prix series 2012-2013 will be played over six different cities and both the winner and the runner-up of the overall series will qualify for the Candidates Tournament to be held in March 2014.

A rendering of what the playing hall in London will look like | Images courtesy of Agon 

Not to be confused with the Grand Slam Masters Final (mentioned last Thursday), the FIDE Grand Prix Series consists of six big tournaments which will be played over different cities between September 2012 and October 2013: London, Tashkent, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. Eighteen players compete, with each player playing in four of these six tournaments. Their three best results will be counted for the final ranking. Each tournament will have 12 players playing over a schedule of fourteen days.

The winner and second placed player overall of the Grand Prix Series will qualify for the Candidates Tournament to be held in March 2014. (Not to be confused with the March 2013 Candidates Tournament which will also take place in London. The winner of this 8-player double round-robin will play the reigning World Champion, Viswanathan Anand, in the World Championship Match currently scheduled for November 2013.)

FIDE Grand Prix 2012-2013: players, cities, dates

FIDE GP       2012   2013      
Name CTY Qualify Rating London Tashkent Lisbon Madrid Berlin Paris
    criteria July 12 20 Sep - 3 Oct 21 Nov - 5 Dec 17 Apr- 1 May 22 May - 4 Jun 3 - 17 Jul 18 Sep - 2 Oct
Radjabov AZE Rating 2788     2788 2788 2788 2788
Karjakin RUS Rating 2779   2779 2779   2779 2779
Nakamura USA Rating 2778 2778   2778 2778   2778
Caruana ITA W. card 2773   2773 2773 2773   2773
Morozevich RUS AGON 2770   2770 2770 2770 2770  
Ivanchuk UKR W. Cup 2769 2769     2769 2769 2769
Grischuk RUS W. Cup 2763 2763     2763 2763 2763
Topalov BUL Rating 2752 2752   2752 2752 2752  
Svidler RUS W. Cup 2749 2749 * 2749   2749   2749
Wang Hao CHN AGON 2739 2739 2739 2739     2739
Gelfand ISR Match 2738 2738 2738     2738 2738
Gashimov AZE Rating 2737   2737 2737 2737 2737  
Leko HUN AGON 2730 2730 2730 2730   2730  
Ponomariov UKR W. Cup 2726   2726 2726 2726   2726
Mamedyarov AZE Rating 2726 2726 2726 2726   2726  
Dominguez CUB AGON 2725 2725 2725   2725   2725
Giri NLD AGON 2696 2696   2696   2696 2696
Kasimdzhanov UZB AGON 2690 2690 2690   2690 2690  
    Average 2747.1 2738.4 2740.6 2751.7 2751.8 2746.9 2753.3
    Players   12 12 12 12 12 12

Unfortunately World Champion Vishy Anand and the world's top 3 on rating Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik all decided not to participate. (Earlier we posted a statement by Carlsen's manager here.) However, with just about all the other top players present this Grand Prix series is definitely going to be exciting!


From the regulations (in PDF here) we learn that the time control is not the standard FIDE (90 minutes & increment) but the more classical 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then each player will be allotted 15 minutes after the second time control and an increment of 30 seconds per move will be allowed from move 61 onwards. There's also the Corsica/Sofia rule: players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents. Players will continue to play if the arbiter does not authorise the draw. A draw claim will be permitted only through the arbiter in case of a triple-repetition, a theoretical draw or the 50-move rule.


The total Grand Prix prize fund for the six tournaments in aggregate is 1.44 million Euro. The prize fund will be split equally between each tournament: 240,000 Euros (170,000 Euros for the tournament and 70,000 Euros towards an accumulated prize fund for the overall series positions, see below).

The prize money for each tournament will be split as follows:

Placing Prize (€) GP points
1 25,000 120+50
2 22,500 110+30
3 20,000 100+10
4 17,500 90
5 15,000 80
6 13,000 70
7 12,000 60
8 11,000 50
9 10,000 40
10 9,000 30
11 8,000 20
12 7,000 10
  170,000 € -

The overall winner of the Grand Prix will be the one who scores the most number of cumulative points. The cumulative score will be calculated by totalling the Grand Prix ranking points scored by each player in each tournament. Nine prizes will be awarded from the minimum accumulated prize fund of €420,000 as follows:

Placing Prize (Euros)
1 100,000
2 80,000
3 60,000
4 50,000
5 40,000
6 30,000
7 25,000
8 20,000
9 15,000

First GP: London

The first tournament will start next Friday. The participants are Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Peter Svidler (Russia), Wang Hao (China), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Peter Leko (Hungary), Shakriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Leinier Dominguez Perez (Cuba), Anish Giri (Netherlands) and Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan).


The organisers have had to effect a last minute replacement as GM Peter Svidler has had to withdraw from this leg due to family reasons. He has been replaced by UK number one player GM Michael Adams.

The playing dates are September 21st - October 3rd with rest days on September 26th and 30th. Venue is the historic Simpson's-in-the-Strand, one of London's oldest traditional English restaurants and also the place where the "Immortal game" between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky was played. The event was originally scheduled to be played in Chelyabinsk but after  unresolved issues between FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation led to the decision to transfer the event to London.

Event Grand Prix
Dates September 20-October 4, 2012
Location London, UK
System 12-player round robin
Players Hikaru Nakamura, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Wang Hao, Boris Gelfand, Peter Leko, Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov
Rate of play

120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then
each player will be allotted 15 minutes after the second time control and an increment of 30 seconds per move will be allowed from move 61 onwards

Extra Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents; players will continue to play if the arbiter does not authorise the draw

Playing conditions

The long-term commercial rights for the World Chess Championship Cycle were accorded to Agon, founded by the media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson, by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in February 2012. At the recent FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul this contract was ratified.

As we reported earlier, Paulson has big plans for chess. He is not looking for short-term profits; the contract with FIDE runs for eleven years. Agon is negotiating with commercial brand partners to sponsor the tournaments. The goals are to increase the prize fund to 5.5 million euros and to significantly expand the media coverage of the sport, with interactive broadcast on smartphones, tablets and online supplementing the highlights coverage on global television networks.

Agon hired PR agency Mission PR and the design firm Pentagram to create a new look for the tournaments in the World Championship cycle. Below is a rendering of what the playing hall will look like, which we received from Mission PR:

As you can see in the image, there will be wooden separations between the tables to create a more individual setting for each game. Besides, Pentagram has created a chessboard-themed logo and a tagline (“The Best Mind Wins”) that will appear in and around the games and on potential merchandise.

It must be noted that for London 2012 and Tashkent 2012 these changes will be limited. Only starting from the London Candidates event in March 2013, Agon is planning to come with something really different. (For instance, Pentagram has also designed a playing arena that resembles a boxing ring, allowing fans to watch play from all sides.)

On a final note concerning this first GP event in London: contrary to what was previously implied in a press release, strictly speaking the tournament won't be invite-only, but open to spectators. However, as we were told, space in the playing hall is very limited and so there are only about thirty seats available.

However, most chess fans will be following the tournament online anyway. An official website hasn't been announced yet, but following FIDE's logic of the URLs they've used for previous GP events, we typed, hit enter and... there you go.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


redivivo's picture

Gelfand will once again crush all opposition!

Tim Rosebrock's picture

There is a contradiction: In the table "FIDE Grand Prix 2012-2013: players, cities, dates", Karjakin and Ponomariov are announced to play in London, but afterwards, they are replaced by Ivanchuk and Svidler.

Peter Doggers's picture

Oops, for some reason I didn't use the latest table given here. Thanks, corrected now.

joker's picture

This is even better than Kirsan's antics - fake pictures and no audience. To those turned away at the door, consider going to the Saatchi Gallery instead, for equal amounts surrealism:

RuralRob's picture

When the phrase "not to be confused" appears at least twice in an article, you know you're dealing with a mess.

Thomas's picture

For once, FIDE can hardly be blamed for such confusion: It arises
1) because there is a private event (Grand Slam) with a similar name as the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix actually improved (same concept, more attractive or geographically diverse venues) while the Grand Slam "final" is a shadow of its initial concept, three out of four "qualifying" events being history.
2) because this WCh cycle overlaps with the previous one, but is this a problem?
[3) because there will be a total of three major chess events in London in the near future, the third (or second) one is the London Chess Classics]

MamedyarovFan's picture

Excellent article which with Thomas's comments navigate us through the minefield of names, regulations and events! Good luck to all participants especially you-know-who :-)

Thomas's picture

Probably off-topic, but as you say "minefield of names ... and events" - Whychess has the lineup of the Karpov tournament in Poikovsky (27 September - 8 October): Ponomariov, Wojtaszek, Short, Bologan, Onischuk, Rublevsky, Jakovenko, Motylev, Bruzon, Wang Yue.

For a few days and thanks to time differences, European dieheart chess fans can watch live chess in the morning (Sao Paulo), afternoon (London) and evening (Siberia). And Poikovsky may not get quite the attention it otherwise deserves [last year it was a very drawish event, but this wasn't always the case].

Aditya's picture

The playing hall looks quite classy. Nice arrangement if this is going to continue through the Grand Prix.

RealityCheck's picture

I can't believe my eyes! They're going to use the preferred classical time limit and score card. The men at Agon and FIDE are listening. Respect!

Now, if they can just squeeze two to four more games into the Wch Match, we'd be in Utopia.

We've come a long way since 2000. Reunification. Job well done.

Morley's picture

I really like the combination of classical time controls and no draw offers. Looking forward to some quality, tough games. I feel Nakamura will win.

Anonymous's picture

I am surprised by the prediction results - can never predict how Ivanchuk will do from one tournament to the next.

My money's on Svidler. I like how he hangs in the back of the back waiting for his moment. It's always refreshing when he does well in tournaments against higher-rated opposition.

I think Nakamura is far too busy on his internet blitz games and all-night poker sessions to care much about this tournament. He should finish somewhere in the middle with a lot of draws, like he always does.

B L's picture

Naka - He's quit poker (heard he took a smashing on some futures he was trading) and has barely logged on to or icc... Also, he's an arrogant mongoloid.

Wang Hao is who I've got my money on - really creative player.

Anonymous's picture

Chucky has been unsteady lately but then his main competition for first place would be naka (or so it seems by the above votes and by rating). Having said that Chucky wins as he seems to have no trouble vs Naka head to head

James Maskell's picture

I have been a couple of times to Simpsons in the Strand for what was the old Staunton Memorial tournaments so the point about lack of room for spectators is well understood, though it's still disappointing. I hope a venue can be found for the Candidates with more room for spectators.

Excalibur's picture

Obviously the poll is a popularity contest and cannot be taken to seriously. I just don't see Nakamura winning this one and I see him losing rating points here. For some reason, my money is on Grischuk. Also, watch out for Ivanchuk, Wang Hao and even Topalov who is a dark horse with incredible chess intuition but dwindling strength. Mamedyarov never does it against the big boys. Leko would always have too many draws. I'm not sure which form Svidler is in but this is tournament format not the World Cup. Kasimdzhanov, Gelfand and Dominguez are also-rans and are weaker than the rest. Giri if he is really prepared could be in the top 3 easily. I must say the setting looks so incredibly posh. Better than Bilbao's glass cube even.

Michael's picture

In the players' list, does AGON stand for AGONY? -:) Now seriously, what does it stand for?

valg321's picture

if it's not an acronym, then "agon" could be the greek word for "fight" as in a great effort or endeavor

RealityCheck's picture

@Michael Read this interview.

It will answer a lot of your other questions as well.

Michael's picture

Oh and what's going on with Aronian and Carlsen? Thy still don't trust fide or what?

redivivo's picture

They know they just have no chance when the great Gelfand is participating.

cashparov's picture

we're 2 days away from the first game, and instead of REAL pictures of the playing venue all we get is computer-rendered images? will the real players actually show up or will they be rendered too? lol.

redivivo's picture

Svidler has withdrawn from the event and will be replaced by Adams.

valg321's picture
gekagelaleka's picture

waiting for Wang hao vs Ivanchuck

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