Reports | March 10, 2009 17:37

Cream of world chess to play in new London tournament

LondonFor the first time in 25 years, London will have a chess tournament with the world's best players. From December 10 to 17, 2009 a single round-robin with eight players (five world-class grandmasters and three English players) will be held in the capital of the United Kingdom. The tournament boasts a minimum prize fund of € 100,000 and has applied for membership of the Grand Slam. Initiatior Malcolm Pein: "We're going to focus on the public and the media."


London Chess Centre is proud to announce the hosting of a world-class chess tournament to be held in London in December, 2009. The event will be an elite eight-player all-play-all in the most prestigious tournament in the capital since former world champion Anatoly Karpov won the Phillips and Drew Masters in 1984.

Since then, despite London hosting three world title contests, there has not been a tournament in which England’s leading players could lock horns with the world’s best on home soil. The December 09 tournament will be the first in a series of events designed to reinvigorate UK chess and promote the game and its undoubted educational benefits in schools and communities.

The tournament will be FIDE Category 19 with an average FIDE rating of 2700 and a minimum prize fund of €100,000. The eight players will comprise of three English and five world-class Grandmasters from abroad. Included in the prize fund will be a €10,000 Brilliant Game award along with prizes for each victory with the White and Black pieces. Matches will be covered live
online where fans will be able to vote for Game of the Day.

The tournament has applied for membership of the prestigious annual Grand Slam which culminates in Bilbao and boasts a €400,000 prize fund.

The games will be under classical chess time control; 40 moves in two hours, 20 in the subsequent hour then an additional 15 minutes plus an increment of 30 seconds a move until the end of the game. The tournament will further benefit from the use of Sofia Rules which disallow early draws. Players will receive three points for a win and one for a draw.

The opening ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 10 and will include a blindfold chess display and charity simultaneous. Play will take place daily from Friday, December 11 to Thursday, December 17 inclusive.

The list of players and venue will be announced in April.

IM Malcolm Pein
Director London Chess Centre

This morning ChessVibes spoke with Malcolm Pein on the phone.

Firstly, why a single round-robin?
"For promotional and business reasons a one week event is better. It's hard to keep media focused on an event for much longer than a week in my opinion."

It's a big difference with other Grand Slam tournaments, especially Corus, which has 13 rounds. Wouldn't it be much easier to qualify for Bilbao in your tournament?
"We're going for a 2700 average, so I don't think it will be easy to win it. One could say that the physical effort is less, but it certainly won't be easy. And I'm sure the Grand Slam people would love to have a big city included in their Series. It might be a relatively small affair, but it is in the right place."

Can you say something about the sponsors?
"At the moment all I can say is that there's a private individual who wants to bring chess back into the UK. The commercial options are still open but the money is there."

I understand that you cannot speak about players yet, but is it your ambition to have both Adams and Short, or will you prefer to give young talents a chance?
"We're trying for both."

Your tournament is already special because there will be a brilliant game prize and extra prizes for wins – is this your way of avoiding short draws? Is the Sofia rule not enough?
"Yes, that's correct. People can still make a draw if they want to. In my opinion, every game has to matter. By the way, I can add that there will be a bonus for a win with Black."

You're also going for the "football system" with three points for a win, and one for a draw, as was applied at the first Bilbao Grand Slam Final. However, it has become clear that it makes very little difference to the standings of such a tournament. Why did you decide on this?
"It's more interesting for the public – we're going to focus on the public, PR and the media."

What kind of venue are you having in mind? A glass cube?
"We would certainly like to because it's a fantastic innovation of Silvio [Danailov - CV]. Actually all of his innovations have been great. But we're not sure if it's possible; it depends on the venue.

And what about the future? Will it be an annual event?
"If it is a success then yes, but the plan is to lead to more widespread series of events at both local and international level. We might even bid for the WCC final - not Anand-Topalov but perhaps for 2012."

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.


Tom Vananderoye's picture

well great news ofcourse but one wonders how many super-tournaments one can have in a year.

xtra's picture

This wont occupy that many players though....its not a "bomb" like Corus, making 70-80% of the elite unavailible for 3 weeks. This is just 5-6 players.

But if they want to promote interest in chess, and it sounds like they do, they should combine this tournament with playing opportunities for amateurs. Some simuls, maybe an open tournament...quizes...etc.

Patzer's picture


Stephen's picture

I am very excited about this. It is about time that London put itself back on the international chess map. It would be nice, as others have suggested, to have some other events organised around it so that us mortals can feel we are participating in some way. Let's also hope that the current economic situation doesn't deflect the very welcome endeavours of Malcolm Pein in getting the tournament off the ground.

Interesting's picture

I also wonder if there will be a parallel swiss open or round robins for general public, because if there will be I might come to London myself. Otherwise I'll observe the event through the Internet.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I wonder who will play? Adams and Short surely?

Eulers's picture

it was about time the English rain make felt on the chessboard. A good innovation: chess players playing chess under the charming English rain, and the spectators surrounding the tables in a cover of crystal. Mr. Pein could even ask Miss Kate Winslet to make the first move.

Thomas's picture

Didn't Short say several times that he is not even (no longer) interested to play a supertournament as Corus A? I had posted this at Dailydirt before, was much criticized [by fans of Nigel Short?] but there are several quotes available. And there wer even speculations (or maybe rather jokes) that he lost his last-round game against Caruana in Corus B 'on purpose' to avoid qualification for next year's A group .... .

Maybe things are different if such an event hapens in his home country, and he would/will feel more motivated and/or obliged to accept an invitation.

@Peter: maybe a question to ask to Malcolm Pein or Mark Crowther (or Nigel Short) at the next occasion?

Tom's picture

@Thomas, Nigel Short wrote this on his chessgames page: "While I have not formally received the invitation yet, I will , barring death or act of God, participate in the tournament."

Thomas's picture

Thanks Tom. This leaves three possibilities:
1) Nigel Short was constantly joking about not wanting to play in Corus A [this is possible, I can appreciate but not always understand British humor ,:)]
2) He changed his mind in the meantime
3) As I suggested, it makes a difference to him if such a supertournament happens in his home country (understandable, and disconnected from the question if there is something as a home advantage in chess).

Tom's picture

Who knows. You could definitely try asking him at chessgames btw; he often answers questions there (but be warned; he often ignores them too!)

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