April 21, 2024

FIDE Grand Swiss and FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss 2023 kick off in the Isle of Man

Every great competition deserves a great opening ceremony. For chess players, a great opening ceremony is one that is efficient. This criterion was fully satisfied at the Villa Marina, the venue of tonight’s opening ceremony and the games tomorrow.

The Master of Ceremonies, Alex Brindley, opened the proceedings by introducing Alan Ormsby, the Chief Organiser of the Grand Swiss.

Mr Ormsby welcomed the players and everybody who made the event possible. A notable fact was mentioned when he thanked the Isle of Man Immigration Service, which issued 120 visas to make it possible for players and everybody else who needed it to come to the island. Mr Ormsby spoke about the Isle of Man open tournament, which ran from 2014 to 2018 and the first Grand Swiss in 2019. He said that the Isle of Man is now an affiliate member of FIDE and, as such, has a right to field a team at the upcoming chess Olympiad in Budapest in 2024, a goal achieved after 30 years of hard work. He wished the best of luck to the two local players, Li Wu and Dietmar Kolbus, ranked 113 and 114 out of 114 participants, who will represent the Isle of Man. He concluded with special gratitude to the Scheinberg family for their continuous support and generous help in all the years of the event.

Next to speak was Alfred Cannan, Chief Minister of the Isle of Man.

In his brief speech, Mr. Cannan welcomed the participants and spoke of chess’s importance in these turbulent modern times. He condemned the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas and expressed his desire that chess can serve as an agent of peace. He also emphasised the generous support of the Scheinberg family, a support that, apart from the previous events, also made this event possible.

He also thanked the Scheinberg family for making this event possible and for the generous support of other chess competitions.

FIDE’s CEO Emil Sutovsky started by saying that his last professional tournament was at the Isle of Man in 2018. He was happy to see the players he met back then again, but also new faces and promising youngsters. He noted the event’s growth and thanked the Scheinberg family for their incessant support and for making it all possible. „We work for you,“ he concluded.

Finally, the Chief Arbiter Alex Holowczak took the stage and invited the top seeds, Fabiano Caruana and Aleksandra Goryachkina, to choose one from the two bags that contained a king inside. Coincidentally, they picked the bag containing the black king, thus starting their round one games with the black pieces. It also meant that all odd numbers would play with black in round one, with the even numbers having the white pieces.

The games start tomorrow at 14-30 PM local time.

Written by GM Alex Colovic

Photos: Anna Shtourman


About the event:

The FIDE Grand Swiss and FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss 2023 takes place from the 23rd of October to the 6th of November at the Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Both tournaments are part of the qualifications for the World Championship cycle, with the top two players in the open event qualifying for the 2024 Candidates Tournament and the top two players in the Women’s Grand Swiss qualifying for the 2024 Women’s Candidates.

Eleven rounds will be played under the Swiss System, with 164 players participating from all continents: 114 in the Grand Swiss and 50 players in the Women’s Grand Swiss.

The total prize fund is $600,000, with $460,000 for the Grand Swiss and $140,000 for the Women’s Grand Swiss.

The first Grand Swiss was held in 2019 in the Isle of Man and was won by GM Wang Hao, who scored 8/11. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 edition of the event was cancelled. The 2021 edition took place in Riga and was won by GM Alireza Firouzja.

This is the second time that a Women’s Grand Swiss event will be held. The inaugural edition in Riga was won by GM Lei Tingjie.