Checkmate: Hybrid chess tournament lands at Ferry Building

Checkmate, San Francisco. An online and in-person hybrid chess event is coming to The City.  

The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the world’s first year-long online chess series designed to determine the world’s best chess player over a full season of competitive online play, is being played in San Francisco from Nov. 14 to 20. 

Eight players will take part in the seven-day all-play-all round robin tournament. Four players will compete from the Ferry Building’s Shack15, while four will play remotely.

Newly-crowned Tour 2022 champion Magnus Carlsen leads the in-person lineup and will be vying for his fifth victory of the 2022 season at the tour’s third and final major.

Carlsen most notably participated as a wild card in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup as part of the Grand Chess Tour. In the third game of the tournament, Carlsen was defeated by San Francisco’s Hans Niemann, ending his 53-game unbeaten streak in classical chess. 

Carlsen announced his withdrawal in a tweet with a video of Portuguese football manager José Morinho. This marked the first time in Carlsen’s career that he withdrew from a major event in progress, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in top-level chess. 

Two weeks later, Carlsen and Niemann faced off in the Julius Baer Generation Cup, a section of the Champions Chess Tour. Carlsen resigned after one move and broke his silence days later, accusing Niemann of cheating. Niemann filed a lawsuit Oct. 20 against Carlsen and four other defendants, alleging five counts of action including libel and slander. 

Throughout the controversy, Carlsen has stated that he would not play alongside Niemann in the future. 

Wesley So, a three-time U.S. champion will be making his first appearance this year. Indian teen sensation Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Dutch No. 1 Anish Giri will complete the in-person lineup. Both competitors are looking to score their first tournament win.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who sits second in the overall tour leaderboard, will be heading the pack for those playing online. Duda is joined by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Arjun Erigaisi. Vietnamese US-based speed specialist Liem Quang Le, who is fourth in the overall tour leaderboard, completes the lineup.

Since launch, the tour has broken viewership records for online and live tournaments. According to San Francisco-based Meltwater, the tour sponsor and an online media monitoring company, the tour generated 22 billion in media reach in 2021 and 58 billion so far in 2022.

Watch the broadcast live on or chess24’s Youtube and Twitch channels beginning Nov. 14. 

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