Grand Chess Tour CIV Rapid & Blitz Edition – News and Updates

Herein is a press release by the organizers of the The Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz edition of the Grand Chess Tour.


The Côte d’Ivoire Rapid & Blitz event is the first leg of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour and it is scheduled to be held in Abidjan, from the 8th to the 12 of May, 2019. The tournament has special significance, as it will be the first GCT tournament to be held on the African continent. It will also mark the official return of World Champion Magnus Carlsen as a full tour participant. The participation of GM Carlsen also represents a significant milestone for the development of chess on the African continent, as the event will be the first African tournament in history to include the reigning World Champion amongst its participants.

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen awaiting his opponent

Following a robust selection process, the Grand Chess Tour is pleased to announce that the Pullman Hotel in Abidjan, has been selected as the official hotel and playing venue for the tournament. Located in the heart of the Plateau (Abidjan’s business district), the hotel is a newly renovated luxury 5-star location.

The Pullman Hotel, Abidjan

The tournament will feature seven full tour participants and three event level wildcards, as is seen below:

#PlayersURS RatingURS RankNotes
1Carlsen, Magnus28581World Champion
2Nakamura, Hikaru280422018 GCT Champion
3Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime279232018 GCT Runner-up
4Ding, Liren27865#1 ranked player in China
5So, Wesley277782017 GCT Champion
6Nepomniachtchi, Ian27779#1 ranked player in Russia
7Karjakin, Sergey2772112016 World Champion Challenger
8Veselin Topalov (Wildcard)273422Former FIDE World Champion
9Wei Yei (Wildcard)273523#1 ranked junior (U/20) in the world
10Bassem Amin (Wildcard)268660#1 ranked player from Africa

The event format consists of 9 rounds of rapid chess and 18 rounds of blitz chess with the final standings determined by the results of both formats. The rapid games will be played at a time control of twenty-five (25) minutes, with a ten (10) second delay from move 1. The time control for the blitz games is five (5) minutes, with a three (3) second delay from move 1. The start time for the daily games are as follows:

Rapid (May 8 – 10)

Time (GMT)May 8May 9May 10
15.00Rapid – Round 1Rapid – Round 4Rapid – Round 7
16.30Rapid – Round 2Rapid – Round 5Rapid – Round 8 
18.00Rapid – Round 3Rapid – Round 6Rapid – Round 9

Blitz (May 11 – 12)

May 11Time (GMT)May 12Time (GMT)
Blitz – Round 115.00Blitz – Round 1014.00
Blitz – Round 215.30Blitz – Round 1114.30
Blitz – Round 316.00Blitz – Round 1215.00
Blitz – Round 416.30Blitz – Round 1315.30
Blitz – Round 517.00Blitz – Round 1416.00
Blitz – Round 617.30Blitz – Round 1516.30
Blitz – Round 718.00Blitz – Round 1617.00
Blitz – Round 818.30Blitz – Round 1717.30
Blitz – Round 919.00Blitz – Round 1818.00
Blitz Day 1 End  19.30Playoffs / Prizegiving18.30

In keeping with the development goals of the Grand Chess Tour, several parallel events are also being planned by the Fédération Ivoirienne des Echecs (FIDEC). These events will maximise the contribution of the tournament to both the local chess community and the member states of the ECOWAS region. ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) is an economic union of fifteen countries, located in West Africa and teams from the various member states will be invited to Abidjan to participate in an invitational team tournament that will run in parallel with the Grand Chess Tour event. This will provide an opportunity for players from across West Africa to meet with the top players in the world and to watch their games live.

The Côte d’Ivoire rapid & blitz tournament has ultimately been made possible through the ongoing financial support of the French mass media conglomerate Vivendi SA, as well as the Canal+ Group. Both organisations have been key supporters of the Paris Grand Chess Tour tournament for the past two years and have significant operations spanning across the African continent.Thanks to their involvement, a two-part french language documentary is also scheduled to be produced and is expected to air later this year. The proposed documentary will feature both the rapid and blitz tournament in Abidjan as well as the GCT event in Paris in July. Further details on the event in Cote D’Ivoire can be obtained from the tournament page on the Grand Chess Tour website.

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