The Global Chess League (GCL), a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and world governing body FIDE, will feature a star-studded line-up including six world champions in what promises to be an extraordinary tournament.
Among the chess giants who will bid to make history in the Dubai Sports Council-supported event at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club from June 21 to July 2 are reigning World Chess Champion Ding Liren, five-time World Champions Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, and four-time Women’s World champion Hou Yifan.
Grandmaster Liren, who will bid to enhance his reputation as the highest-ranked chess player in the world, said that the tournament had the potential to ‘change the face of the chess world.’
“Global Chess League appeared to be a fantastic opportunity from the moment I heard about it,” said the 30-year-old player.
“Not only is it an interesting format, but also, as an Icon player, I get to contribute to an exciting concept that will change the face of the chess world for years to come.
“Further, knowing that GCL will see participation from players worldwide, it will be a strong field, and I look forward to meeting all the players,” Liren added.
Carlsen, a five-time World Champion, and the reigning four-time World Rapid Chess Champion, commented. “The Global Chess League will be a great new event in over-the-board chess that has never been done before. I am excited to be a part of this unique mixed-team format,
“Chess is played by many people worldwide, but it needs to catch up to other major sports as a spectator sport, and I am optimistic that GCL will contribute significantly to this. I look forward to enjoying the league’s team spirit,” added the 32-year-old Norwegian chess grandmaster.
All teams will compete in a one-of-a-kind joint team format at GCL, with each team consisting of six players with a minimum of two women chess players per team. Besides Liren and Carlsen, four former world champions will add to the thrilling level of competition – 2021 World Rapid Chess Champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov, 2008 Blitz Chess World Champion Leinier Domínguez, three-time Blitz Chess World Champion Alexander Grischuk, and 2018 World Rapid Chess Champion Daniil Dubov.
Global Chess League will also feature top female superstars, including Grandmaster (GM) Hou Yifan, a four-time Women’s World Chess Champion and the second highest-rated female player of all time. She was a chess prodigy who was the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of grandmaster at the age of 14.
A four-time women’s world chess champion, Yifan said, “Global Chess League has already sparked widespread interest. I am grateful to Tech Mahindra and FIDE for inviting me to participate in the league’s inaugural season, and I cannot wait for the season to begin.
“GCL, with its unique joint format of men and women players on the same team, is certain to take the game in new directions and open doors, which have never been explored before. Chess fans all over the world are in for a treat.”
In addition to the renowned champions, the league will provide a stage for emerging talent from diverse nations, offering them an opportunity to compete against the very best in the world. Six U21 players will also compete in the GCL, with the trio of Grandmasters, Praggnanandhaa R., Raunak Sadhwani, and Nihal Sarin, leading the pack of prodigies for India. GMs Jonas Buhl Bjerre, Javokhir Sindarov and chess prodigy GM Andrey Esipenko complete the list of players in the category.
FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich, said, “We are excited to see the biggest names in chess compete for the top prize. This league promises a never-before-seen level of thrilling chess action, and the anticipation is palpable. We are confident the league will usher in a new era in the modern chess ecosystem.”
In addition to the players mentioned above, the Global Chess League will feature several other superstars of chess, including Grandmasters Vidit Gujrathi, Gukesh D, Arjun Erigaisi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Yi Wei, Yu Yangyi, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Richard Rapport, Kirill Shevchenko, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Salem Salah.
Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson of the Global Chess League Board, said, “We are honoured to have some of the biggest names in chess for the inaugural edition.
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“Apart from being great players, all of them have been ambassadors for the game in their respective countries and worldwide. With them on board, GCL only adds another feather to its cap in becoming a true game changer for the chess ecosystem by introducing a mixed-team format in chess in which men, women, and u-21 players will play on the same team.
|This is a true testament to our belief in providing equal opportunities to all, regardless of gender. We are certain that the league will drive and inspire a new generation of players to be interested in the growing chess community,” Mitra added.
The league will also set the standards for technological innovations in the sport of chess as Tech Mahindra and FIDE will explore innovative ways to promote the game through interactive technology-enabled platforms by leveraging next-generation technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, among others.