Skilling Open gets going

LET’S PLAY CHESS - Edgar De Castro (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2020 - 12:00am

A selection of the world’s elite  players will see action today as the Skilling Open, the first leg of the $1.5 million Online Champions Tour, gets underway.

Norwegian world No. 1  Magnus Carlsen,  who is seeking to win his second online  champions tour title,  battles Russian world  No. 4 Ian Nepomniachtchi in the opening day matchup of seeded players.

In other top board  matches, Chinese  world No. 3 Ding Liren will face off with world  No. 17 Sergey Kariakin of Russia, and Frenchman  world No. 5 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is pitted against Dutchman world No. 11 Anish Giri.

The rest of the pairings are Hikaru Nakamura  (USA) vs Jan-Krysztof Duda (POL), Le Quang Liem (VIE) vs Levon Aronian (ARM),  Vidit Gujrathi (IND) vs Alireza Firouzja (FIDE), Wesley So (USA) vs David Anton (ESP) and Peter Svidler (RUS) vs Teimour Radjabov (AZE).

Format in the 10-event online tour is a single round robin with the top eight finishers advancing  to the knockout phase, in which the total prize per leg is $100,000 with the champion pocketing $30,000. Time control is 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.

All games can be followed live with commentaries  at various websites, including Europe’s No. 1 sports  channel, Eurosport. More than 16 million fans  viewed the first edition of the tour which ended last August. The second edition is a real crowd-pleaser  and is expected to provide another  tremendous  online chess action for  fans around the world.

Meanwhile, American champion Wesley So  reached the semifinal at the 2020 Speed Chess Championship by beating Poland’s Jan Krysztof Duda, 16-10, and will next meet the winner of Nakamura vs Vladimir Fedoseev quarterfinal match.

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