The 2018 GCT Field

GM Vladimir Kramnik



Fᴏʀᴍᴇʀ Wᴏʀʟᴅ Cʜᴀᴍᴘɪᴏɴ


Paris GCT Wildcard


The Russian Grandmaster was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006, and the undisputed World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007. He has won three team gold medals and three individual medals at Chess Olympiads.


GM Hikaru Nakamura



2018 Grand Chess Tour winner



Nakamura is a five-time United States Chess Champion who also won the 2011 edition of the Tata Steel Group A. He has represented the United States at six Chess Olympiads, winning two team bronze medals and the first team gold in 40 years at the 2016 Olympiad. In May 2014, when FIDE began publishing its official rapid and blitz chess ratings, Nakamura was ranked number one in the world on both lists. In 2015, the American GM won the Gibraltar Chess Masters tournament, captured his fourth U.S. Championship, place first at the Millionaire Chess Open, and propelled his classical FIDE rating to a career high of 2814. 2016 also proved to be a fruitful year for Naka as he repeated first place finishes at the Gibraltar Chess Festival and the Zurich Chess Challenge. In 2017, Hikaru won his third consecutive Gibraltar Chess Festival. He is the 2018 Grand Chess Tour winner.


GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave



2017 Sinquefield Cup winner



Often referred to as MVL, he came to prominence in 2009 after winning the title of World Junior Chess Champion. He is currently the No. 1 ranked player in France as well as a three-time French champion (2007, 2011, shared in 2012). He is also a four-time winner of the Biel Grandmaster Tournament (2009, 2013, 2014, 2015) and a former World Junior Champion (2009). His biggest tournament victory to date has been the 2017 Sinquefield Cup, where he finished first ahead of Magnus Carlsen. He won Sharjah Grand Prix in the same year and the 2018 Shenzhen Masters. MVL has been part of the Grand Chess Tour since 2015 and finished second in the 2018 edition after losing in the finals to Hikaru Nakamura. 


GM Levon Aronian



2017 World Cup Winner



Aronian has been the leading Armenian chess player since the early 2000’s. He has also led the Armenian national team to three gold medals in Chess Olympiads (Turin 2006, Dresden 2008, Istanbul 2012) as well as to gold at the World Team Chess Championship in 2011. His peak rating of 2830 is the fourth highest in history and put him in the number two spot in the world behind Magnus Carlsen. He won the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010. He was also World Rapid Chess Champion in 2009 and World Blitz Chess Champion in 2010. Aronian was the winner of the Chess World Cup in 2005 and then again in 2017, the only player to have won it twice. He is the 2015 Sinquefield Cup winner and tied for first with Carlsen and Caruana in 2018. He is also the winner of the inaugural Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. Aronian is one of the most well liked chess players in the world and is considered a hero and a celebrity in his home country. A 2006 CNN article referred to him as the David Beckham of chess.

 

GM Alexander Grischuk



Three time World Blitz Champion


Wildcard Paris Rapid & Blitz


GM Alexander Grischuk is widely recognised as one of the best blitz chess players in the world having been crowned World Blitz Champion in 2006, 2012 and 2015. He has also competed in four Candidates Tournaments and was a semi-finalist in the FIDE World Championship in 2000. Grischuk is a former Russian Champion and has won the Linares super tournament.In November 2014, Grishchuk crossed the elite 2800 ELO rating mark when he took clear first place with 5/7 points in the Tashir Chess Tournament in Memory of Tigran Petrosian. He is a veteran of 9 chess Olympiads and has won two team gold, three team silver and a team bronze medal while representing Russia. He narrowly missed out on selection as a full GCT tour participant in 2019 and will be a significant threat as a wildcard at the Paris Rapid & Blitz.


GM Wesley So



2016 Grand Chess Tour Cʜᴀᴍᴘɪᴏɴ



So is a former chess prodigy who became the youngest player to pass the 2600 threshold in October 2008, breaking the record previously held by Magnus Carlsen. In February 2015 he entered the world top-10 after tying for second place at the 2015 Tata Steel Chess Tournament. The following year he returned and tied for second place, just a half-point behind Magnus. 2016 saw the American GM earn first place in the Grand Chess Tour by winning the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic. He represented the US in the 2016 Olympiad, winning team gold and individual gold on board three. In 2017, Wesley won the Tata Steel Masters tournament and became the eleventh player in history to surpass 2800 FIDE. He was crowned the 2017 US Champion after defeating Alexander Onischuk in the playoffs.


GM Sergey Karjakin



2016 World Championship Challenger



Sergey Karjakin was born in Simferopol on the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. He represented Ukraine until 2009, when he changed federations and now represents Russia. Karjakin was a childhood chess prodigy; he still holds the honor of being the youngest player to earn the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years and 7 months. Sergey showed in all eight of the Chess Olympiads in which he competed, earning three gold, two silver and two bronze medals. In 2016, Karjakin won the Candidates Tournament and with it, the honor to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen for the title. After a hotly contested November match in New York, Karjakin had a tied score against the world champion, but lost the match on playoffs. His defensive skills during the match earned him the playful title of Russia’s “Minister of Defense”. He is a former World Blitz and World Rapid Champion. He has won team gold with team Russia during the 2013 and 2019 World Team Championship.


GM Magnus Carlsen



World Champion (2013 – Current)



Carlsen is a Norwegian chess grandmaster, and the current World Chess Champion. Carlsen was a child chess prodigy who became a chess grandmaster in 2004, at the age of 13 years and 148 days, making him the third-youngest grandmaster in history. In November 2013,  Carlsen became World Champion by defeating Viswanathan Anand. On the May 2014 FIDE rating list, Carlsen reached his peak rating of 2882, which is the highest in history. After defeating Caruana in their 2018 World Championship Match, Carlsen ended the year by winning the World Blitz Championship, his 10th World Championship title in total. He’s been having a phenomenal showing in 2019, winning Tata Steel and Shamkir Chess with a round to spare ahead of his closest rivals


GM Leinier Dominguez



2008 World Blitz Champion


Wildcard Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz


Leinier Dominguez is a 5 time Cuban Chess Champion who completed his transfer to the United States Chess Federation in December 2018. He is currently the 4th highest rated player in the US and placed joint-second behind Hikaru Nakamura in his first US Chess Championship in May 2019. Leinier is a former World Blitz Champion having won the title in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2008. In June 2013 he won the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, Greece while in 2016 he earned an individual silver medal playing on board 1 for Cuba in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku. His 2019 accomplishments include winning second in the 2019 U.S. Chess Championship and becoming the co-winner of the Netanya Masters in Israel. 


GM Viswanathan Anand



World Champion (2007 – 2013)



The former World Chess Champion became India's first grandmaster in 1988. He held the FIDE World Chess Championship title from 2000 to 2002 and became the undisputed World Chess Champion in 2007. He defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, Veselin Topalov in 2010 and Boris Gelfand in 2012 before finally losing the title to Magnus Carlsen in their World Chess Championship match in 2013. He won the Candidates Tournament the following year thus earning the right the challenge Carlsen. He is also a two-time World Rapid Champion. In 2006, he became the fourth player in history to cross 2800. He has been ranked No. 1 in the world for 21 months. Anand is considered a hero in India and Anand was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India's highest sporting honour. In 2007, he became the first sportsman to receive the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award.


GM Anish Giri



4 Time Dutch Chess Champion



The Russian-born Dutch Grandmaster achieved the grandmaster title at the age of 14 years and 7 months, which made him the youngest grandmaster in the world at the time. Giri is a four-time Dutch Chess Champion (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015). He won the Corus Chess B Group in 2010, thus qualifying to Tata Steel in 2011, where he defeated Magnus Carlsen in 22 moves. Giri has also represented the Netherlands at five Chess Olympiads, winning three individual bronze medals (2010, 2014, 2018). He was one of the members of Anand’s team during the World Championship Match against Topalov, which Anand won. In 2018 he tied for first with Magnus Carlsen in Tata Steel and finished second behind the World Champion in 2019 in the same tournament.


GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov



2013 World Rapid Chess Champion



Mamedyarov is the No.1 player in Azerbaijan and was the third highest rated player in the world in September 2018. He is a two-time World Junior Champion (2003 and 2005) and a three-time European Team Champion (2009, 2013, 2017) with Azerbaijan. Mamedyarov was World Rapid Chess Champion in 2013, scoring 11.5/15. He represented his country at the 2012 Chess Olympiad and received a gold medal on the third board. GM Mamedyarov is also a two-time winner of the Tal Memorial (2010 and 2014) and Shamkir Chess (2016 and 2017) tournaments. In 2018, he won the Biel Chess Festival after defeating Magnus Carlsen and tied for second place in the Candidates Tournament. His peak rating of 2820 is the sixth highest in chess history.


GM Fabiano Caruana



2018 World Championship Challenger



The No. 2 ranked player in the world, Caruana became a grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 11 months, 20 days. He was the youngest grandmaster in the history of the United States until his record was beaten in 2009 by Ray Robson. After winning the 2014 Sinquefield Cup with a score of 8.5/10 and a performance of over 3000, he achieved a FIDE rating of 2844, becoming the third highest-rated player in history. Caruana has represented the United States in two Olympiads, winning team gold in 2016 and team bronze as well as individual bronze in 2018. He had a phenomenal showing in 2018 winning the Grenke Chess Classic, Norway Chess, and tying for first in the Sinquefield Cup with Carlsen and Aronian. Caruana won the 2018 Candidates tournament thus becoming the first American to challenge the World Champion in a unified match in 46 years. After drawing all classical games, Caruana lost the match in rapid tiebreaks.