2021 GCT Field

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. 


Liren Ding



2019 Grand Chess Tour Winner


2018 Olympiad Gold Medallist


Ding Liren is the highest rated Chinese player ever and the second player from China (after Wang Yue) to break into the world’s top 10. He is the first Chinese player to cross 2800. At the age of 16, he became the youngest person ever to win the title of Chinese Champion. He has since won this title twice more in both 2011 and 2012. In the 2015 Tata Steel Tournament, Ding finished in a tie for second place just half a point behind Magnus Carlsen. He has represented China in four Olympiads from 2012 - 2018, leading the team to victory in 2018 and winning individual medals on first board and for showing the highest performance in the entire Olympiad. He also won team gold in the 2015 World Team Championship. Ding Liren is the one of the most solid players, holding the record at the top level for the longest undefeated streak, 100 games with 29 wins and 71 draws.


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.


Wesley So



2016 Grand Chess Tour Winner



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.


Ian Nepomniachtchi



2015 World Rapid Silver Medallist



At just 30 years old, Nepomniachtchi is in the prime of his career. He earned the Grandmaster title at the age of 17 in 2007 and won the prestigious Aeroflot Open the next year, thus qualifying to 2008 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting. In 2010 he won the European individual championship as well as the Russian Superfinal after defeating Sergey Karjakin in a play off. He has won two silver medals in World Rapid Championships and one in World Blitz Championship. He won the 2018 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting and was part of the Russian team which won the 2019 World Team Championship.


Alexander Grischuk



Three Time World Blitz Chess Champion


2009 Russian Chess Champion


Grischuk is a Russian chess player, he was awarded the title of Grandmaster in 2000. Grischuk was the Russian champion in 2009. He is also a three-time world blitz chess champion (2006, 2012, 2015). He has competed in four Candidates' Tournaments: in 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2018. He has also qualified to play in the 2020 Candidates Tournament. Grischuk has won two team gold-medals, three team silvers, one team bronze, and one individual bronze medal at Chess Olympiads. He also holds three team gold medals, one team silver and individual gold, two silver and one bronze from the World Team Chess Championship.


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.


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.


Teimour Radjabov



2019 FIDE World Cup Winner


2021 Airthings Masters Winner


Radjabov is a former child chess prodigy. He earned the title of Grandmaster in March, 2001 at the age of 14. In 2003, Radjabov gained international attention after beating the then world No. 1 Garry Kasparov in the Linares tournament, followed by victories over former world champions Viswanathan Anand and Ruslan Ponomariov all in the same year. He has twice competed at the Candidates Tournament, in 2011 and 2013, and qualified for the 2020 edition. He won the European Team Chess Championship with Azerbaijan in 2009, 2013 and 2017. His major individual achievements include joint first place in the 2007 Corus tournament, winning the 2008 Elista Grand Prix, 2017 Geneva Grand Prix, 2019 FIDE World Cup and 2021 Airthings Masters.


Anish Giri



4 Time Dutch Chess Champion


2017 Reykjavik Open Winner


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.