An initial roster of ten players was created based upon the rules published on the GCT website. The Initial Roster consisted of the three top finishers in the 2017 GCT, the top 3 (not already selected) based on the average of the 12 monthly FIDE Classical Ratings for the period from 1 February 2017 until 1 January 2018, the Top 3 (not already selected) based on the Universal Rating List as at 1 January 2018 and a wildcard selected by the GCT Advisory Board. Details were announced in the press release which is available here. GM's Vladimir Kramnik and Magnus Carlsen declined their invitations as full tour participants and GM Sergei Karjakin was added as a full tour replacement. A decision was then made to select a single wildcard for each of the 4 regular season tour events to complete the 10 player fields.
The inaugural Grand Chess Tour of 2015 was a circuit of three events in which the format and conditions of each tournament were identical. For 2016, we have enhanced the experience by adding rapid and blitz events in Paris and Leuven in addition to the classical games in Saint Louis and London. In 2017, the St Louis Rapid and Blitz event was also added to the tour roster.
The rapid and blitz tournaments each carry a prize fund of $150,000 whilst the prize fund at the classical tournaments is $300,000 per event. An additional Tour prize fund of $150,000 is awarded to the top 2 players based on their total Tour Points.
The total prize pool on offer over the course of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour is $1,200,000.
We plan and execute some of the best chess events in the world. From organization and amenities to the spectator experience, we show chess as it's meant to be enjoyed.
The Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic are the "gold standard" of professional chess events. With the addition of the Rapid and Blitz events in Paris, Leuven and St Louis, we hope to increase the experience for both the players and spectators alike.
Wildcards are selected by the GCT Advisory Board in consultation with the local organizers for each event. Wildcards should enhance the event by bringing something special. Players who are at or near their peak strength, who are improving rapidly, and who bring a high level of professionalism and sportsmanship are some of the characteristics we look for in potential wildcards.
With a focus on the highest levels of organization and spectator experiences, the Grand Chess Tour is unique in recent history. Nearly 30 years ago, the GMA held a circuit of top tournaments between 1988 and 1989 with similar goals and ambitions. The 2017 circuit is the third annual Grand Chess Tour and continues to evolve and exceed expectations.
We are actively working to identify other organizers and sponsors that share our vision for the future of chess, particularly in countries that can help "the game of kings" become a truly global sport.
Ultimately, the Grand Chess Tour plans to hold at least one major international event on every continent, including Africa and Asia.