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The Casablanca Chess Variant Rapid Tournament: All you need to know

From May 18-19, 2024, GMs Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, and Bassem Amin will gather to compete in a rapid tournament showcasing the innovative Casablanca Chess Variant.

Photo by Philippe Dornbusch

Chess has journeyed through centuries, evolving from the classic games of yesteryear to today’s high-tech, meticulously prepared matches. In our digital era, where opening moves are often pre-planned and engines dominate analysis, the room for on-the-spot creativity has shrunk. To revive the spirit of inventive play and in conjunction with the FIDE 100 celebrations, the Casablanca Stock Exchange in partnership with Casa Events & Animation and the Royal Moroccan Chess Federation present the Casablanca Chess Variant.

In this new format, games begin from positions inspired by notable historical matches—some famous, others less so. This setup invites today’s top players to either follow historical strategies or forge new paths. The Casablanca Chess Tournament will feature these intriguing starting positions, with GMs Laurent Fressinet and Hicham Hamdouchi selecting and revealing them before each game.

The tournament will see elite players from across the globe compete in rapid games. Representing Europe is World No.1 and a former World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. North America will be represented by World No.3 and professional streamer Hikaru Nakamura. From Asia, the five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand will take part. Africa’s strongest Grandmaster, Bassem Amin, will also compete, bringing his extensive experience and numerous titles.

The Casablanca Chess Variant aims to inspire both players and fans by blending the strategic depth of historical chess with the excitement of modern innovations.

IM Polina Shuvalova Claims Victory for the third Time in the 16th Queens Wednesday Tournament

IM Polina Shuvalova secures her third victory in the 16th #QueensWednesday tournament with an impressive score of 9.5/11. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk’s remarkable consistency earns her the second position, marking her 7th appearance in the top 3, amidst a field of formidable competitors.

Photo: FIDE / Anastasiia Korolkove

In a display of exceptional talent, IM Polina Shuvalova emerged triumphant once again, securing victory for the third time in the 16th Queens Wednesday tournament. With a remarkable score of 9.5/11, Shuvalova’s dominance on the virtual chessboard continues to captivate audiences worldwide, solidifying her status as a force to be reckoned with in the chess arena.

Noteworthy among the contenders is GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who clinched the 2nd position with an impressive score of 9/11. What sets Kosteniuk apart is not just her exceptional skill, but her unwavering commitment to the event. Despite her demanding schedule, including participation in the Candidates tournament in Toronto, Kosteniuk’s dedication shines through as she marks her 7th appearance in the top 3 of the Queens Wednesday Series.

Emerging as a fresh face in the top 3 is IM Le Thao Nguyen Pham from Vietnam, showcasing the global reach and diversity of talent in the Queens Wednesday series. Pham’s performance highlights the inclusive nature of the event, providing a platform for players from diverse chess backgrounds to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level.

The tournament also saw consistent excellence from GM Valentina Gunina and IM Meri Arabidze, securing the 4th and 5th positions respectively!

We extend our gratitude to all participants, as we continue to elevate and celebrate the global women’s chess community, inspiring future generations of players to reach for the stars.

Meet you again, on Wednesday the 22nd of May at 17:00 CEST for another Swiss Queens Wednesday Tournament!

Join here

Celebrating 15 Weeks of the Swiss Queens Wednesday Tournaments

For the past 15 weeks, the chess world has been witness to a thrilling display of talent, strategy, and determination in the Swiss Queens Wednesday Tournaments. Held weekly on the FIDE Online Arena, this innovative series has provided a stage for female players with FIDE or FOA titles to showcase their skills in 3+1 blitz Swiss tournaments. In collaboration with FIDE, these events have not only offered a competitive platform but also a community where women in chess can thrive.

From the inaugural tournament to the most recent showdown, each week has been filled with excitement as top female players from around the globe battled it out for supremacy. Grandmasters, International Masters, and emerging talents alike have graced the virtual boards, creating a dynamic and fiercely competitive atmosphere.

Over the course of the 15-week Swiss Queens Wednesday Tournaments, a constellation of female chess stars has shone brightly, each leaving an indelible mark on the series. From the inaugural champion IM Martha L. Fierro Baquero to the formidable GM Valentina Gunina, whose prowess secured victory twice, these tournaments have witnessed a dynamic display of skill and strategy.

Among the champions were also the 2023 FIDE Women’s World Rapid Champion IM Anastasia Bodnaruk, Former World Youth and World Junior Champion IM Polina Shuvalova, IM Gunay Mammadzada, and two-time Women’s World Blitz Chess Champion IM Bibisara Assaubayeva, each demonstrating their mastery over the board. Notably, the 12th Women’s World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk’s dominance was unparalleled, clinching victory in four consecutive tournaments and showcasing her enduring legacy in women’s chess.

These winners collectively embody the spirit of competition, resilience, and excellence that defines the Swiss Queens Wednesday series. We extend our gratitude to all participants, as we continue to elevate and celebrate the global women’s chess community, inspiring future generations of players to reach for the stars.

Meet you again, on Wednesday the 15th of May at 17:00 CEST for another Swiss Queens Wednesday Tournament!

Join here

A Maturity Beyond His Years: Gukesh’s last round mastery & control

Gukesh: “I was just in a mental state where I just do my job properly.”

Photo: FIDE / Michal Walusza

Picture this: the final round of the Candidates Tournament, tension swirling like a tempest in the air. Gukesh, a young GM from Chennai, finds himself in the lead, with Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi, and Caruana hot on his heels, separated by a mere half point.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The last round sets the stage for a showdown of epic proportions: Caruana and Nepo locked in a must-win duel, while Nakamura and Gukesh engage in a game where a loss spells disaster for the Indian prodigy. A win secures his Challenger’s spot without question; a draw leaves him at the mercy of tiebreaks.

“I was just in a mental state where I just do my job properly, play a good game, and see what happens,” Gukesh reflects afterward. And boy, did he deliver! With nerves of steel, he unveils a brilliant opening idea, initially raising eyebrows but ultimately earning praise from Magnus Carlsen himself.

As the tension mounts on the other board, chaos reigns supreme. Nepo’s ambitious start fizzles out, leaving Caruana with all the chances in the world. But amidst the drama, Gukesh remains a picture of calm, his focus unwavering as he patiently awaits the outcome of the Caruana-Nepo clash.

But let’s peel back the layers, shall we? Gukesh, just 17 years old, faces off against World No.3 with the Black pieces. It’s a daunting challenge, but Gukesh tackles it with the maturity and poise of a seasoned pro, leaving no room for counterplay. He wasn’t dragged by fear or enthusiasm – as he could -, risking to lose the game.

Throughout the nail-biting finale, Gukesh’s determination is palpable. We have many clicks where Gukesh is watching the Caruana-Nepo game to evaluate the result he wants from his own game, a true display of his strategic foresight. Every move, every decision seemed calculated, a testament to his desire to control his destiny.

And when victory finally comes knocking – and only then -, Gukesh’s joy is infectious, his celebrations a testament to the hard work and dedication that brought him to this moment. Yet amidst the tension, Gukesh maintained his composure, graciously shaking Caruana’s hand and exemplifying true sportsmanship.

In the end, Gukesh’s flawless performance, both on and off the board, cements his status as a chess prodigy for the ages. As the youngest Challenger in history by over three years, he’s not just rewriting the narrative of chess—he paves the way for India just like his hero, Viswanathan Anand sir, did.

The Heart of Indian Chess: Gukesh’s Thankful Call with Amruta

Gukesh: “Of course I wanted to say hi to you! How are you? [...] He [Sagar] said you were saying all the time that I was going to win this tournament, so thank you for believing!”

Photo: FIDE / Michal Walusza

In the glow of his recent victory, Gukesh extended a heartfelt connection to Amruta, Sagar’s wife, in a moment that truly warmed the heart.

Amidst the whirlwind of emotions following his win, Gukesh’s first instinct was to ask Amruta how she was, and then express his gratitude for her unwavering belief in his success. Despite the headphones that kept Sagar from hearing their conversation, his beaming smile spoke volumes about his happiness and pride in Gukesh’s achievement.

It was more than just a congratulatory call; it felt like a family celebration, a moment of shared happiness and support. This gesture exemplifies the heartwarming spirit that permeates Indian chess, where players, coaches, and supporters come together as one cohesive unit, united by their love for the game and their genuine care for each other.

In a world where competition is fierce, India’s chess community stands out as a shining example of togetherness. With ambassadors like Gukesh, Sagar, Amruta, and moments like these, chess in India is more than just a game; it’s a family!

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