LONDON (Reuters) – World champion Magnus Carlsen unveiled a series of online chess tournaments with $1 million prize money on Thursday having opted out of a competition held by the game’s governing body this month.
The Norwegian was absent when the World Chess Federation (FIDE) held an online Nations Cup between Russia, United States, Europe, China, India and a Rest of the World team.
Yet the 29-year-old has launched his own tour on the back of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational held earlier this month.
“The Invitational was a lot of fun and we heard great feedback from the players, our broadcast partners and the viewers,” Carlsen said in a statement.
The Invitational will serve as the first leg of his new tour.
There will be three more “majors” before a grand final in August featuring winners of the individual tournaments, the organisers said.
“While physical chess tournaments and sports are still either cancelled or postponed, bringing an entire chess tour online is what I feel is right for chess now,” Carlsen added.
Chess tournaments have been disrupted amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Candidates Tournament, one of FIDE’s flagship events, had to be halted midway through in March, while the Chess Olympiad had to be postponed to 2021.
Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, and Iranian prodigy Alireza Firouzja — who were the top four in the first leg — will join eight new players in the tour’s next event, Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge, which starts on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Toby Davis)