The marriage sounds odd, but it makes sense to the sponsors of the online FTX Crypto Cup and to the very strong field of elite grandmasters who will compete in it from 23 to 31 May. Its record online $320,000 prize fund includes $100,000 in bitcoin. Watching fans will be able to track the prize pot’s value in real-time to see how it fluctuates. The event is part of the Meltwater Champions Tour, and its winner will qualify for the Tour final over the board in San Francisco in September.
The confirmed entry is exceptionally strong even by the high standards of online chess, including every one of the current world top 10 in the live over-the-board ratings. Such an elite field contains the potential for a memorable contest.
Both Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi are taking part ahead of their €2m, 14-game world title match in Dubai in November-December. Convention has it that the two contestants in a world championship series go into purdah for several months before the start to prepare novel opening strategies with their teams of aides.
This year, though, the preparation time will be shorter for Carlsen, who leads the Tour and will be favourite for the final. Nepomniachtchi’s position is more equivocal, as he has expressed some doubt over continuing to play so close to the Dubai match.
The FTX Crypto Cup starts at 4pm BST on Sunday May 23, with three days of all-play-all rounds followed by a knock-out among the top eight. It is free and live to watch, with grandmaster and computer commentaries, on chess24.com and other major chess websites.
Peter Svidler v Dmitry Andreikin, St Petersburg 2018. How did Black (to move) win brilliantly?
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