Magnus Carlsen will join Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana and four qualifiers April 3-7 for the Chessable Masters, the 2nd event on the $2 million 2023 Champions Chess Tour. The Ding Liren vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi World Championship match starts just two days later in Astana, Kazakhstan, so that this will be the last major event Magnus plays as the classical World Champion, at least for the near future.
This year’s Champions Chess Tour sees all places decided on merit, with two invites only for the first event. Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So qualified for Division I of the Chessable Masters by finishing in the top three spots in the Airthings Masters, while Fabiano Caruana made it by winning Division II.
We’ll find out the four players who join them in the top group when the Play-In for the Chessable Masters takes place on Monday, March 13. To reach Division I players will now have to finish in the top 8 of the Swiss tournament and then, right afterwards, win a 2-game match against another player who also finished in the top 8.
The Swiss is open to all grandmasters, as well as titled players who finished in the top 3 of any of the Monday qualifiers. That includes 16-year-old Indian star Aditya Mittal, who is still waiting for FIDE to officially confirm his GM title.
The Play-In will also determine the 48 places in Divisions II and III, with a total prize fund of $235,000 available.
The format in each division is once again double-elimination, with a player only knocked out if they lose two matches.
This is already the 4th edition of the Chessable Masters, with a different winner each year: Magnus Carlsen in 2020, Wesley So in 2021 and Ding Liren in 2022. Ding beat Magnus in the semi-finals before withstanding a Praggnanandhaa comeback to clinch victory in the final.
The ultimate goal of the Tour is to win the 4-player Finals in December and claim the $200,000 top prize, but to do that first you have to qualify for the 8-player Playoffs. You can do that either by winning one of the six Tour events, or by finishing high enough on the overall standings.
After the Airthings Masters the standings look as follows.
Magnus Carlsen, who won after twice beating Hikaru Nakamura in a match, is the first player through to the Playoffs, but he’s still playing the Chessable Masters. That event will be noteworthy as Magnus Carlsen’s last major outing as the classical world champion before he concedes his title to the winner of the Ding Liren vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi World Championship match, which starts just two days after the Chessable Masters ends.
Another curiosity in the run-up to the Chessable Masters is that the other three players qualified — Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So — are the U.S. top 3 and will all be playing in another double elimination, the American Cup, that runs March 17-26 in Saint Louis. The three stars go into that event with just 7 rating points separating them in places 6-8 on the world rankings.
Check out the full 2023 Chess Calendar.