Grandmaster Hou Yifan will become the first woman to compete in the Champions Chess Tour on Saturday when she joins an elite field of 16 players in the Goldmoney Asian Rapid online tournament.
Hou comes in as a +5000 pick to win the Goldmoney Asian Rapid, according to online sportsbook Unibet.
Hou makes tour debut in Goldmoney Asian Rapid
Those odds suggest that the former Women’s World Chess Champion should be among those fighting for a top-8 spot and a position in the knockout rounds. Hou is a three-time women’s world champion, and currently ranks 85th in the world overall, as well as No. 1 among female players.
Spoke to women's World no.1 Hou Yifan on being part of at the #GoldMoneyAsianRapid, balancing chess and her role as professor at Shenzhen University, on the Magnus-Nepo clash later this year and more. @chess24com @ChampChessTour https://t.co/tCReIPQuD9
— Prasad Ramasubramanian (@PrasadrsTOI) June 24, 2021
As the seventh tournament on the Champions Chess Tour, the Goldmoney Asian Rapid begins the home stretch towards the tour final. There are just three regular events left, and no more majors. That means players will be fighting for five guaranteed spots in the final based entirely on the number of tour points they’ve collected.
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen doesn’t have to worry about that. He booked his place in the Tour Final by winning the FTX Crypto Cup last month, booking his second consecutive tournament win. Still, the Norwegian will look to extend his lead at the top of the tour standings, as higher point totals will give players an edge in the final event.
Carlsen enters the Goldmoney Asian Rapid as a -125 pick to win the tournament. His closest competitor is American grandmaster Wesley So (+600), who has also won two events this season. In fact, Carlsen and So have met in the final of three of the first six tour events, including the recent Crypto Cup.
Ding still looking for first points this season
Anish Giri comes in as the +900 third choice to win. The winner of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, Giri has already clinched his spot in the Tour Final. Chinese grandmaster Ding Liren also sports +900 odds, despite having not yet reached the knockout round in any of his three appearances in tour events this season.
The Goldmoney Asian Rapid will utilize the standard format for Champions Chess Tour events. The 16 players will compete in a full round-robin over three days, playing five games in each session. At the end of the preliminaries, the top eight players will advance to the knockout rounds.
|Goldmoney Asian Rapid Odds (via Unibet)|
|Magnus Carlsen: -125||Wesley So: +600|
|Anish Giri: +900||Ding Liren: +900|
|Levon Aronian: +1400||Alireza Firouzja: +1400|
|Daniil Dubov: +2000||Vladislav Artemiev: +3000|
|Jan-Krzysztof Duda: +3000||Santosh Gujrathi Vidit: +4000|
|Peter Svidler: +5000||Hou Yifan: +5000|
|Adhiban Baskaran: +8000||Salem Saleh: +10000|
|Dommaraju Gukesh: +25000||Arjun Erigaisi: +50000|
At that point, players will compete in two-day matches. Each day, the players will play a four-game “set.” A player earns a full point for winning a set, or a half-point in the case of a 2-2 tie. Should the two-set match end knotted at 1-1, the players will compete in blitz and potentially Armageddon tiebreakers to determine a winner.
The winner of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid will take home a prize of $30,000. The two finalists will face off on July 3-4, with the runner-up earning $15,000.