The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour burst on the scene earlier this year to provide world-class chess players with big money online tournaments throughout the spring and summer. Now, the Play Magnus Group is expanding on that idea with the Champions Chess Tour, a 10-event series beginning later this month.

Champions Chess Tour
Magnus Carlsen (left) will enter the Champions Chess Tour as the favorite, just as he has in every online and live chess event in 2020. (Image: Lennart Ootes/Altibox Norway Chess)

The Skilling Open will kick off the new tour, beginning on Nov. 22.

Champions Chess Tour to Feature 10 Events

16 players will take part in the debut event, though the tour has yet to announce a list of participants. Skilling, a Nordic trading platform, is sponsoring the event and has entered into a year-long partnership with Play Magnus. In addition, Magnus Carlsen will take on the role of ambassador for Skilling.

“I have been fascinated by Skilling as a fintech player, and I like the attitude of making things accessible and easy for both beginners and experienced players,” Carlsen said in a statement. “We share the view that everyone with an interest in something should have the opportunity to exploit and develop their full potential.”

The Champions Chess Tour will feature a total of 10 events between November and next September. Each tournament will see top players compete in rapid chess. The tour will include three majors and six regular events, and will conclude with a Grand Final. It is unclear whether the Skilling Open slots in as a major or a normal tour event.

In total, players will compete for $1.5 million in prizes over the course of the tour. Organizers will begin announcing participants on a daily basis beginning on Nov. 4.

Carlsen Rewards Bettors Backing the Chalk

The Champions Chess Tour follows on the heels of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, which offered players $1 million in prize money over four main events and a Grand Final. Carlsen won three of the four regular-season events, then held off American Hikaru Nakamura in a thrilling seven-match series to win the final of his namesake tour.

Carlsen holds the title of World Chess Champion, as well as the world rapid and blitz titles to go along with his tour victory. He entered every event of the previous tour as a favorite over the field, and a substantial favorite to win each and every match he played – though there were upsets along the way. Nakamura typically ranks as the player most likely to beat the Norwegian in faster time controls, making him a popular second choice to win online tour events.

The Champions Chess Tour should continue the trend of increased betting on chess at sportsbooks. Both the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour and Norway Chess – the first major live chess event help during the COVID-19 pandemic – generated increased handle for overseas sportsbooks. Currently, regulated sportsbooks in the United States do not offer wagering on chess, though some have inquired with regulators about the possibility of adding chess markets.