Grandmaster Wesley So will play his first over-the-board game in more than a year when he clashes with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour dubbed the Superbet Chess Classic unfolding Sunday, June 6, in Bucharest, Romania.
The Cavite-born American will battle it out against nine other foes for a share of the $325,000 prize pool in the standard tournament using a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves and followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment.
“Hope after 17 months I still remember how to do that!” So wrote on his Facebook page, referring to his latest tournament.
World No. 2 Fabiano Caruana of the United States leads the cast along with Levon Aronian of Armenia, Anish Giri of the Netherlands, Alexander Grischuk of Russsia, Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France.
Romanians Constantin Lupulescu and Bogdan-Daniel Deac are entered as wildcards with Deac replacing Richard Rapport of Hungary at the last minute.
Reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia aren’t joining.
So will also take part in the second leg slated June 16 to 23 in Paris, France (rapid and blitz) along with Caruana, Aronian, Radjabov, Vachier-Lagrave, Rapport, Nepomniachtchi, Russian Vladimir Kramnik, Frenchman Etienne Bacrot, FIDE’s Alireza Firouzja and another Russian Peter Svidler.
The Grand Chess Tour has a total prize pool of $1.275 million, including $325,000 per classical tournament and $150,000 for rapid and blitz events plus a bonus prize of $175,000 for the top three overall tour finishers.
The other legs are set in Zagreb, Croatia (rapid and blitz) from July 5-12, Saint Louis, Missouri (rapid and blitz) and the Sinquefield Cup (classical) from Aug. 16 to 18 also in St. Louis.