In a surprising turn of events, the Altibox Norway Chess Tournament has withdrawn from the Grand Chess Tour which also features the London Chess Classic and the Sinquefield Cup. Early speculation ran rampant that the Grand Chess Tour was doomed because of this setback since Norway Chess was an immensely popular and successful event in 2015. The Norway Chess tournament directors issued a statement in which they explain that the decision to leave the GCT was more about securing the future of their vision for Norway Chess and not necessarily problems with the idea of the GCT itself. Unfortunately, politics abounds in the world of professional chess and differences in vision between organizations like Norway Chess and GCT are an inevitability.
Personally, I like the idea of the unified GCT but given the current landscape of established major chess tournaments it is hard to see it becoming a longterm viable option for promoting professional chess. Part of the challenge is the ego factor that comes with organizing and running a large-scale successful tournament. Control is a key objective in chess and just like control of the center squares can improve a player’s game security, control of tournament operations also levies a significant amount of security. I doubt that many TD’s are really interested in giving up that control right now, but only time will tell.
- Norway Chess: complete press release.
- Chess.com: article.
- ChessBase: article.