World Rapid Chess champion Magnus Carlsen is looking forward to the “exciting prospect” of the upcoming Global Chess League in the UAE.
A joint venture between Tech Mahindra and world governing body FIDE, the GCL will feature Carlsen, a former five-time world chess champion, as an icon player.
With six teams, the inaugural edition of the GCL will be held from June 21 to July 2 at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club in association with the Dubai Sports Council.
Grandmaster Carlsen said: “It is an exciting prospect for me to be a part of. This will be something new. Something that has not been done this way in over-the-board chess. I am looking forward to exploring this format in the future.”
The league will see each of the six franchises play a total of 10 matches in a double round-robin format, with the winner of each match being decided in a best-of-six board-scoring system played simultaneously. The top two teams will qualify for the final and be crowned the World Champion Franchise Team.
Carlsen, who is known for his experimental views on chess, prefers team-format matches.
“Personally I very much enjoy team events and the team spirit within the group. I am looking forward to meeting the other players in the team, and competing with and against the exciting young generation of Indian players. One of the really good things about this tournament is that men and women can compete against each other at the same stage.”
Carlsen also lauded the Indian talent coming through: “I think India is doing a lot of right things so far, and it is a matter of time before it is clearly the leading chess nation in the world.”
Hailing Tech Mahindra’s involvement with the league, Carlsen said: “I am happy that an ambitious partner like Tech Mahindra has joined the chess ecosystem. I believe this is a positive move for chess.”
Carlsen also reminisced about his chess journey and said that he was thankful for his family’s support.
“My family has always been very supportive without ever pushing me, and for that, I’m very grateful. The year we travelled together when I was 13, earning my Grandmaster norms, will always be a fond memory,” he said.