The world’s chess elite gather at the opening ceremony for the 2017 FIDE Moscow Grand Prix

The world’s chess elite gather at the opening ceremony for the 2017 FIDE Moscow Grand Prix

A host of VIP guests gathered tonight at the Opening Ceremony for the eagerly anticipated FIDE 2017 Moscow Grand Prix.

Israel Gelfer, Vice President of FIDE, the world’s governing body of chess and Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, organizer of the Moscow Grand Prix, welcomed guests from the worlds of sport, entertainment, culture and politics who rubbed shoulders at the lavish event with the 18 Grandmasters who are competing for a prize fund of 130,000 euros.

Mr Gelfer said: (GET SIGN OFF): “Russia has an enduring love affair with chess so it is always special to bring a World Championship Grand Prix event back to Moscow. The 2017 Grand Prix has an incredibly strong field and I know that there will be some incredible games between the world’s best.”

Ilya Merenzon, the Chief Executive of World Chess, the organiser of the World Chess Championship cycle, said: “The eyes of the chess world will be on Moscow once more. We are expecting thousands of spectators at the venue and millions more will watch every move at www.worldchess.com.”

Notable attendees at the opening ceremony included Dmitry Peskov, Natalya Timakova, Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Dvorkovich. Russian Chess Federation President Andrey Filatov and Sergey Karjakin, runner up to Magnus Carlsen in the 2016 World Chess Championship Match.

Players at the Opening Ceremony took part in a draw to decide colours for tomorrow’s first round, which begins at 2pm local time.

The top ranked player in the tournament, which runs from tomorrow until 21 May, is world number five Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France.

Hikaru Nakamura, the 7th strongest player in the FIDE rankings and five other top 20 players will also contest for the first prize of 20,000 euros in a field of 18 competitors. The full list of players is available at www.worldchess.com.

The Grand Prix returns to the Telegraph Building in central Moscow, which previously hosted the 2016 Candidates Tournament won by Sergey Karjakin of Russia. Spectator tickets are available at ponominalu.ru.

Chess fans who are unable to attend can follow every game online. A live video broadcast of the tournament, including expert commentary, costs just $10 and is available at https://worldchess.com/gp2017/

The tournament, a nine round Swiss contest, also features Hou Yifan, the world’s leading female player. It is the second of four Grand Prix in 2017 and follows the Sharjah Grand Prix in February, which was won by Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a three-way tie.

The Moscow Grand Prix is sponsored by EG Capital Partners, PhosAgro, Kaspersky Lab, and VimpelCom.

Beluga is the official VIP program partner while S.T. Dupont is the official writing partner for the World Chess Championship cycle.