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FIDE Grand Prix London 2012 (Press Release)

Agon returns World Chess Championships to its spiritual home

Agon, the company that was recently accorded the commercial rights to the World Chess Championships by FIDE, has announced that the game is to return to Simpson's-in-the-Strand, the spiritual home of chess in Europe. Simpson's will be the setting for the forthcoming Grand Prix event between 20 September and 3 October. The tournament will have a prize fund of 240,000 euros. Agon Press Release 17th July 2012 in full below.

The event, the first Grand Prix in the new World Chess Championship Cycle, was originally scheduled to be played in Chelyabinsk in the Russian Ural mountains, but unresolved issues between FIDE and the Russian Chess Federation led to Agon's decision to transfer the event to London.

Andrew Paulson, the Chief Executive and Founder of Agon, said: "I am delighted to confirm that Simpson's-in-the-Strand will be the venue for the September Grand Prix. As possibly the best-known chess venue in the world, it is the perfect place to kick off the new Championship cycle. However, the requirement to transfer the event to London from Chelyabinsk at this relatively late stage means that it will be a smaller, invite-only event.

"Agon's stewardship of the World Chess Championships really only starts with the London Candidates tournament in March 2013, but I felt compelled to support FIDE when it became apparent that Chelyabinsk wasn't going to work. "

CJ de Mooi, the President of the English Chess Federation (ECF), said: "I am delighted to welcome the Agon Chess Grand Prix to London in our Olympic year. The ECF looks forward to a long partnership with Agon, an innovative company that has proven itself on both the world stage and the chess board."

Simpson's originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house and soon became known as the "home of chess" after attracting the patronage of such chess luminaries as Howard Staunton – the first English world chess champion.

Raymond Keene OBE, chess columnist for The Times newspaper and The Spectator magazine and one of the world's most respected commentators on the sport, said: "I am relishing the return of the World Chess Championships to Simpson's. It is the home of the immortal game and the Grand Prix in September represents the start of a long journey to restore chess to its rightful place in the public imagination after decades in the media wilderness."

The announcement of Simpson's as a venue is indicative of Agon's ambitions for the World Chess Championships.

Agon will be bringing the World Chess Championships to European capital cities, as part of its commitment to bring a sustainable business model to the sport.

Mr Paulson added: "We will shortly be announcing a number of illustrious and historic venues for the World Chess Championship cycle. We are also in discussions with a number of global companies that want to be associated with the pinnacle of this wonderful game."

In 2013, the Championship cycle will be hosted by London, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, Paris and Tromsø.

The confirmed players for the London Grand Prix are:

Sergey Karjakin (2779)

Hikaru Nakamura (2778)

Alexander Grischuk (2763)

Veselin Topalov (2752)

Hao Wang (2739)

Boris Gelfand (2738)

Peter Leko (2730)

Ruslan Ponomariov (2726)

Shakriyar Mamedyarov (2726)

Leinier Dominguez Perez (2725)

Anish Giri (2696)

Rustam Kazimdzhanov (2690)

About Agon:

The World Chess Championship Cycle is the pinnacle of chess and consists of nine events over two years. The 2012-13 Candidates Tournament will take place in London in March and is a double round-robin tournament among eight players; the winner will go on to play the reigning World Chess Champion, Vishy Anand, in the World Championship Match in November 2013. Overlapping, the next cycle will begin this September with the Grand Prix Series, which will be hosted in London, Tashkent, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and Berlin, and the World Cup hosted in Tromsø.

The commercial rights for the World Chess Championship Cycle were accorded to AGON, the company founded by the media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson, by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in February 2012. Mr Paulson is negotiating with commercial brand partners to sponsor the tournaments, allowing him to increase the prize fund to 5.5 million euros and to significantly expand the broadcast coverage of the sport. The events will exploit the interactive potential of online and mobile technology, with broadcast on smartphones, tablets and online supplementing the highlights coverage on global television networks.

Agon will also encourage interactivity between the spectators and the players by developing live and post-live technology, called ChessCasting, that will use biometric inputs, chess engine analysis and human commentary to transform chess into a spectator sport. The product will enable fans to monitor the players' heartbeats, blood pressure and stress levels; track their eye movements over the board; predict the next move and comment on the games' progress. The content will be made available for immediate translation into dozens of languages around the world.

The design agency Pentagram has been hired to create new branding and design for the championships, and to conceive a cockpit where the games will be played.

17 July 2012

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Murray-Watson

Mission PR

Tel: +44 (0)20 7845 7800

Mob: +44 (0)7515 695232


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