A new $100,000 online event for rising talent is launched on Thursday (3pm start), when the Julius Baer Challengers Tour begins its opening round with 10 under-18 male players and 10 under-25 women. Two legends, Vladimir Kramnik and Judit Polgar, will double as team captains and online commentators.

The event, sponsored by a Swiss private bank, has the 20 players in an all-play-all followed by a knockout among the top eight. The winner gets a place in the main Meltwater Champions Tour, where after four events the world champion Magnus Carlsen has yet to win one.

Player location is a microcosm of where current young talent is strongest. India has four players, the US three, and almost all the rest come from Asia or eastern Europe. Just two are from western Europe, though one of these, Germany’s Vincent Keymer, 16, will be a strong contender. 

The under-18 limit ruled out Russia’s Andrey Esipenko, 19, America’s Jeffery Xiong, 20, and the Netherlands’ Jorden van Foreest, 21, all potential contenders for the top of world chess. On the women’s side, Aleksandra Goryachkina, 22, the world No2, declined her invitation for unknown reasons.

It is hard to forecast the overall winner. India’s Nihal Sarin, 16, is the highest rated player, but several others are close. Unfortunately England is not at the races in junior chess.


Velimir Ilić v Vladimir Dobrov, Serbia 2017. Both players have dangerous attacks, but Black is to play. What was his winning move?

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