The Grand Prix series, which is part of the World Championship cycle, is expanding the number of participants and changing its format

The World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE, and Agon, the commercial partner of the federation, are announcing significant changes to the Grand Prix series of tournaments. 

The Grand Prix, a series of four tournaments, is an important part of the World Championship cycle. The top two finishers in the Grand Prix are seeded into the Candidates tournament to select a challenger for the World Championship. In the Candidates tournament last month, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, the two Americans, were the two players who qualified by finishing one and two, respectively, in the 2014-2015 Grand Prix

That Grand Prix had 16 players, each of whom played in three of the four tournaments. The tournaments were round-robins and 11 rounds. The 2016-2017 Grand Prix will expand to 24 players. Each player must have a minimum rating of 2700 and each tournament will be nine rounds, organized as Swiss systems. There will be 18 players in each tournament.

The total prize fund for the four tournaments is 520,000 euros, or 130,000 per tournament. There will also be money to cover travel expenses and hotel rooms will also be provided.

The Grand Prix dates are Oct. 12 to 23, 2016; Feb. 10 to 21, 2017; May 11 to 22, 2017; and July 5 to 16, 2017. Locations have not been announced.

The complete set of regulations is on FIDE’s Web site.

The qualifiers for the Grand Prix will be the World Champion and his opponent in the most recent title match (in this case, Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand); the four semifinalists from the 2015 World Cup (Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Pavel Eljanov and Anish Giri); eight players based on rating; the highest rated participant in the Association of Chess Professional tournaments who has not already qualified; and nine players invited by FIDE and Agon, based on the regulations of the Grand Prix and proposals from national federations.

Any players who decline to play in the Grand Prix, (and several, like Carlsen, are likely not to play), will be replaced by another player whose rating is over 2700.

The other major change will be in how the tournaments are sponsored. Instead of looking for a major sponsor, or sponsors, for each event, individual sponsors will be recruited for each player. The cost will be 100,000 euros per player, with each player receiving 20,000 euros from his sponsor, 15,000 euros going to each player’s federation, and the balance going to organizing costs and the prize funds.

Players will be required to wear the sponsor’s logo during the tournament, the sponsor’s logo will appear on the player’s table placard, and the sponsor’s logo will also appear on the rating page of the player on this site — World Chess.com

FIDE, Agon and national federations will be responsible for recruiting sponsors. Players will not need sponsors to participate in the Grand Prix, but players who do not have sponsors will not get the extra 20,000 euros in revenue.