The Grand Prix is the first leg in the road to the World Championship; Kaspersky Lab, a global cybersecurity firm, is a sponsor.

The Grand Prix, a series of four tournaments to select two players for the 2018 Candidates tournament, begins in less than two weeks and Agon, the owner of the commercial rights to the World Championship, has announced the list of participants in the series and a new sponsor for it: Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity firms. 

The Grand Prix has 24 players, each of whom will play in three of the four tournaments. The two players with the most points at the end qualify for the Candidates tournament next year to select a challenger for the World Championship. 

The list of players is: Peter Svidler, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk, Dmitry Jakovenko, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Alexander Riazantsev, and Ernesto Inarkiev from Russia; Ding Liren, Li Chao and Wei Yi from China; Anish Giri from the Netherlands; Hikaru Nakamura from the United States; Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France; Levon Aronian from Armenia; Pavel Eljanov from Ukraine; Pentala Harikrishna from India; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov from Azerbaijan; Boris Gelfand from Israel; Michael Adams from England; Richard Rapport from Hungary; Francisco Vallejo Pons from Spain; Jon Ludvig Hammer from Norway; and Salem Saleh from the United Arab Emirates.

The first Grand Prix will be held in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, from Feb. 18 to 27, followed by one in Moscow on May 11 to 22, one in Geneva from July 5 to 16, and one in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on Nov. 15 to 26. 

Each Grand Prix has 18 players and a prize fund of 130,000 euros. 

The Grand Prix will be broadcast exclusively on this site, WorldChess.com, which is owned by Agon.

In addition to the list of players, Agon and the World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE, have announced that Kaspersky Lab, a global leader in providing cybersecurity, with over 400 million users, will be a partner and sponsor of the Grand Prix. 

Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and chief executive of the company, said in an announcement, “I’m very proud that we’re now a partner of the World Chess Championship. The ultimate game of strategy, chess involves lots of excitement and tension too. The top chess tournaments are all about human brainpower – aided today by computer technologies. Some games at the very top level are simply among the top human achievements – real masterpieces. And we’re happy to become a part of this.” 

The partnership between Kaspersky Lab, FIDE and World Chess will include complex cybersecurity protection for FIDE headquarters, several national chess federations, chess players competing in the World Chess Championship, and the online infrastructure for each tournament. 

Georgious Makropoulos, deputy president of FIDE, said, “I am delighted that the world’s top players will have the opportunity to benefit from this partnership with one of the world’s leading cybersecurity company. And it is immensely gratifying to see another global brand sponsor our sport.”

Ilya Merenzon, chief executive of World Chess by Agon, said: “Chess lives and breathes as an IT-related sport, which is played by hundreds of millions of people around the world. This makes Kaspersky Lab a natural partner to the game as it continues to gain in popularity.”