The tournament's favorite Hikaru Nakamura made his ambitions to win the competiton again perfectly clear with a convincing victory in the Opening Blitz that was held to determine the starting numbers and colors for the Rapid. Even a loss in the last round against Indian Viswanathan Anand couldn't stop the "H-bomb" from finishing clear first with 3,5 out of five.

The opening ceremony of the 2016 Zurich Challenge will start at 6 pm with, among other, a musical performance of three famous musician:

ilya gringoltsIlya Gringolts will play the Stradivari and is, according to Financial Times, "one of the most inspirational violinists today". He's born in 1982 in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) Gringolts and studied violin there with Tatiana Liberova and Jeanna Metallidi. Afterwards, he attended the Juilliard School, and studied violin with Itzhak Perlman for 3 years.

Gringolts is currently on the music faculty of the "Zürcher Hochschule der Künste". In addition to the modern violin, he has a continued commitment to period-instrument performance. He founded the Gringolts Quartet in 2008 and plays first violin in the quartet. Gringolts plays the "ex-Kiesewetter" Stradivarius violin, loaned to him by the Stradivari Society of Chicago.


bors andrianovBoris Andrianov is also one of the most gifted Russian musicians of his generation. He has gained his reputation thanks to his successful performances at: the XIth International Tschaikovsky Competition (Moscow, 1998) - the third prize and a bronze medal; International Cello Antonio Janigro Competition (Zagreb, Croatia) - the first prize and all the special prizes. Andrianov's talent was recognized by well-known musicians, such as Mstislav Rostropovich and Daniil Shafran who said:"Boris Andrianov is probably one of the most talented cellists of Russia at present."
Since 2005 Boris plays on Montagnana cello from Russian State Collection.


illarionovDmitry Illarionov is one of the most talented guitarists of modern Russia, who, despite his youth is already being called "a virtuoso of extra class." He was born in 1979 in Chisinau. At the age of seven years began studying classical guitar. According to Illarionov, this passion has come "by itself" as a family of musicians has never been.

Illarionov is the winner and laureate of numerous international competitions in the USA, Spain, Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Russia. These include the Grand Prix in the VI International Promotional Competition "Guitar Talents' Review" (Gdańsk, Poland - 1999) and the title of "The Greatest Hope" in the "Tenth Gdańsk Meeting of Guitarists"; First Prize and Prize of Public in the VIII International Guitar Competition in Coria (Spain - 2004); First Prize in the Russian International Guitar Competition - "Guitar in Russia" in Voronezh (Russia - 2002).

Right before the start of the 2016 Zurich Chess Chellange, main Sponsor Oleg Skvortsov will play an exhibition match against GM Boris Gelfand at 3 pm that will be broadcasted live on our site. Being a strong competitive player himself who was rated around 2300 in his active days, Skvortsov will be granted only a small advantage on the clock: Gelfand will have 20 minutes plus 10 seconds per move, and Skvortsov 40 minutes plus 10 seconds per move respectively.

Skvortsov frequently challenges top Grandmasters for private rapid matches and not without success - he has several wins and draws even against world class players at his credit. His playing style is, as opposed to his appearance as a businessman, quite aggressive, which gave him a reputation as a strong tactician.

As the russian oligarch chose the black pieces against Gelfand, we're looking forward to seeing what strategy he will come up to withstand the strong positional play by his world-class opponent.

There are only a few days left until the start of the 2016 Zurich Chess Challenge, so it's just about time to have a closer look at some statistics.

First of all, let's see how the players perform against each other in classical time control. The rows show the results of each player with the white pieces while the columns present the corresponding headups with black.

Classical statistics crosstable

Kramnik ** +2 =4 -3 +7 =32 -4 +10 =15 -3 +5 =9 -1 +5 =0 -0
Nakamura +2 =4 -2 ** +2 =4 -0 +2 =0 -0 +4 =6 -2 +2 =11 -1
Anand +6 =34 -0 +1 =6 -4 ** +12 =9 -1 +2 =10 -4 +0 =5 -0
Shirov +9 =13 -5 +0 =1 -0 +1 =18 -4 ** +0 =7 -2 +1 =5 -1
Aronian +3 =15 -2 +9 =6 -2 +5 =13 -2 +3 =6 -0 ** +1 =4 -0
Giri +0 =4 -1 +1 =7 -1 +1 =4 -0 +3 =2 -0 +0 =5 -3 **


Alexander MorozevichBoris Gelfand

In order to further promote the new time control suggested by Mainsponsor Oleg Skvortsov, the well known Grandmasters Boris Gelfand (Vice World Champion 2012) and Alexander Morozevich (Runner-up of the SG Zurich Jubilee-Open 2009) will compete in a two-round match on Saturday, February 13th at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. This match will take place simultaneously to the first two rounds of the main event (3pm & 6pm) in the Festsaal.