Chess ICONs Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Viswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Others Up for Grabs in Historic Global Chess League Draft | Tech Mahindra

Chess ICONs Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Viswanathan Anand, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Others Up for Grabs in Historic Global Chess League Draft

Global Chess League's Six Franchises Set to Engage in 10 Fierce Matches, Determining Winners through Best-of-Six Board Scoring System

Women Grandmasters Steal the Show at the Action-Packed Inaugural Global Chess League Draft

The Global Chess League, a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and FIDE, held its first draft for the highly anticipated inaugural edition in Mumbai. The GCL, scheduled to take place from June 21st to July 2nd, 2023, at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club in association with the Dubai Sports Council, has captured the attention of chess enthusiasts worldwide, with renowned players like Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Ding Liren, and Hou Yifan leading the pack.

The draft witnessed the selection of 36 of the world's best chess players, who were drafted by six GCL franchises: Ganges Grandmasters owned by Suresh Kotak led-Insurekot Sports (ISPL), Triveni Continental Kings owned by Triveni Group (Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd. and Triveni Turbine Ltd.), SG Alpine Warriors owned by APL Apollo-led SG Sports, Chingari Gulf Titans owned by Chingari App (Tech4Billion Group), upGrad Mumba Masters owned by Ronnie Screwvala led-U SPORTS, and Balan Alaskan Knights owned by Punit Balan Group (PBG). The players were divided into four categories: ICONS, Superstars Men, Superstars Women, and Prodigies.

In a thrilling bidding process, Magnus Carlsen, the Five-time World Chess Champion and the top-ranked player in the world was selected by the SG Alpine Warriors. The five-time World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand, joined the Ganges Grandmasters. The current World Champion, Ding Liren was drafted by Triveni Continental Kings. Other notable selections included Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda by Chingari Gulf Titans and Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi by Balan Alaskan Knights. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joined upGrad Mumba Masters as their ICON player.

Each team was allocated a total of 1000 points to be used while choosing players from categories two, three and four, barring the ICONS. The ICON players were selected for the team based on a preferential draft system.

After the ICONs, it was the turn of the Superstar Men, who were slotted to be drafted. Each franchise picked up the mandatory quota of two male players in their squad of six players. Teimour Radjabov & Nodirbek Abdusattorov were drafted to Balan Alaskan Knights, whereas Chingari Gulf Titans picked up Shakhriyar Mamedyarov & Daniil Dubov after an intense contest with the other teams. Ganges Grandmasters picked up Richárd Rapport & Leinier Domínguez Pérez; SG Alpine Warriors got its favoured pick of the Indian duo of Gukesh D & Arjun Erigaisi. Triveni Continental Kings picked up their favoured grandmasters in Wei Yi & Yu Yangyi, whereas upGrad Mumba Masters got their preferred combination of Alexander Grischuk & Vidit Gujrathi. In this category, the maximum points 350 were used to acquire Grandmaster Nodirbek Abdusattorov to the Balan Alaskan Knights.

Speaking about being drafted into upGrad Mumba Masters, Grandmaster Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime said, “It’s a matter of pride for me to be a part of team upGrad Mumba Masters. I am sure that GCL will be a game-changer, and I look forward to getting together with my teammates in Dubai and competing for the crown.”

Next up were the Superstar Women, who were slotted to be drafted and all the franchises went all out to garner the services of world’s top ranked women Chess Grandmaster Hou Yifan.  Yifan became the highest points bid in the first edition of the drafts among both Superstar Men & Women categories. Grandmaster Yifan’s services were acquired as much as 470 points and picked up by the Ganges Grandmasters. Along with Grandmaster Yifan, they picked up Grandmaster Bella Khotenashvili. upGrad Mumba Masters picked up the Indian pair of Koneru Humpy & Harika Dronavalli at 360 & 330 points, respectively. Grandmasters Alexandra Kosteniuk & Polina Shuvalova were drafted into Chingari Gulf Titans. Triveni Continental Kings picked up Grandmasters Kateryna Lagno and Georgian Nana Dzagnidze. Balan Alaskan Knights got their preferred picks in Tan Zhongyi and Nino Batsiashvili. As a result, SG Alpine Warriors added to their team with Elisabeth Pähtz & Irina Krush from the Superstar Women category. 

Amongst the top women Grandmasters, the highest bid Hou Yifan who was picked up by the Ganges Grandmasters said, “With the draft finally concluding, we are up for an exciting contest in Dubai. I am happy to know that I was the highest-bid player among the three categories. I am looking forward to being on the same team as Viswanathan Anand and also to have the likes of Richárd Rapport, Leinier Domínguez, Bella Khotenashvili, and Andrey Esipenko on our team; I eagerly look forward to this year’s championship.”

The last category in the draft was the prodigy category, each franchise picked up 1 each.  Praggnanandhaa R became the highest bid players among the U21 category by being bid by the SG Alpine Warriors at 290 points. Nihal Sarin went to Chingari Gulf Titans, whereas Andrey Esipenko went to Ganges Grandmasters in a lucky draw after receiving an equal point bid by the Triveni Continental Kings. While Jonas Buhl Bjerre was picked by Triveni Continental Kings.

“I am delighted to be a part of team SG Alpine Warriors. From being on opposite sides of the table with most players to being on the same team, I am excited to meet my teammates and see how we can make the most of this experience and apply it to future competitions,” said Praggnanandhaa R who was drafted to the SG Alpine Warriors.

The Global Chess League will showcase an intense competition as each of the six franchises will engage in a double round-robin format, playing a total of 10 matches. The matches will be decided using a best-of-six board scoring system, played simultaneously, adding an extra layer of excitement to the tournament. The top two teams emerging from the league will advance to the final, scheduled for July 2nd, 2023, where the coveted title of World Champion Franchise Team will be awarded.

To ensure the smooth progress of the tournament, there are 3 Chess players who have been chosen as reserve players who will be assigned to the particular team in case, due to any unforeseen circumstances, the current squad member/s cannot participate.

On successful completion of the first draft for the inaugural edition of GCL, Jagdish Mitra, Chairperson, Global Chess League Board said, “We witnessed a power-packed day at the GCL draft. All the squads look strong and at par with each other; now, we will have to wait and see the action unfold at GCL in Dubai. We are happy to see Hou Yifan as the highest bid player among all categories, and it also shows that our whole objective of bringing diversity into the teams has already started showing results.”

Final Squad lists below -



Balan Alaskan Knights

Chingari Gulf Titans

Ganges Grandmasters

SG Alpine Warriors

upGrad Mumba Masters

Triveni Continental Kings

Icon Player

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

Viswanathan Anand

Magnus Carlsen

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Ding Liren

Superstar Men 1

Teimour Radjabov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Richárd Rapport

Gukesh D

Vidit Gujrathi

Wei Yi

Superstar Men 2

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Daniil Dubov

Leinier Domínguez Pérez

Arjun Erigaisi

Alexander Grischuk

Yu Yangyi

Superstar Women 1

Tan              Zhongyi

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Hou Yifan

Elisabeth Pähtz

Koneru Humpy

Kateryna Lagno

Superstar Women 2

Nino Batsiashvili

Polina Shuvalova

Bella Khotenashvili

Irina Krush

Harika Dronavalli

Nana Dzagnidze


Raunak Sadhwani

Nihal Sarin

Andrey Esipenko

Praggnanandhaa R

Javokhir Sindarov

Jonas Buhl Bjerre


The GCL is set to captivate chess enthusiasts around the world with its innovative format and inclusion of top-tier players. Stay tuned for thrilling matches and remarkable displays of chess prowess as the Global Chess League unfolds in Dubai.

About Tech Mahindra Global Chess League:

The Global Chess League is the world's first and largest official franchise league of its kind, with chess players from all over the world competing in a unique joint team format. It is a joint venture between Tech Mahindra, a part of the Mahindra Group, and FIDE. GCL will feature male and female chess champions competing in the same team. Playing on the popular Rapid format, the league's joint male-female teams will have the rare distinction of being a unique multiplayer team in the world of professional sports. In addition, the League will be the first ever Live televised chess event of its kind that will help offer fans a unique viewing experience. Tech Mahindra and FIDE will explore innovative ways to promote the game through interactive technology-enabled platforms by leveraging next-generation technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, among others.


For more information on Tech Mahindra Global Chess League, please contact:        
Abhilasha Gupta, Global Corporate Communications and Public Affairs     

About FIDE

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) is the governing body of the sport of chess, and it regulates all international chess competitions. Constituted as a non-governmental institution, it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a Global Sporting Organization in 1999. FIDE currently has its headquarters in Lausanne, but it was initially founded in 1924 in Paris under the motto “Gens una Sumus” (Latin for “We are one Family”). It was one of the very first International Sports Federations, alongside the governing bodies of the sports of Football, Cricket, Swimming, and Auto Racing. It is now one of the largest, encompassing 199 countries as affiliate members, in the form of National Chess Federations. Chess is nowadays a truly global sport, with dozens of millions of players in all the continents, and more than 60 million games on average played every day.