The Candidates 2020

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  • The Candidates 2020

    The Candidates 2020

    December 24, 2019

    From ChessTalk:

    The Candidates tournament, in which eight top grandmasters will contest for the right to challenge the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway), will take place in Yekaterinburg from March 15 till April 5. Four participants are already known: Fabiano Caruana (USA), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Ding Liren and Wang Hao (both China). Two other participants will be determined following the results of the Grand Prix Series; one slot will be granted to the player with the best average rating in 2019. The eighth participant will be nominated by the organizers.

    Updating the list of candidates:
    No Name Rating Rank Qualified as
    1 Fabiano Caruana 2822 2 2018 World Championship runner-up
    2 Ding Liren 2801 3 2019 World Cup runner-up
    3 Alexander Grischuk 2777 5 2019 Grand Prix series winner
    4 Anish Giri 2769 8 Highest average rating for 2019
    5 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2767 9 2019 Grand Prix series runner-up
    6 Teimour Radjabov 2765 10 2019 World Cup winner
    7 Wang Hao 2756 16 2019 Grand Swiss winner
    8 Kirill Alekseenko 2704 37 Organizer Wild Card


    Ian Nepomniachtchi's victory yesterday over Wei Yi meant that he clinched qualification for the Candidates Tournament by finishing in overall second in the series, behind fellow Russian Alexander Grischuk. There was no controversy there, but the fate of the one remaining wild card spot in the tournament wasn't immediately clear.

    Today that led to an open letter from Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's manager:

    Open Letter to the Russian Chess Federation

    Qualification for the Candidates Tournament to be held in Yekaterinburg, March 2020, concluded yesterday in Jerusalem. Congratulations to Ian Nepomniatchi for winning the tournament, and for taking the 7th qualifying spot. The 8th and last place will be awarded by the organizers to a player eligible according to FIDE rules ("wild card"); a questionable privilege that we hope will disappear for the next world championship cycle.

    On November 11th, in a press conference announcing the Russian international chess events of 2020, the President of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF), Andrei Filatov, had stated that he was pleased with the organization of the Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg, because it "guaranteed the presence of a Russian player".

    The situation has changed since then, as Sacha Grischuk and Ian Nepomniatchi both qualified via the FIDE Grand Prix. The RCF could therefore choose to give the wild card to the only eligible Russian player, Kirill Alekseenko, for his third place at the Grand Swiss that took place on the Isle of Man. But on a purely sporting level, it could legitimately pick Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (MVL), three times eligible and first non-qualified player by 2019 average rating, 2019 World Cup, and 2019 FIDE Grand Prix!

    Whether it opts for a third Russian player or for the most obvious sporting choice, the RCF remains sovereign in its decisions. However, we suggest it takes into consideration the possibility of organizing a MVL-Alekseenko match in order to earn the wild card spot. It would have the merit of preserving sporting equity and would, I believe, meet the wishes of a vast majority of chess enthusiasts throughout the world.

    Laurent Vérat,

    MVL Manager

    The letter was published this morning, but even before it circulated the Russian Chess Federation seem to have extinguished any remaining French hopes. RCF President Andrey Filatov is quoted as follows:

    I would also like to mention a young grandmaster from Saint Petersburg Kirill Alekseenko, who took the first non-qualifying place in the FIDE Grand Swiss. According to the FIDE Regulations, he (the only one from the Russian players) can be nominated by the organizer of the Candidates Tournament. I'd like to thank the head of the Sima-Land company, President of the Sverdlovsk Region Chess Federation Andrey Simanovsky. His company has become the main sponsor of the Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg and thanks to it another Russian player got an opportunity to get a wild card.


    From the English Chess Forum:

    Filatov confirms Alekseenko gets the wild card place despite the growing pressure for an MVL-Alekseenko play-off match for it.

    Sutovsky's take on it for FIDE via FB:

    "I feel there is a gross misunderstanding about the wild-card to Candidates. FIDE is not selecting a player to be awarded with the wild-card. Organizers are. And while there are several brand names that could be selected, it is just natural that the Russian organizers want to have a Russian player. And yes, I agree that the practice of providing a wild-card into the Candidates shall be abandoned altogether, and I will do my utmost to get rid of it - as was already done with Women's Candidates earlier this year."

  • #2
    I feel the idea of the organizer choosing a player is flawed and overtly biast


    • #3
      The Candidates 2020

      February 2, 2020

      FIDE Candidates 2020

      The FIDE Candidates 2020 will take place in Yekaterinburg, Russia from March 15 until April 5. Eight top grandmasters will contest in a double round-robin tournament for the right to challenge the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway).


      Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2842) – qualified as the Challenger of the World Championship match 2018

      Teimour Radjabov (AZE, 2765) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE World Cup 2019

      Ding Liren (CHN, 2805) – qualified as the finalist of the FIDE World Cup 2019

      Wang Hao (CHN, 2758) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2019

      Alexander Grischuk (RUS, 2777) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix 2019

      Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS, 2774) – qualified as one of two top finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2019

      Anish Giri (NED, 2763) – qualified by rating as the player with the highest average rating for 12 rating periods from February 2019 to January 2020

      Kirill Alekseenko (RUS, 2704) – was given a wild card by the organizers


      Day 1 – Arrivals
      Day 2 – Opening Ceremony & Technical Meeting
      Day 3 – Round 1
      Day 4 – Round 2
      Day 5 – Round 3
      Day 6 – Free day
      Day 7 – Round 4
      Day 8 – Round 5
      Day 9 – Round 6
      Day 10 – Free day
      Day 11 – Round 7
      Day 12 – Round 8
      Day 13 – Round 9
      Day 14 – Free day
      Day 15 – Round 10
      Day 16 – Round 11
      Day 17 – Round 12
      Day 18 – Free day
      Day 19 – Round 13
      Day 20 – Round 14
      Day 21 – Tie-breaks & Closing Ceremony
      Day 22 – Departures

      Players from the same federation play each other in earlier rounds: Ding Liren and Wang Hao will play each other in rounds 1 and 8; Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Kirill Alekseeko – in rounds 1, 2, 3 and 8, 9, 10.

      The Regulations for the Candidates Tournament 2020 can be found at:


      • #4
        The Candidates 2020

        February 8, 2020

        There are questions about the participation of Ding Liren and Wang Hao in the tournament due to the new virus in China. Geoff Chandler in the English Chess Forum suggested today:

        They might have to play the games on line (Fischer playing in Cuba in 1965 style).

        What a splendid idea! It would be unfair to field substitutes for the two Chinese should it come to that. Everyone plays on line these days anyway. So why not?

        There may be some who forget Fischer’s ‘Cuban’ tournament in 1965, so I have attached coverage of the first round of that event:

        Teletype Chess Begun By Fischer

        Harold C. Schonberg

        In The New York Times, Thursday, August 26, 1965

        Bobby Fischer’s participation in the Cuban Capablanca Memorial Chess Tournament finally came to pass last night. Playing the black pieces in a closed room of the Marshall Chess club, he answered Heinz Lehmann’s first move cable from Havana shortly after 8 o’clock. Fischer won in 35 moves.

        The main room of the club at 23 West 19th Street was filled with chess lovers, noisy ones, many of them listening to a move-by-move analysis delivered by Dr. Milton Hanauer, a well-known player. But very little noise penetrated the playing room.

        Mr. Fischer leaned back in his chair his jacket on, his eyes closed to mere slits, studying the board.

        He set up a Sicilian Defense to Mr. Lehmann’s first move, Pawn to King 4. He will be sitting in that chair or another at the Manhattan Chess Club, 353 West 57th Street for almost a month, until the 21 games are finished.

        It took about 10 seconds for the moves to be transmitted from the Havana Libre Hotel to the Marshall Chess Club. The Teletype clattered the move and was notated by William Lombard, the American grand master. Then he transcribed it onto a strip of paper and gave it to a runner, who carried it to the game room. Mr. Reinhardt made the move on the board and punched the absent White player’s clock, setting Fischer’s in motion.

        In most tournament play, each player has two and a half hours to make 40 moves. On each move he punches a clock with two dials. At each punch his clock is stopped and the opponent’s is started.

        If a player takes more than the stipulated time, a flag on his clock falls, and his game is forfeit. Many games of course, end before that happens. And if both players complete the 40 moves before the flag falls, the game is adjourned.

        There have been previous cable and telephone matches but this as the first time that 21 players participated in a tournament with the 22nd more than 1,000 miles away.

        The State Department refused permission for Mr. Fischer to go to Havana, and the present compromise was worked out with the Cuban Government. Nobody was prepared to say how much it was paying for the open lines.

        Before the game, the Marshall Chess Club was overrun with reporters, cameramen and television crews. Mr. Fischer was asked whether he had been disturbed by the State Department ruling. “No,” he said.

        Did he consider this a propaganda victory for Mr. Castro? “I really hadn’t considered it. If I win the tournament, It’s a propaganda victory for us. Anyway, I have my own reputation to worry about.”

        The game started five yours late because of difficulties wetting up Teletype communications. There also was a bit of controversy about the referee.

        Arthur Bisguier, the American grand master, had been named, and his selection was agreeable to the Cubans. But Mr. Fischer felt that two American grand masters should not be together in a closed room on the ground that somebody might accuse him of accepting advice.

        In lieu of Mr. Bisguier, Joe Reinhardt, business manager of the United States Chess Federation was pressed into service in an ex officio capacity. Mr. Reinhardt admits to being a Class A player, which is far below master or grand master level.

        The results of all the other games played at the Havana Libre Hotel in the 22-player, 21-round robin follow:

        Victor Ciocaltea-Francisco Perez 0.5-0.5
        Georgi Tringov-Ratmir Kholmov 0-1
        Bruno Parma-Jan Donner 0.5-0.5
        Karl Robatsch-Istvan Bilek 0.5-0.5
        Ludek Pachman-Borislav Ivkov 0.5-0.5
        Eleazar Jiminez-Laszlo Szabo 0.5-0.5
        Efim Geller-Robert Wade 0.5-0.5
        Zbigniew Doda-Alberic O’Kelly 0-1
        Wolfgang Pietzsch-Vassily Smyslov 0-1
        Gilberto Garcia-Eldis Cobo (adjourned)

        The tournament will last through September 26.

        Capablanca Memorial 1965
        Havana CUB
        Lehmann, Heinz – Fischer, Robert James
        B84 Sicilian, Scheveningen, Classical, Nd7 System

        1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.O-O e6 8.f4 b5 9.Bf3 Bb7 10.e5 Bxf3 11.Nxf3 dxe5 12.fxe5 Ng4 13.Qe2 b4 14.Ne4 Ngxe5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Ng5 Qb6+ 17.Kh1 Qb5 18.Qe1 Be7 19.b3 O-O 20.a4 Qc5 21.Qe2 Rac8 22.c4 bxc3 23.Ba3 Qc7 24.Bxe7 Qxe7 25.Qxe5 Rc5 26.Qe2 Rxg5 27.Qxa6 Qb4 28.Rfb1 Rd8 29.a5 h6 30.Qc4 Qxc4 31.bxc4 c2 32.Rc1 Rxa5 0-1

        Tournament Results

        Vasily Smyslov 15.5
        Borislav Ivkov 15
        Evfim Geller 15
        Robert Fischer 15
        Ratmir Kholmov 14.5
        Ludek Pachman 13
        Karl Robatsch 12.5
        Jan Hein Donner 12
        Istvan Bilek 11.5
        Bruno Parma 11 etc.


        • #5
          The Candidates 2020

          February 14, 2020

          The pairings for the tournament were announced today at a ceremony at the Russian Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation.

          The FIDE Candidates 2020 will take place in Yekaterinburg, Russia from March 15th until April 5th. Eight top grandmasters will contest in a double round-robin tournament for the right to challenge the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway).

          FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 pairings

          Round 1 (March 17, 2020)
          Radjabov – Caruana
          Ding Liren - Wang Hao
          Giri - Nepomniachtchi
          Grischuk - Alekseenko

          Round 02 (March 18, 2020)
          Caruana – Alekseenko
          Nepomniachtchi - Grischuk
          Wang Hao - Giri
          Radjabov – Ding Liren

          Round 03 (March 19, 2020)
          Ding Liren - Caruana
          Giri - Radjabov
          Grischuk - Wang Hao
          Alekseenko - Nepomniachtchi

          Round 04 (March 21, 2020)
          Caruana - Nepomniachtchi
          Wang Hao - Alekseenko
          Radjabov - Grischuk
          Ding Liren - Giri

          Round 05 (March 22, 2020)
          Giri - Caruana
          Grischuk - Ding Liren
          Alekseenko – Radjabov
          Nepomniachtchi - Wang Hao

          Round 06 (March 23, 2020)
          Grischuk - Caruana
          Alekseenko - Giri
          Nepomniachtchi - Ding Liren
          Wang Hao - Radjabov

          Round 07 (March 25, 2020)
          Caruana - Wang
          Hao Radjabov - Nepomniachtchi
          Ding Liren - Alekseenko
          Giri - Grischuk

          Round 08 (March 26, 2020)
          Caruana - Radjabov
          Wang Hao - Ding Liren
          Nepomniachtchi - Giri
          Alekseenko - Grischuk

          Round 09 (March 27, 2020)
          Alekseenko - Caruana
          Grischuk - Nepomniachtchi
          Giri - Wang Hao
          Ding Liren - Radjabov

          Round 10 (March 29, 2020)
          Caruana - Ding Liren
          Radjabov - Giri
          Wang Hao - Grischuk
          Nepomniachtchi - Alekseenko

          Round 11 (March 30, 2020)
          Nepomniachtchi - Caruana
          Alekseenko - Wang Hao
          Grischuk - Radjabov
          Giri - Ding Liren

          Round 12 (March 31, 2020)
          Caruana - Giri
          Ding Liren - Grischuk
          Radjabov - Alekseenko
          Wang Hao - Nepomniachtchi

          Round 13 (April 02, 2020)
          Wang Hao - Caruana
          Nepomniachtchi - Radjabov
          Alekseenko - Ding Liren
          Grischuk - Giri

          Round 14 (April 03, 2020)
          Caruana - Grischuk
          Giri - Alekseenko
          Ding Liren - Nepomniachtchi
          Radjabov - Wang Hao