2020 FIDE Candidates Tournament: Everything you need to know about the most competitive event in chess


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Get ready for the fast-approaching 2020 Fide Candidates tournament – the penultimate stage of the World Chess Championship cycle and, without doubt, the most exciting until the final showdown.

This is an all-play-all tournament to decide who has the right to challenge the king of chess, Magnus Carlsen. It is the nearest chess gets to a Bruce Lee film.

Where and when is it?

The FIDE Candidates 2020, the tournament’s proper name, is scheduled for March 16, when the opening ceremony will take place, to April 4. It has a prize fund of €500,000 and there will be a total of 14 days of play, excluding tie-breaks.

The event will be held in Yekaterinburg, a Russian city east of the Urals, at the Hyatt Regency, a five-star luxury hotel in the heart of the city.

Who will win the right to face Magnus Carlsen?
Who will win the right to face Magnus Carlsen?

Yekaterinburg is famous for being the site of the Romanov executions in 1918 when Russia’s ruling family, including  Tsar Nicholas II, were executed.

Will Yekaterinburg be the first step on the way to the present Tsar of chess being deposed? We’ll find out in November when the World Chess Championship takes place.

Who is taking part?

The eight competitors qualified for the Fide Candidates tournament via a variety of routes. Here is the line-up:

  1. Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2842) – qualified as the Challenger of the World Championship match 2018
  2. Teimour Radjabov (AZE, 2765) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE World Cup 2019
  3. Ding Liren (CHN, 2805) – qualified as the finalist of the FIDE World Cup 2019
  4. Wang Hao (CHN, 2758) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2019
  5. Alexander Grischuk (RUS, 2777) – qualified as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix 2019
  6. Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS, 2774) – qualified as one of two top finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2019
  7. 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
  8. Kirill Alekseenko (RUS, 2704) – was given a wild card by the organizers

What is the Fide Candidates tournament format?

The Fide Candidates tournament is an eight-player double round-robin. In the end, Carlsen’s next challenger will emerge.

Round 1 will take place on March 17 and then the pattern will be three rounds of play and then a rest day, followed by three more rounds of play.

If necessary, tie breaks will be held on the final day along with the closing ceremony.

Here are the pairings for Round 1:

Radjabov  Caruana
Ding Liren Wang Hao
Giri Nepomniachtchi
Grischuk Alekseenko


You may notice one of the rules is that players from the same federation play each other in earlier rounds. So for example in round 1 Ding Liren and Wang Hao will play each other.

In the FIDE Candidates 2020 tournament the players have 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes to the end of the game, with a 30-second increment from move 1. No draw offers are allowed until after move 40.

Who is the favorite?

At this stage, it seems most people’s tips are either the 2018 Candidates tournament winner Caruana or Ding Liren, the impressive Chinese number 1.

Ding went on an incredible 100-game unbeaten streak of classical chess games from August 2017 to November 2018. If you want to find out more about that, check this out: The Golden Streak: Ding Liren’s Tactics & Strategy in 100 Unbeaten Games.

However, Carlsen has since bettered that and remains on his own record-breaking unbeaten run. Don’t discount Ding though, he is still considered a big threat.

Caruana, meanwhile, is way out in front as the FIDE Candidates 2020 favorite. He has experience of getting through this stage and facing Carlsen, plus he is the world number 2 and closest to Carlsen in the ratings.

Caruana, who challenged Carlsen last time, is the FIDE Candidates 2020 favorite
Caruana, who challenged Carlsen last time, is the FIDE Candidates 2020 favorite

Unibet, the betting company that takes an interest in chess and recently sponsored Carlsen personally, currently has the following odds:

  • 21/20 Caruana
  • 9/4 Ding
  • 7/1 Grischuk
  • 8/1 Nepomniachtchi

Where can I watch the Fide Candidates 2020?

We recommend our partner chess24, where you can follow all the Fide Candidates 2020 games live with commentary here. Other streams are available, of course.

But on Chessable we will also be releasing our own Candidates 2020 tactics course so you can not only keep up with the action, but learn lessons from it. This course will be released soon – stay posted!

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