Candidates Tournament 2020

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Candidates Tournament 2020
LocationYekaterinburg, Russia
Dates15 March – 5 April 2020
Competitors8 from 5 nations
← 2018
2022 →

The 2020 Candidates Tournament will be an eight-player chess double round-robin tournament played in Yekaterinburg, Russia, from 15 March to 5 April 2020.[1]

The winner will earn the right to challenge the defending world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in the World Chess Championship 2020 match.


The qualifiers for the Candidates Tournament are:[2][3]

Qualification method Player
2018 World Championship runner-up Fabiano Caruana
The top two finishers at the Chess World Cup 2019 Teimour Radjabov (winner)
Ding Liren (runner-up)
The top finisher in the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2019 (who does not qualify by one of the above methods, and is not Carlsen). Wang Hao (winner)
The top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2019 (who do not qualify by one of the above methods). Alexander Grischuk (winner)
Russia Ian Nepomniachtchi (runner-up)
Highest average rating (who does not qualify by one of the above methods, and is not Carlsen). Anish Giri
Wild card chosen by organizer, subject to eligibility criteria Russia Kirill Alekseenko[4] (highest non-qualifier in Grand Swiss)

If one or more players decline the invitation to play in the Candidates Tournament, the players with the next highest average ratings will qualify.

Compared to previous cycles (2014, 2016, 2018), the Grand Swiss is a new addition, and the number of qualifiers by rating has been reduced from two to one. The format of the Grand Prix tournament has also changed.

Qualifier by rating[edit]

The qualifier on rating is the player with the highest average rating for the 12 ratings periods from February 2019 to January 2020, who does not qualify by another method. To be eligible, a player must have played at least 30 games during these 12 ratings periods, and at least 18 in the final 6 ratings periods.[3]

The following table shows the ratings of the players with the top average ratings from February 2019 to January 2020.[5] It includes the first eleven players except for world champion Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana (who qualifies as the 2018 challenger), Ding Liren (who qualifies as a finalist of the 2019 World Cup), Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi (the winner and runner-up of the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix). All of the players in the table met the above game count requirements.

The qualifier by rating is Anish Giri.

Rank Player Feb 2019 Mar 2019 Apr 2019 May 2019 Jun 2019 Jul 2019 Aug 2019 Sep 2019 Oct 2019 Nov 2019 Dec 2019 Jan 2020 Total Average
4 Netherlands Anish Giri 2797 2797 2797 2787 2779 2779 2779 2780 2780 2776 2769 2768 33388 2782.33
5 France Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2780 2775 2773 2780 2779 2775 2778 2774 2774 2777 2780 2770 33315 2776.25
6 Azerbaijan Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2790 2790 2793 2781 2774 2765 2764 2767 2767 2772 2772 2770 33305 2775.42
9 India Viswanathan Anand 2779 2779 2774 2774 2767 2764 2756 2765 2765 2757 2757 2758 33195 2766.25
10 Armenia Levon Aronian 2767 2761 2763 2762 2752 2756 2765 2758 2758 2772 2775 2773 33162 2763.50
11 United States Wesley So 2765 2762 2762 2754 2754 2763 2776 2767 2767 2760 2760 2765 33155 2762.91

Wild card[edit]

One wild card was selected by the organizer. This player must have participated in at least two of the three qualifying tournaments (World Cup, Grand Swiss and Grand Prix) and also must have met one of the following conditions: highest non-qualifier in the World Cup and also in the final 4 of the World Cup; highest non-qualifier in the Grand Swiss or Grand Prix; or in the top 10 by average rating from February 2019 to January 2020.

Four players were eligible:[6] Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (third in the World Cup, third in the Grand Prix, fifth in the rating list); Kirill Alekseenko (highest non-qualifier in the Grand Swiss and also played in the World Cup); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (sixth in the rating list, played in the World Cup and Grand Prix) and Levon Aronian (tenth in the rating list, played in the World Cup and Grand Prix). Viswanathan Anand was ninth in the rating list but only participated in the Grand Swiss, and thus was ineligible to be picked as the wild card player.

On 11 November 2019, Andrey Filatov, the president of the Russian Chess Federation, announced the intention to use the wild card to choose a Russian player, stating: "The decision to host this event in Russia guarantees that there will be a Russian player participating. We’re still considering different options how we’ll choose a Russian wild-card but it will probably be a match or match-tournament with Kirill Alekseenko [...]."[1] At the time of the announcement Alekseenko was the only Russian guaranteed to be eligible for the wild card. With Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi subsequently qualifying through the Grand Prix, Alekseenko was the only Russian eligible for the wild card.[7][8]

Managers of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave expressed their concern with the current FIDE rules in an open letter to the Russian Chess Federation, asking to organize a match between Vachier-Lagrave and Alekseenko for their wild card placement,[9] on the basis that Vachier-Lagrave was eligible for the wild card in three different ways.[10]

On 23 December 2019, the Russian Chess Federation confirmed that Kirill Alekseenko was chosen to play as the "wild card" for the Candidates Tournament.[4]


The tournament will be contested as an eight player, double round-robin tournament, meaning there will be 14 rounds with each player facing each other twice: once with the black pieces and once with the white pieces. The tournament winner qualifies to play Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship late in 2020.


The time control will be 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game; plus a 30-second increment per move starting from move 1.


FIDE announced the pairings on February 14 of 2020[11]. Players from the same country must play each other in the earlier rounds: Ding Liren and Wang Hao will play each other in rounds 1 and 8; while Grischuk, Nepomniachtchi and Alekseenko will play each other in rounds 1 to 3 and rounds 8 to 10.[3]



There are a number of reports that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is affecting the preparation of the Chinese players, Wang Hao and Ding Liren. Both players admitted that they cancelled their training camps and had to prepare online with their assistants.[12][13]


1  Fabiano Caruana (USA) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
2  Teimour Radjabov (AZE) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
3  Ding Liren (CHN) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
4  Wang Hao (CHN) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
5  Alexander Grischuk (RUS) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
6  Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
7  Anish Giri (NED) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
8  Kirill Alekseenko (RUS) 0 0 0 0 0                                                               
  • Tie-breaks are in order: 1) head-to-head score among tied players, 2) total number of wins, 3) Sonneborn–Berger score (SB), 4) tie-break games.[3]
  • Numbers in the crosstable in a white background indicate the result playing the respective opponent with the white pieces (black pieces if on a black background).


  1. ^ a b Candidates Tournament to Take Place in Yekaterinburg from March 15 till April 5, 11 November 2019, Chess Federation of Russia
  2. ^ Bidding Procedure for the FIDE Candidates' Tournament 2020, FIDE, 8 March 2020
  3. ^ a b c d Regulations for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020, FIDE
  4. ^ a b “Ruchess - Statement of the CFR President:"Andrey Filatov: Kirill Alekseenko to Get Wild Card from Organizer of FIDE Candidates Tournament (23 December, 2019)”
  5. ^ FIDE Top 100 lists for 2019: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December; January 2020
  6. ^ Chess: France’s top player clings to a slender hope of Candidates place, Leonard Barden, The Guardian, 20 Dec 2019
  7. ^ Chess: France’s top player clings to a slender hope of Candidates place, Leonard Barden, The Guardian, 20 December 2019
  8. ^ Ian Nepomniachtchi wins Jerusalem Grand Prix, qualifies to Candidates, Chessbase, December 23 2019
  9. ^ “ChessNews:"Vachier-Lagrave appeals for Candidates wild card”
  10. ^ Doggers (PeterDoggers), Peter. "Alekseenko's Candidates Participation Confirmed As MVL Appeals With Open Letter". Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Coronavirus Affecting Chinese Candidates Preparation
  13. ^ Perlen vom Bodensee – das Schachmagazin: Corona virus threatening the Candidates: Can Ding Liren and Wang Hao make it?