International Chess Federation
Monday, 25 Mar 2024 08:09
FIDE Candidates 2024: All set for the chess tournament of the year in Toronto

The FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 is set to take place in Toronto, Canada, from April 3 to 23, 2024. This event marks a historic occasion as it is the first time the Candidates Tournament will be held in North America. Another first for the 2024 edition: the FIDE Candidates and FIDE Women’s Candidates are organized together under one roof on the same dates.

What: FIDE Candidates Tournament

Where: The Great Hall, Toronto, Canada

When: April 3-23, 2024

Who: Caruana, Nakamura, Firouzja, Nepomniachtchi, Gukesh, Praggnanandhaa, Vidit, Abasov, Goryachkina, Lei, Koneru, Lagno, Tan, Anna Muzychuk, Vaishali R, Salimova

Why: The winner will challenge the World Champion for the title

All info:

Eight players in each tournament have gone through the excruciating qualification process to earn a chance at becoming a challenger for the world championship title and facing World Champion Ding Liren and Women’s World Champion Ju Wenjun at the end of this year. In addition to the coveted first place, players will compete for a share of the prize funds of €500,000 in the Candidates Tournament and €250,000 in the Women’s Candidates Tournament.

The lineups pique curiosity as several young talents enter the late stages of the world championship cycle for the first time. We are witnessing another generational shift in chess, and the only question that remains is whether the youngsters will make their mark this year or conquer the chess world in subsequent cycles.

FIDE Candidates Tournament Participants:

  • Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE, 2758) – qualified as the previous World Championship match runner-up.
  • Praggnanandhaa R (India, 2747) – qualified as the 2023 World Cup runner-up.
  • Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2804) – qualified as the third-place finisher at the 2023 World Cup.
  • Nijat Abasov (Azerbaijan, 2632) – qualified as the fourth-place finisher at the 2023 World Cup after the winner, Magnus Carlsen, declined his right to participate.
  • Vidit Gujrathi (India, 2747) – qualified as the 2023 Grand Swiss winner.
  • Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2789) – qualified as the 2023 Grand Swiss runner-up.
  • Alireza Firouzja (France, 2760) – qualified as the best by rating on January 1, 2024.
  • Gukesh D (India, 2747) – qualified as the 2023 FIDE Circuit winner.

FIDE Women’s Candidates Tournament Participants:

  • Lei Tingjie (China, 2550) – qualified as the previous World Championship match runner-up.
  • Kateryna Lagno (FIDE, 2542) – qualified as the 2022−23 Women’s Grand Prix winner.
  • Aleksandra Goryachkina (FIDE, 2553) – qualified as the 2022−23 Women’s Grand Prix runner-up.
  • Nurgyul Salimova (Bulgaria, 2426) – qualified as the 2023 Women’s World Cup runner-up.
  • Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2520) – qualified as the third-place finisher at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
  • Vaishali R (India, 2481) – qualified as the 2023 Women’s Grand Swiss winner.
  • Tan Zhongyi (China, 2521) – qualified as the 2023 Women’s Grand Swiss runner-up.
  • Humpy Koneru (India, 2546) – qualified as the best by rating on January 1, 2024. The rating spot became available as a replacement for the Women’s World Cup winner, since Goryachkina had already qualified through the WGP.

As Ian Nepomniachtchi attempts to win his third consecutive Candidates Tournament, setting an unprecedented record, for youngsters like Praggnanandhaa (18) and Gukesh (17), as well as Vidit and Abasov, both in their late twenties, this will be their first Candidates event. Firouzja, the former world’s #2, despite being only 20 years old, already has one Candidates Tournament experience. Seasoned players Caruana (world’s #2) and Nakamura (world’s #3) are certainly two of the main favorites. For the first time, both do not need to cross the Atlantic to participate in the event, but instead, they can enjoy the home turf advantage.

The women’s event marks the third Women’s Candidates since FIDE reformed the women’s world championship cycle in 2019. The fourth-highest-rated woman in chess history and the rating favorite of the tournament, Aleksandra Goryachkina, has already been a challenger for the World Championship in 2020. By the starting ranks, her closest rival seems to be Lei Tingjie, who lost the world championship match a year earlier. The two are currently rated world’s #3 and #4, closely followed by Koneru (#4) and Lagno (#5), the other two rating favorites of the tournament. Many sympathies will be with 22-year-old Vaishali R, the sister of Praggnanandhaa R. For both, this is their debut at the Candidates, marking the first time in history that a brother and sister participate in the final stage of the chess world championship qualification.

Both events are double round-robin, meaning that each player will face seven of their rivals twice, once with white and once with black pieces. Fourteen rounds of the tournament will be played over three weeks, with four rest days. The first rest day, on April 8, will allow the participants and guests to witness the total solar eclipse, which will be visible across Toronto between 2:04 p.m. and 4:31 p.m., with the peak occurring at 3:19 p.m.

FIDE and the Local Organizing Committee are committed to creating an unforgettable chess festival for enthusiasts from Toronto and beyond. Local chess clubs are preparing an extensive list of side events and activities, such as the Chess Olympiad torch relay, blitz and rapid tournaments, watch parties, chess documentary screenings, lectures, and masterclasses. Access to the main event, the venue of the Candidates Tournament, is by ticket. The most popular dates and times are already sold out. Local favorites GMs Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton will host the fan zone situated at the tournament venue. The online broadcast of the event will, as usual, attract millions of views. The official FIDE show will feature GM Viswanathan Anand and GM Irina Krush as commentators.

Shockingly, all this was on the verge of not happening due to the wait times for the players’ visas. On March 1, just a month before the tournament, FIDE issued a plea on social media, asking for the Canadian Government’s support in resolving an issue with visa application approvals. At that moment, most of the players, who had submitted their applications months earlier, had not received any updates on their status. Behind the scenes, FIDE, the Chess Federation of Canada, and the Local Organizing Committee were pulling out all the stops to make progress on this vital issue. The whole of Canada was set in motion. It was an incredible effort by multiple people who all came together to save the Candidates Tournament in Toronto, and, combined with significant media attention, it generated a positive response from the authorities. One after another, participants began to have their visas approved. The good news came day by day, and by the end of the week following the public outcry, all applications were approved. In a social media message, FIDE thanked the Canadian government, the Minister of Immigration, MPs, the Canadian Chess Federation, the media, and the global chess community for their incredible support.

The opening ceremony will take place on the evening of April 3. Both tournaments will be set in motion on April 4 at 14:30 local time with the first round. The pairings, as per the regulations of this prestigious event, were made a month prior to the start. In the first round, we will witness the following matchups:

Candidates Tournament:

Fabiano Caruana vs. Hikaru Nakamura
Nijat Abasov vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi
Alireza Firouzja vs. Praggnanandhaa R
Gukesh D vs. Vidit Gujrathi

Women’s Candidates Tournament:

Aleksandra Goryachkina vs. Kateryna Lagno
Anna Muzychuk vs. Nurgyul Salimova
Lei Tingjie vs. Tan Zhongyi
Vaishali R vs. Humpy Koneru

Official website:

Written by WGM Anna Burtasova