International Chess Federation
Friday, 19 Apr 2024 17:48
Toronto exhibition celebrates rich history of Candidates Tournaments

The FIDE Candidates Tournaments and the Women's Candidates Tournaments, currently underway in Toronto, feature an array of exciting activities and side events. One of them is an exhibition in the fan zone presenting the history of Candidates Tournaments.

The Candidates Tournament, the final test that a player must pass to challenge the World Champion in chess, has a rich history dating back to 1950.

This event emerged as a response to the need for a systematic approach to determine a world championship challenger. Prior to 1950, contenders had to navigate a maze of negotiations directly with the champion, secure funding, and organize a match - a process that lacked structure and consistency.

The turning point came in 1950 when Budapest hosted the inaugural Candidates Tournament, a 10-player double round-robin to select the Challenger for the then World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. This tradition, set in Budapest, continued almost every third year until 1993, alternating between tournaments and matches. However, the early 1990s saw a disruption due to the split in the world championship structure.

The Candidates Tournament returned to prominence in 2007 as part of the unified cycle, initially in the form of matches. The modern-day era has witnessed notable tournaments in London 2013, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014, Moscow 2016, Berlin 2018, Yekaterinburg 2020-21 and Madrid in 2022, each contributing to the glorious history of the championship qualification process. Toronto, the first such event in North America that combined both open and women’s competitions, is the next chapter in this great story of chess.

“The exhibition is designed to show people how players qualified for World Championship matches under the aegis of FIDE. It is very special because FIDE is celebrating its centenary anniversary this year… After Alekhine’s untimely death, FIDE’s primary goal was to create a democratic system to determine the World Champion. Botvinnik won the crown in the 1948 match tournament, and since then, the Candidates Tournament has been the main path for a challenger to qualify for a title match,” he said.

Visitors to the exhibition are in for a treat. They will have the rare opportunity to see unique pictures of all Candidates Tournaments, a visual journey through the history of chess. This is a chance to not just learn about the tournaments, but to truly sense the spirit of this unique competition.