Finding a challenger
The FIDE Candidates Tournament is the ultimate qualifier for the FIDE World Championship. Eight prominent grandmasters will compete for a top spot in this double round-robin (all play all) event in Madrid, Spain, from 16 June to 5 July 2022. The first place is all that matters as the winner qualifies to face the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the match for the chess crown.
The tournament is played as a double round-robin (all play all twice) with 14 rounds. The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
The players cannot draw a game by agreement before Black’s 40th move. A claim for a draw before Black’s 40th move is permitted only in cases of a draw by threefold repetition or a stalemate. If there is a tie for first place after 14 rounds, a playoff to determine the winner shall be played.
The magnificent Palacio de Santoña, a centrally located historic building in Madrid, will be the venue of the most anticipated chess tournament in 2022. Built in 1730, this mansion boasts of distinguished carved granite baroque façade and is home to one of the most refined eclectic interiors in the Spanish capital. It is currently one of the headquarters of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce.
Ding Liren (by rating)
The strongest Chinese Grandmaster and one of only 14 players to ever pass the 2800 rating mark, Ding Liren joined the Candidates in the nick of time. The highest-rated player to replace Karjakin, he managed to fulfil the condition of playing 30 rated games in the last year just before the May 1 deadline.
Alireza Firouzja (Grand Swiss winner)
Iranian-born French prodigy Alireza Firouzja is the brightest star in the constellation of young chess talents. A Grandmaster at 14, the youngest player to cross 2800 and the world’s #2 at 18 – his confident Grand Swiss victory hardly came as a surprise. Carlsen himself hailed him as the next Challenger. Will Firouzja cope with the pressure of expectations?
Fabiano Caruana (Grand Swiss runner-up)
The Italian-American Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana is a regular on the top chess circuit and one of the most experienced contenders in Madrid. World’s #2 for the best part of the 2018-2021 period, he has a 2018 Candidates victory and a closely contested World Championship Match under his belt. The title match went down to the wire but Caruana lost the tiebreak.
Ian Nepomniachtchi (World Championship runner-up)
The triumphant early winner of the previous Candidates (2020-2021), Ian Nepomniachtchi lost the World Championship Match to Magnus Carlsen 3½-7½ in December 2021. Only Vasily Smyslov managed to win the Candidates Tournament twice in a row. Will ‘Nepo’ succeed in repeating Smyslov’s feat from 1956?
Richard Rapport (Grand Prix runner-up)
2022 ripens into a stellar year for Hungary’s youngest-ever Grandmaster (he earned the title at 13). First snatching a third-place finish in Wijk aan Zee, Richard Rapport then reached the semifinals in the first Grand Prix in Berlin and won the second leg in Belgrade to claim overall Series silver, qualifying for the Candidates and arriving at his peak rating.
Hikaru Nakamura (Grand Prix winner)
The world’s most famous chess streamer, known to 1.4 million Twitch followers as ‘GMHikaru’, came back from a 2-year break from classical chess with a blast indisputably winning the 2022 Grand Prix Series. He clinched the first event and reached the final in the third, leaving no doubts that his class of a long-time top-10 player hasn’t gone anywhere.
Teimour Radjabov (Wildcard)
2019 World Cup winner Teimour Radjabov pulled out of the 2020 Candidates Tournament amid pandemic worries. The tournament was notably postponed after the first half and resumed only a year later. Soon after it finished, FIDE President’s suggestion to grant Radjabov a 2022 wildcard was supported by FIDE Council members.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda (World Cup winner)
Polish prodigy Jan-Krzysztof Duda became a Grandmaster at 15. Now 23 and indisputably his country’s #1, he reinforced his status as one of the leaders of the young generation by winning the 2021 World Cup. He was unbeaten in 18 games against resilient opposition, including Carlsen whom he knocked out in the semis.
Schedule and pairings
The schedule includes four free days, one after every three rounds:
- June 16: Technical meeting and opening ceremony
- June 17-19: Rounds 1-3
- June 20: Rest day
- June 21-23: Rounds 4-6
- June 24: Rest day
- June 25-27: Rounds 7-9
- June 28: Rest day
- June 29 – July 1: Rounds 10-12
- July 2: Rest day
- July 3-4: Rounds 13-14
- July 5: Potential tiebreaks