Ding Liren confirmed to play in the Candidates

by André Schulz
5/18/2022 – As expected, Ding Liren is the eighth participant in the Candidates Tournament 2022. The Chinese top GM replaces the suspended Sergey Karjakin as the highest-rated player after World Champion Carlsen. The Candidates Tournament begins on 17 June in Madrid and the winner will play Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship.

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The Candidates Tournament begins in Madrid on 17 June, at the magnificent Palacio Santona, home of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce.

Eight players have qualified in different ways for the tournament. Ian Nepomniachtchi takes part as the player who lost in the last World Championship match. Alireza Firouzja and Fabiano Caruana qualified in the Grand Swiss tournament, Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport in the Grand Prix series. Teimour Radjabov received a wildcard to compensate for the circumstances of his non-participation in the 2019-21 Candidates Tournament, while Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Sergey Karjakin qualified in the World Cup.

However, Sergey Karjakin (and Sergei Shipov) were banned for six months for violating the FIDE Code of Ethics. Karjakin had cheered Russia's attack against Ukraine on social media. The FIDE Ethics Committee's ruling has since been upheld following an appeal by Karjakin.

Karjakin will be replaced by Ding Liren, who is the highest-rated player in the world rankings after World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Ding achieved the required number of games in several training tournaments and competitions he played in China last month.

During his World Championship match against Nepomniachtchi, at the end of 2021, Magnus Carlsen had already hinted that he might not want to defend his title in a World Championship match again. After Carlsen's World Championship match against Fabiano Caruana in London in 2018 he had expressed similar feelings.

The exhausting World Championship matches are not what Carlsen really enjoys in chess. They require long and hard preparation and basically Carlsen can only lose in them.

If the original field of the Candidates had remained, it would have included Nepomniachtchi, Caruana and Karjakin, three players against whom Carlsen has already played World Championship matches. Though Karjakin no longer starts in the Candidates, there is a certain chance that Nepomniachtchi or Caruana will win the Candidates, and Carlsen would then have to play again against a player against whom he has already defended his title.

One can understand that the World Champion feels a certain fatigue in view of playing his sixth World Championship match in ten years. However, should a player of the younger generation qualify as a challenger, it's more likely that Carlsen will be more motivated to defend his title, especially if Alireza Firouzja is the challenger. But one can also imagine appealing matches with other challengers.

Schedule

Seeding list (after drawing of lots)

1 GM Duda, Jan–Krzysztof
2 GM Ding Liren
3 GM Caruana, Fabiano
4 GM Radjabov, Teimour
5 GM Firouzja, Alireza
6 GM Nakamura, Hikaru
7 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian
8 GM Rapport, Richard

Format & System:

The 8 players play a double round robin tournament (14 rounds). The winner qualifies for the FIDE World Championship match 2023.

Pairings

Round 1, June 17

Duda – Rapport
Ding Liren – Nepomniachtchi
Caruana – Nakamura
Radjabov – Firouzja

Round 2, June 18 

Rapport – Firouzja
Nakamura – Radjabov
Nepomniachtchi – Caruana
Duda – Ding Liren

Round 3, June 19

Ding Liren – Rapport
Caruana – Duda
Radjabov – Nepomniachtchi
Firouzja – Nakamura

Round 4, June 21

Rapport – Nakamura
Nepomniachtchi – Firouzja
Duda – Radjabov
Ding Liren – Caruana

Round 5, June 22

Caruana – Rapport
Radjabov – Ding Liren
Firouzja – Duda
Nakamura – Nepomniachtchi

Round 6, June 23

Radjabov – Rapport
Firouzja – Caruana
Nakamura – Ding Liren
Nepomniachtchi – Duda

Round 7, June 25

Rapport – Nepomniachtchi
Duda – Nakamura
Ding Liren – Firouzja
Caruana – Radjabov

Round 8, June 26

Rapport – Duda
Nepomniachtchi – Ding Liren
Nakamura – Caruana
Firouzja – Radjabov

Round 9, June 27

Firouzja – Rapport
Radjabov – Nakamura
Caruana – Nepomniachtchi
Ding Liren – Duda

Round 10, June 29

Rapport, Richard – Ding Liren
Duda – Caruana
Nepomniachtchi – Radjabov
Nakamura – Firouzja

Round 11, June 30

Nakamura – Rapport
Firouzja – Nepomniachtchi
Radjabov – Duda
Caruana – Ding Liren

Round 12, July 1

Rapport – Caruana
Ding Liren – Radjabov
Duda – Firouzja
Nepomniachtchi – Nakamura

Round 13, July 3

Nepomniachtchi – Rapport
Nakamura – Duda
Firouzja – Ding Liren
Radjabov – Caruana

Round 14, July 4

Rapport – Radjabov
Caruana – Firouzja
Ding Liren – Nakamura
Duda – Nepomniachtchi

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.