FIDE resumes the Candidates Tournament

by ChessBase
2/15/2021 – The Candidates Tournament, the biennial 8-player event that decides who will be the Challenger for the World Chess Championship title, will resume on the 19th of April in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as announced by the International Chess Federation. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / FIDE

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Press release by FIDE

The Candidates Tournament, the biennial 8-player event that decides who will be the Challenger for the World Chess Championship title, will resume on the 19th of April in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

This double round-robin tournament kicked off on March 16, 2020. However, it had to be abruptly stopped 11 days later when the Russian government announced the closure of air traffic with other countries, amid a rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic.

The sudden crisis left hanging this prestigious event, one of the oldest traditions in the world of sports. Since half the rounds had already been played, this interruption created an unprecedented situation, as the regulations stipulate that the results obtained until that point must stand — rather than having the tournament re-started from scratch. When the tournament was interrupted, the French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi were in the lead, with 4½ points after seven games. Fabiano Caruana (USA), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Wang Hao (China) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia) are in the chasing pack, all with 3½ points.

After a long wait, the challenger to Magnus Carlsen’s throne will be finally known by the 28th of April.

This is the detailed schedule for the second half of the tournament, to which all players have agreed on and expressed their readiness to take part in:

  • 19th April 2021, Round 8
  • 20th April 2021, Round 9
  • 21st April 2021, Round 10
  • (22nd April 2021, rest day)
  • 23rd April 2021, Round 11
  • 24th April 2021, Round 12
  • (25th April 2021, rest day)
  • 26th April 2021, Round 13
  • 27th April 2021, Round 14
  • 28th April 2021, tie-breaks (if required)

The eyes of the entire chess world will be on this tournament, which is expected to receive massive coverage. The recent surge of interest towards chess and the special circumstances around the event guarantees the biggest number of spectators for any Candidates Tournament in chess history. 

Standings after Round 7


About the Candidates Tournament

The current format of the Candidates Tournament was established in 1950 as the best way to determine who should be the World Champion Challenger. Currently, it is fought under the format of a double round-robin tournament (14 rounds), with the eight best players on the planet- except the champion himself.

The selection process from which the World Chess Challenger emerges is probably one of the toughest of any sport. The scarcity of opportunities to ascend this summit makes any mistake more tragic, increasing the epic nature of the struggle.

About the World Chess Championship

The winner of the Candidates Tournament will be Carlsen's rival in the World Championship Match, a face-off between two contenders where they play to the best of 14 games. The 2021 World Championship match will take place 24 November – 16 December 2021 as one of the highlights of the Expo 2020 Dubai. The two players will compete for a prize fund of 2 million euros.

All games - Rounds 1 to 7



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Peter B Peter B 2/18/2021 11:43
Just as an aside, an interruption and resumption would have been much easier to handle if the Candidates was played as a series of matches. Ah, the good old days...
ChessSpawnVermont ChessSpawnVermont 2/17/2021 09:51
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 2/17/2021 07:30
The entire world is paying attention to chess now. How are they going to explain this fiasco? FIDE: "We were publicly warned that it may not be safe to hold the Candidates beforehand, but we didn't think coronavirus was a big deal so we replaced the protesting player and decided to hold the Candidates anyway, in Russia, a covid epicenter. We had a 1000 member audience to the press conference. But then it became apparent that covid-19 was serious because Russia closed air traffic, so we had to postpone the rest of the event. But chess must go on, so let's continue the Candidates before any player is eligible to be vaccinated and we hope that no one becomes seriously ill or succumbs."

One possibility is FIDE makes it a 9-player candidates and allows radjabov to catch up, then resume at the halfway point.

It's interesting to see what some top players have said. Kramnik said it's obvious that Radjabov should get a wildcard in the 2022 candidates. Carlsen said it's crazy for Radjabov to get a spot in the 2022 candidates and it would make more sense to include Radjabov in the current candidates. Giri, apparently defending the decision to start the candidates during the pandemic, said he felt safer at the tournament than on the plane back - which logically makes no sense because the players had to FLY to the tournament, and would have to FLY back! You can't play the Candidates without getting there.
Aighearach Aighearach 2/17/2021 12:07
The idea that it is the same tournament, merely "resumed," is absurd.
It is a new tournament, starting with handicaps.
And to people who say it doesn't matter what I think I ask you this: Does it matter more what you think?
If Carlsen agrees to the farce, then their gambit works. If he doesn't, it doesn't.
razzmonid razzmonid 2/17/2021 08:29
Yeah seems like we just need to watch this cycle and get on with it and wait for the next cycle once again. It doesn't matter anyway whatever we think, and so as whatever they do anyway. A lot has happened between the first part and the second and having the others be on the bottom part of the table doesn't do much for motivation. Hopefully, they got to play, or else this will drag on and on delaying the next cycle.
For all I know Radjabov would not get near this event anyway. It would be an effort for him to really commentate currently on this. As he knows the current level he is in, and he would be hold on by being polite on his words.
retspan retspan 2/17/2021 05:59
It doesn't matter if you think their decision is incorrect. The fact remains that when the tournament resumes later, and barring any issues with any of the players, those eight players will be fighting to get a crack at Carlsen's crown. And Radjabov will be free to talk on a wide range of subjects outside the tournament hall. Who knows, he may even be invited to the tournament as a commentator.
razzmonid razzmonid 2/17/2021 05:44
@fgkdjlkag concurring with you. At first, I got angry as to why Radjabov wouldn't play in the candidates. He is a strong player and this is also a rare chance that he could have an opportunity to become the classical chess challenger to the World Champion. But the more the events unfold, and the more I get info (like interviews with Radjabov) there more I agree and understand his decision to recommend the postponement and eventually deciding no to go and play in the candidates.
One should not be one-dimensional in looking at events. Reality is dynamic and there are things that are more understood in a broader context.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 2/17/2021 05:11
@retspan, the 8 players' decision was incorrect. There was a raging pandemic worldwide as well as in Russia; we know what happened to the first part of the Candidates. The international travel of the players was not only putting themselves, but others at risk. Radjabov seems to be the only professional chess-player who has any knowledge that extends beyond chess. His interviews after chess tournaments are wide-ranging while everyone else can only talk about chess.

@Raymond Labelle, the Sputnik vaccine is 2 doses. The players would have to arrive very early in Russia to get it, which does not seem likely. IMO they should delay the Candidates until all the players become country-eligible to be vaccinated.
razzmonid razzmonid 2/17/2021 02:56
@sebtak not sure if preparation is the culprit for MVL and Nepo bad plays. Giri and Caruana are still doing good. You put too much emphasis on their preparation not being shown, so why are they still playing chess at all if they don't want to show their preparation. Because it would not only made them lose the prize money, there would also an effect on their rapid/classical rating.

Rapid play vs classical chess is different, true. But MVL is 11-13th place in the classical chess in Tata 2021, so it still a comparative showing of his level in the different time control.
retspan retspan 2/17/2021 01:01
Radjabov may have been "correct all along," but all I'm seeing in the current crosstable are eight players who made the correct decision to play in the tournament.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 2/16/2021 06:27
To reassure the players, maybe the organisers will arrange for them to receive the Sputnik vaccine for having attained maximal immunity before the tournament (something like 14 days). Speculating. Another article on preventive measures would be interesting, but there is time left for that. And chessbase has probably thought about it.
sebtak sebtak 2/16/2021 02:57
@razzmonid, the fact he's been "correct" is largely irrelevant. Every other player was equally aware of the risks but decided on balance to play regardless: no risk no reward! Besides, my saying that Radjabov didn't want to play is not just based on his last minute call, but rather on what he had been saying all along since end of 2019, well before he was even aware that there was a pandemic (there was a piece on that in chessbase).

Regarding the second bit, I think you are underestimating one big factor: MVL, Nepo (and anyone else with a chance to win the candidates) are surely trying to avoid showing any piece of preparation at this stage (both for the second half of candidates and for the match against Carlsen). On the other hand, Radjabov and So can play whatever opening they want "weight" free, and that's not to belittle their strong performances in the recent rapid tournaments.
And of course, you're also comparing (short) rapid time controls to standard time control.
razzmonid razzmonid 2/16/2021 02:10
sebtak based on what he said regarding the Covid became true. He also displayed his stability and strong play lately, and based on the interview, he has every intention of playing in the candidates. He just said that there would be some delays and issues and that is what happened, so he has been correct all along.

I just feel that whoever is in the candidates' tournament has not shown strong plays lately. MVL was just defeated by Carlsen and Radjabov. Radjabov was very strong in their encounter. Based on what is happening lately, it would feel as though Magnus would not have a hard time to whoever would win in this tournament.
sebtak sebtak 2/16/2021 12:23
This is the real candidates! I for one would be very excited to see Maxime qualify. And for two reasons.
1) He plays exciting, dynamic chess, and the games will be both interesting and hard fought.
2) He's very good at rapid (~ 2860 just behind Magnus), which means Magnus can't afford the risk to hold 12 draws and expect a landslide victory in a 4 game rapid match, reinforcing 1)
Overall, MVL is a great candidate if we don't want yet another WC decided mostly by rapid chess.

Regarding Radjabov, can we drop it already? He had no intention from playing from the start and covid gave him an honorable way out. All the other players accepted the risk ...
Queenslander Queenslander 2/16/2021 11:36
Edit needed: The chasing pack are on 3.5 points (not 4.5). Thanks!
Daniel Quigley Daniel Quigley 2/16/2021 08:28
This is still a valid candidates tournament. All but one player remain in the world top 13.
razzmonid razzmonid 2/16/2021 01:49
Curiously, Teimour Radjabov who predicted such a thing looks very strong now. And Wesley So who is also not part of the Candidates is the one beating Magnus Carlsen in Matchplay.

Not sure if this is the real the candidates now. Not berating the field, but one is not as excited right now.