Qualification criteria for the Candidates announced, Radjabov gets a spot

by ChessBase
5/24/2021 – The International Chess Federation has published the qualification criteria that will be used to determine who participates in the next Candidates Tournament, scheduled to take place in 2022. Notably, Teimour Radjabov was granted a spot after the Azerbaijani withdrew from the previous edition, rightfully predicting that the sanitary crisis would become a real obstacle for the normal development of the event. FIDE has also eliminated the chance to qualify by rating. | Photo: FIDE

ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021 ChessBase 16 - Mega package Edition 2021

Your key to fresh ideas, precise analyses and targeted training!
Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


A shortened cycle

Ian NepomniachtchiThe 2020 Candidates Tournament was the last sporting event to be either postponed or cancelled after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite major efforts by FIDE to keep the tournament going, the event had to be stopped midway, with the second half starting over a year after the postponement.

About a month ago, Ian Nepomniachtchi won the event [pictured], becoming Magnus Carlsen’s challenger for the World Championship title. Once the event was over, FIDE announced that the next cycle will not be delayed, disclosing that they planned to organize the next Candidates Tournament in 2022. Today, they published the qualification criteria for the marquee event.

The most salient news is that Teimour Radjabov will be granted a spot. The Azerbaijani withdrew from the previous edition less than two weeks before the start of the event, claiming that he feared that a potential coronavirus infection might potentially disrupt the tournament — he requested that FIDE postpone the event and, once FIDE declined, he decided to withdraw.

Another notable modification is that there will not be a wildcard (unless we consider Radabov to be the wildcard?) nor a rating qualifier. As stated by FIDE, the goal is “to devise a democratic qualification system, where every reasonably strong player is given a chance to qualify”.

Press release by FIDE

The International Chess Federation has approved the qualification criteria to select the eight players who will participate in the Candidates Tournament 2022. Like in the previous cycle, the goal has been to devise a democratic qualification system, where every reasonably strong player is given a chance to qualify.

These are the different qualifying events and criteria:

A) One spot – FIDE World Championship Match 2021, Runner-up

As tradition goes, one spot will go directly to the runner-up at the FIDE World Championship Match, to be played in Dubai (UAE) in November-December 2021.

B) One spot – GM Teimour Radjabov (winner of the FIDE World Cup 2019)

One place will be reserved for Teimour Radjabov, the winner of the FIDE World Cup 2019. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich mentioned that this was his intention in a recent interview. The FIDE Council members fully supported his position, so we are happy to confirm that Teimour will be granted this possibility.

C) Two spots – FIDE World Cup 2021

Two spots will be decided at the FIDE World Cup 2021, to be played in Sochi (Russia), in July-August 2021. The two finalists in this event will earn their tickets to the Candidates 2022.

It may happen that Teimour Radjabov or any of the two contenders in the 2021 match (Magnus Carlsen or Ian Nepomniachtchi) are in the final. In this case, the place will be passed on to the next non-qualified player in the FIDE World Cup (but not further than 4th place) or to the next non-qualified player in the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022.

D) Two spots – FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2021

Two places will be at stake in the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Tournament 2021, to be held in October-November 2021 in Douglas (Isle of Man). The two top-finishers in this 114-player event, which is expected to be the strongest Swiss event ever held, will advance to the next stage of the world championship cycle 2021-2022.

If any of these two players happen to be already qualified through events A, B or C, the spot will go to the next non-qualifying player in the standings of the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss Tournament 2021.

E) Two spots – FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022

The remaining two spots will be granted to the two top-finishers at the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022, which will take place between February and April 2022. The Regulations for the Series will be published in June.

We must note that the winner of the FIDE World Championship Match 2021 is not allowed to participate in Grand Prix Series. Likewise, none of the players already qualified via events A, B, C or D, is expected to take part in the Grand Prix. If any of them decides to participate, they should give up their qualification spot previously earned.

In the eventuality of any schedule modification caused by the pandemic or any other force majeure circumstances, the FIDE Council is entitled to adjust the qualification criteria accordingly.


Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

PCMorphy72 PCMorphy72 6/2/2021 08:09
So the FIDE stated that the goal is “to devise a democratic qualification system".
Curiously, several years ago I "published" my ideas on a system based on "democracy": let’s try googling “Democratic WCC”…
Actually, it introduced several pdf pages with "systems" which were way too complicated (for today standards), but at least I got a "thank you" from a FIDE chief...
I tried to promote those ideas in many ways, but I was obsessed with extremely fair tie-breaks, using all the scientific approaches around the Sonnebor-Berger and other systems. Still, nobody consider e.g. the Koya system, but at least FIDE is starting some "Swiss democracy" in their cycles. I will have the time to sketch some simpler version of those ideas...
Arminio12 Arminio12 6/1/2021 07:13
It is a silly discussion, indeed. Nevertheless, saying there will be no more wild cards - which I think many people will applaud - and then giving one to Radjabov is quite contradictory. Also, he gets it because he sort of "deserves" it, given the circumstances and all that. Well, deserving is not the issue. Radjabov earned his ticket last time, but gave it up. He did not earn it this time. That's all there is to it. Giving him one now is an arbitrary decision, based on some very subjective reasoning. There are plenty of other players that "deserve" such a ticket but won't get it. There is nothing "right" in that.
Pemoe6 Pemoe6 6/1/2021 06:14
I don't see the point of this discussion. (In this very special situation) it is simply done like in correspondence chess: You qualify for an event (world championship final, for instance) and afterwards it will be defined for which one (this or next). In my opinion FIDE simply has shown tact to overcome a critical situation. There is a wild card usually - Radja takes it this time. So what?
RajSatyam RajSatyam 6/1/2021 06:36
@Arminio12 Tata Steel was organized with full safety.
In the same way, FIDE should have assured Radja
and other players that it was their problem to ensure full safety and safe way back to their Home (via any means). Even if one player had concerns, FIDE should have guaranteed him and must have told all about the safety measures be taken. Players from China (origin of the pandemic) were there and it was not wrong to be afraid of, even if it was only one player's concern. FIDE wouldn't have retained Radja at any cost if anyhow they would have organised the whole Candidates in the first go. Later, the way situations took place, it isn't wrong to say that, Radja saw things much earlier what the FIDE couldn't. They were wrong to organise the tournament last year. It wasn't necessary for Radja to raise voice, FIDE should have thought of the whole situation, and the situation was really critical. So, it's not wrong to retain Radja..he deserved it.
Arminio12 Arminio12 5/30/2021 03:06
@ fgkdjlkag: Clearly you don’t (want to) understand. I never said that the majority is always right, just that if you’re alone to oppose the decisions it will be hard to convince the organisation that you’re right and everyone else is wrong. Comparing apples and oranges like you do is not going to change that. Seriously, is it “a chess position” (etc.) we are talking about here?
As to “obviously wrong” or likewise “right”. I think FIDE was perfectly entitled to make a decision about whether or not to proceed with the tournament. Of course Radjabov could ask them anything, but it was not for him to decide what they should do. Also, he wanted the tournament to be postponed for safety reasons (someone could catch the virus, Wang would fly in from Japan and not undergo quarantine, etc.). You may recall that nothing of the sort happened, but the tournament was interrupted because Russia was closing its airspace. Despite his apologetic “told you so”-narrative afterwards it was not exactly what he had predicted. If Russia had waited another week or so, the tournament would have finished normally. Perhaps you should also ask yourself why other events are taking place despite lockdowns and safety measures. Tata Steel 2021? Champions League? Australian Open? Olympic Games? Eurovision Song Contest? All as wrong, of course, as FIDE …
PS “… a plethora more reasons …”? Dream on.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 5/28/2021 05:50
@Armini012, if 8 people are looking at a chess position and 7 say that black is winning, but 1 correctly spots a forced mate in 5 for white, would you say that black is winning?
Would the 7 people have "a much stronger case" if they had all come out and said that black is winning? Would it convince you that black is in fact better even when you know that white has a mate in 5?

Let's say there is an ongoing chess tournament, and 7 players raise a dispute with the arbiter regarding the conditions. 1 player takes the opposing side. The official FIDE rules are consulted and the 1 player is correct. Should the arbiter side with the 7 players? Should the arbiter side with the 1 player who is correct regarding the rules?

What if only 1 player raised a dispute about the rules, and the FIDE handbook shows he is wrong? Should the arbiter "jump to serve the fellow hand and foot"?

Obviously what should be done depends on what is correct, not who comes up with a complaint or how many ppl agree or disagree.

FIDE was obviously wrong initially in its organization of the Candidates tournament and you have just given a plethora more reasons why it was wrong, so you clearly agree with me and I do not understand what you mean by it is "not as obvious" as I would have it. I did not opine below on Radjabov's entry into the next Candidates, only on your statement "Apparently FIDE now feels that they were wrong at the time and that Radjabov was right", as it is obvious that Radjabov was right and FIDE was wrong.
Arminio12 Arminio12 5/26/2021 08:28
@ fgkdjlkag: You may think that FIDE was wrong, but that is not as obvious as you would have it. But even so, it is no reason for being wrong again. They are not making things right by rewarding one player and disregarding the rest. What compensation do the other players get, who might have got a different result with Radjabov instead of Vachier-Lagrave, be it better or worse? Cancel the “wrong” tournament, then, and organise the “right” one, with the eight players who had earned their spot in the first place and prepared for one another. By the way, the opportunity Radjabov missed can never be undone by a new one later: if it is a disaster, he can always blame the missed tournament, if it is a sucess, he might never have had it if things had gone the way he had wanted in the first place. There is no “right” in that. One thing is certain, though: he is now getting a spot he hasn’t earned and possibly taking the place of someone who would. Perhaps that person should get a free spot in the tournament following the next one?
Second point. It is not a question of a majority “always being right”. Radjabov was the only one to protest and to demand FIDE should do as he wished, regardless of what the others might have to say. He would have had a much stronger case if others had come out too. But they didn’t. Are you implying FIDE should jump to serve the fellow hand and foot every time one and only one player has a problem with what they decide? I think not. For what it’s worth: last year when the question popped up, Magnus Carlsen strongly rejected this solution and called it “ridiculous”. He is also just one player, and we don’t need to take into account what others might have to say, so why doesn’t FIDE give him what he wants?
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 5/26/2021 05:37
@Arminio12, obviously FIDE was wrong. Do you think it was proper to start the Candidates, stop it, and then resume it a year later? Why were there 1000 ppl at the opening ceremony not socially distancing? Besides all that, I believe there was a prohibition on sporting events in Russia that was initiated before the Candidates began.

What do you mean by "he was the only one to object and withdraw", are you trying to imply that the majority is always right? Clearly Radjabov was right and the other 7 were wrong. They were putting others at risk through their international travel.
Arminio12 Arminio12 5/26/2021 01:49
It is a bad decision. Radjabov withdrew from the tournament because FIDE didn’t want to postpone it. Well, it was not for Radjabov to decide what FIDE should or should not do, and apart from that he also was the only one to object and withdraw. One should live with the consequences of one’s decisions. Apparently FIDE now feels that they were wrong at the time and that Radjabov was right and therefore, that he should somehow be compensated. That’s rather contradictory, in my opinion. I can’t help but speculate, however, that all this is an arragement between FIDE and Radjabov to avoid his taking legal action. By the way, whether or not he “deserves” his spot in the Candidates is not the issue. He earned it last time and gave it up. That does not imply he earned it this time. No matter how good a player he is.
Lyricist Lyricist 5/26/2021 09:07
Radjabov played it safe. I do not blame him. I blame FIDE for rewarding Radjabov for not showing up. Would you blame an actor for refusing to play in a theater in front of the very limited audience during the covid crises? No. Would you reward such an actor for refusing to play? No.
Green22 Green22 5/26/2021 01:54
@Lyricist - are you high buddy?? did you not recall there was a devastating pandemic going on world wide?? you sound like the whinny little brat.

It's not like he didn't want to participate because of some weird, personal request etc etc.. get a clue!
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 5/26/2021 12:52
The Grand Swiss should not be a Swiss. It was the Isle of Man tourney a few yrs ago that famously used random pairings in the first round and there was the fighting Caruana-Kramnik game. By using a Swiss, we know none of the top players will face each other until the last rounds, and all the players by then know what score they need. Rather use random pairings by score group from the beginning. No players get special treatment from the beginning and have to prove themselves, plus fighting games among top players from the very first round, when it's not known what score is needed, so a player who is playing black is not going to go for a draw with some Berlin in round 1, which they might do at the end of the event.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 5/25/2021 01:07
Radjabov's refusal to play in the previous candidates turned out to be a justified, normal decisions. People should not have to risk their lives or safety in order to participate at an event. It's a good recompense that he will qualify.
daftarche daftarche 5/25/2021 12:48
I love the fact there is no wild card and rating qualification. Let the players fight in the cycle and qualify. The only thing I am not a big fan of is choosing players based on a swiss tournament.
Denix Denix 5/25/2021 12:16
Good Luck!
Lyricist Lyricist 5/25/2021 10:09
Radjabov shouldn't get the spot spot in 2022 Candidates. His refusal to play in 2020 doesn't entitle him to have this spot. He should face consequences of his actions. Spoiled children are treated in this way.
Gerald C Gerald C 5/25/2021 07:42
So T. Radjabov got a wildcard !
Peter B Peter B 5/25/2021 05:53
Good to see no wildcard! I'm not sure of the Grand Swiss though. Last Candidates it provided the two bottom finishers in the Candidates, and both benefitted from an overzealous opponent in the 2nd last round of the Grand Swiss. Still, let's give it one more chance.
mosherachmuth mosherachmuth 5/25/2021 05:49
I like these decisions. It is fair that Radjabov gets another chance. The other paths are also well balanced.