Get ready for the start of the Candidates 2020

by André Schulz
3/16/2020 – The candidate tournament in Yekaterinburg is a major highlight in the eventful chess year 2020 and one of the few current events that has (so far) not been heavily affected by the Coronavirus epidemic. The opening is on Monday and the first of fourteen rounds follows on Tuesday. The winner will play Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship at the end of the year. | Photos: FIDE

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The wait is almost over...

In a matter of hours, the 2020 candidate tournament will start in Yekaterinburg, a chess jewel in troubled times. The COVID-19 epidemic dominates the news and has already proved a disruptive force in the chess world as in other areas of society.

Ding Liren and Wang Hao are two Chinese participants — the virus has its origins in China but of course is now a global crisis. Ding Liren arrived with his team 14 days beforehand and was in quarantine. Wang Hao has been spending the past couple of months in Japan.

Teimour Radjabov was evidently unsatisfied with FIDE's health and safety precautions for the tournament and withdrew ten days ago. He had proposed a postponement, but FIDE rejected the idea. That opened the door for a last minute addition of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the first reserve player.

The consequences around and because of the Corona virus for the participants were not finished, however. Fabiano Caruana found that his booked flight to Russia was cancelled — without being informed.

Fortunately he was promptly able to make other arrangements and arrived safely.

Further surprises must be expected.

The FIDE 2020 Candidates Tournament will officially open on Monday, March 16th. The eight players contest play a double round tournament (14 rounds) in round-robin (all-play-all) format, between March 17th and April 3rd. The winner will challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a title fight in late 2020, probably on or about December 20th in Dubai.

The participants of the candidates tournament are: 

  1. Fabiano Caruana (USA)
  2. Ding Liren (China)
  3. Wang Hao (China)
  4. Alexander Grischuk (Russia)
  5. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
  6. Kirill Alekseenko (Russia)
  7. Anish Giri (Netherlands)
  8. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France)

FIDE's teaser video

The details

The official opening of the tournament will take place on March 16th at 7:00 p.m local time. in the Congress Center — Yekaterinburg Expo. Before this, a press conference will take place on the same day at 1 p.m. in the house of the Sverdlovsk Journalists' Association.

The games will be played from March 17th to April 3rd at the Hotel Hyatt Regency (address: 8, Borisa-Yeltsin Street).


With the exception of the last round, all rounds start at 16:00 local time (11:00 UTC / 12:00 Noon CET / 7:00 EDT). The last round on April 3rd starts an hour earlier. 

You can find round-by round pairings in the game viewer below:


Also available via

Game days: March 17-19; 21-23; 25-27; 29-31 and April 2-3.
Rest days are thus March 20, 24, 28 and April 1.

The prize fund is €500,000 euros.

Live comments

FIDE offers live commentary in English, Russian and Chinese on its tournament page. Here on the ChessBase news site and in the Playchess server there will also be a German-language live commentary (Klaus Bischoff & Co.).

Side events

On March 16th there will be the 'Karpov Blitz Cup', then the Russian rapid chess cup for boys and girls in the categories U-9, U-11, U-13 and U-15.

On March 17th and 18th, the trophy of the governor of the Sverdlovsk region, Evgeny Kuyvashev, will be held.

An exhibition with stamps from the collection of 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov and a presentation of exhibits from the Chess Museum of the Russian Chess Federation are also planned.

Health and safety

The following health and safety measures apply:

  1. A checkpoint with a trained nurse will be set up for all participants in the tournament, as well as for officials and visitors in the auditorium. At this point, visitors are screened for symptoms of Covid-19 before entering the game room, including checking their body temperature.
  2. Hand disinfectants containing alcohol will be available at all times.
  3. N95 face masks will always be available in the required amount. Depending on the assessment of the situation, wearing masks can become mandatory for visitors in the auditorium.
  4. Shaking hands before and after the game is not required.
  5. Spectators who come to the venue have no access to the gaming area.
  6. Preventive measures (masks, disinfectants) must also be taken in all hotel rooms in which participants and officials are staying, as well as in all vehicles used for the tournament.

Other preventive measures may be taken as needed.


Camera teams and photographers may stay in the playing hall for the first five minutes of each round. The duration of the stay of the photographers and camera teams in the hall are subject to the FIDE regulations and the decisions of the chief referee.

All media organizations have free access to the official FIDE photos for the duration of the event.


The organizers of the 2020 Candidates Tournament are

  • the International Chess Federation (FIDE),
  • the Chess Federation of Russia (CFR),
  • the Government of the Sverdlovsk Region and
  • the Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Region.

Partners of the tournament

  • Sima Land - the title sponsor of the FIDE candidate
  • Algorand - official blockchain partner
  • Kaspersky - official cybersecurity partner
  • PJSC PhosAgro - general partner of CFR
  • Pine Creek Golf Resort and
  • SILA International Lawyers


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


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