World Chess Championship 2021: Carlsen vs The Challenger
Magnus Carlsen will defend his world chess championship title against the challenger in 2021.

World Chess Championship 2021: Carlsen vs The Challenger‎

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The 2020 World Chess Championship match has been postponed until 2021. It will be played between reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen and a challenger, coming from the 2020 Candidates Tournament. Unfortunately, the second half of the Candidates Tournament was postponed on March 26, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's travel restrictions. FIDE still plans to complete the Candidates Tournament this year.

In this article, you will find all of the information that is known so far.

How To Watch On

A special page will be created on where you'll be able to follow the live moves with computer analysis, live chat, and video commentary by (grand)masters and special guests.

Daily news recaps will be posted on the news pages with an in-depth grandmaster analysis of the games. Further recap videos will be published on YouTube with more GM analysis.

On Facebook and Twitter, we will provide the latest news, photos, rumors, and more from the world championship.


One player is known already. Magnus Carlsen (Norway) is the reigning world champion, who will be defending his title. He is 29 years old and has held the title since 2013 when he defeated then world champion GM Viswanathan Anand of India.

Carlsen is known as one of the biggest chess talents that ever lived. He became a grandmaster at the age of 13 years, 4 months, and 27 days. He has won numerous tournaments and has been the world number one player continuously since 2011.

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen's challenger will be the winner of the 2020 Candidates Tournament, originally scheduled for March 11-April 5, 2020 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. As mentioned, the Candidates Tournament was postponed after seven rounds. At the halfway point, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Ian Nepomniachtchi are leading the event with 4.5/7. Here are the current standings:

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score SB
1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2767 2876 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7 15.25
2 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2774 2875 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7 14.25
3 Caruana, Fabiano 2842 2764 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 3.5/7 12.25
4-5 Giri, Anish 2763 2775 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/7 11.25
4-5 Wang Hao 2762 2775 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/7 11.25
6 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 2773 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 12.25
7 Ding Liren 2805 2667 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/7 8.25
8 Alekseenko, Kirill 2698 2683 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7 9.25

(Tiebreaks: 1. Mutual score, 2. Number of wins, 3. Sonneborn-Berger.)

Fabiano Caruana (27)

Fabiano Caruana (2842, USA) qualified as the runner-up in the 2018 World Championship. He won the Candidates Tournament in 2018 and eventually lost to Carlsen in the title match. Caruana came second in the 2016 Candidates Tournament behind Sergey Karjakin.

Ding Liren (27)

Ding Liren (2805, China) qualified as the runner-up in the 2019 FIDE World Cup. This is his second time he will play a Candidates Tournament; in 2018, the Chinese GM came fourth with 13 draws and one win.

Alexander Grischuk (36)

Alexander Grischuk (2777, Russia) qualified as the winner of the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix. He played Candidates Matches in both 2007 and 2011. In both the 2013 and 2018 tournaments, he tied for fifth place with 6.5/14.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (29)

Ian Nepomniachtchi (2774, Russia) qualified as the runner-up of the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix. He is playing his first Candidates Tournament.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (29)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2767, France) is a replacement for Teimour Radjabov, who withdrew from the tournament after his request to postpone the tournament due to the coronavirus was not granted. MVL is playing his first Candidates Tournament.

Anish Giri (25)

Anish Giri (2763, Netherlands) qualified as the player with the highest average rating for 12 rating periods from February 2019 to January 2020. It's the second Candidates Tournament for the Dutchman; he tied for fourth place in 2016 with 14 draws.

Wang Hao (30)

Wang Hao (2758, China) qualified as the winner of the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss. He is playing his first Candidates Tournament.

Kirill Alekseenko (22)

Kirill Alekseenko (2704, Russia) is the wildcard. He was eligible to be selected as a wildcard due to placing third in the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss. He is playing his first Candidates Tournament.

The regulations state that if the world champion or the challenger withdraws from the 2020 title match, he will be replaced by the runner-up of the Candidates' tournament. If any further replacement is needed, the average rating from the 12 FIDE standard (classical) rating lists from August 2019 to July 2020 is used, and the player with the highest average rating qualifies.

Dates And Location

The match was supposed to start on December 20, 2020, in Dubai, UAE. However, the 2020 World Championship match has been postponed until 2021. The match was originally planned to be held alongside the Dubai Expo, which has also been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. We will provide more information when available.

Prize Fund

The regulations state that FIDE "recommends" a prize fund provided by the organizer of two million euros net of any applicable local taxes. 

The winner will earn 60 percent of the prize fund, and 40 percent will go to the runner-up. If the match ends in a tie after 14 games and a tiebreak will decide matters, the winner receives 55 percent and the runner-up 45 percent.

Before the start of the match, each player receives two hundred thousand euros as an upfront payment of his eventual prize money. If the match is played in the country of one of the players, then the foreign player receives one hundred thousand euros of the prize fund and the remaining prize money is shared as stated above.

Live Games will relay the games live on a special landing (to be announced) and provide a live video broadcast at, and where a team of (grand)masters will bring you the latest insights, instructive explanation of the moves, interviews, behind the scenes and more.

After each game, you will find detailed news reports by our authors @MikeKlein, @PeterDoggers and our photographer Maria Emelianova (@misslovalova).


The official regulations can be found in PDF here. These are most important things to know:

  • The match will be played over 14 standard games. When someone reaches 7.5 points, he wins.
  • At the opening ceremony, a drawing of colors determines who will start with the white pieces.
  • The time control 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.
  • If the scores are level after the regular 14 games, four tie-break games will be played. These are rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
  • If it's still equal, two blitz games will be played (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment). If it's still equal, a second pair of two blitz games will be played. If there is still no winner after five such matches, one sudden-death game will be played. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds starting from move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.
  • The players cannot draw a game by agreement before Black's 30th move. A claim for a
    draw before Black's 30th move is permitted only through one of the arbiters in
    the cases of a threefold repetition.

History Of WCC

The world championship of chess has a long tradition. The first official match was held in 1886 between Johannes Zukertort and Wilhelm Steinitz. The latter won and became the first official world chess champion in history. Emanuel Lasker (Germany), Jose Raul Capablanca (Cuba), Alexander Alekhine (Russia/France) and GM Max Euwe (Netherlands) subsequently took the titles by beating the reigning champions in a match.

Alekhine won back the title but due to his death in 1946, it became vacant. FIDE organized a tournament in 1948 which was won by GM Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union), who then lost his title but successfully won it back in matches against compatriots GM Vasily Smyslov and GM Mikhail Tal. After losing to GM Tigran Petrosian, Botvinnik lost the right for an automatic return match and stopped participating in the world championship cycle.

GM Boris Spassky defeated Petrosian, but with him the Soviet hegemony ended as GM Bobby Fischer (USA) famously won the Match of the Century in 1972 in Reykjavik.

Fischer world chess champion
Fischer with Euwe in 1972. Photo: Bert Verhoeff, Dutch National Archives, CC.

Because FIDE didn't accept all of Fischer's demands for a match with GM Anatoly Karpov in 1975, Fischer refused to play and forfeited his title. Karpov was declared world champion. The Russian GM remained world champion for 10 years, when he lost his second match to GM Garry Kasparov in 1985 after the first had been terminated a year earlier by FIDE when there was still no decision after 48(!) games.

Kasparov and Karpov 1985
Kasparov (left) shakes hands with Karpov (right) in 1985. Photo: Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency ©, CC.

Kasparov won three more matches with Karpov but then stepped away from FIDE and played three matches under the newly founded Professional Chess Association (PCA). He defeated GM Nigel Short and GM Viswanathan Anand but lost to GM Vladimir Kramnik in 2000, who thus is considered to be the 14th classical world champion.

Karpov, GM Alexander Khalifman, Anand, GM Ruslan Ponomariov, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov and GM Veselin Topalov won world titles in official FIDE events in the 1990s and 2000s, but these titles have been disputed because e.g. Kasparov and Kramnik did not participate, and they didn't follow the tradition of one-to-one matches.

Meanwhile, Kramnik defended his title in 2004 against GM Peter Leko and then won a "reunification match" against Topalov in 2006. Anand took over the title from Kramnik in a tournament in 2007 in Mexico, and subsequently defended it successfully in matches against Kramnik in 2008, Topalov in 2010 and GM Boris Gelfand in 2012.

GM Magnus Carlsen defeated Anand in 2013 in Chennai and successfully defended his title against the same opponent in 2014, against GM Sergey Karjakin in 2016 and against Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

Who will face Magnus in 2020?
Who will face Magnus Carlsen in the 2021 World Chess Championship? Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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