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FIDE World Chess Championship 2023: Everything We Know So Far

FIDE World Chess Championship 2023: Everything We Know So Far

PedroPinhata
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The 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship is poised to be the most exciting yet. GM Magnus Carlsen could win his sixth title, joining the ranks of other legendary players with the most world championship titles—Emanuel Lasker, GM Anatoly Karpov, and GM Garry Kasparov.

On top of that, the world could see the epic battle between the world's best chess player and the world's best chess streamer, GM Hikaru Nakamura. Another possibility that chess fans could witness would be the thrilling clash of generations between Carlsen and the prodigy GM Alireza Firouzja.

Although we don't know all of the details of the next world championship match, we do know one thing—there's a lot to look forward to. Here's what we know about the 2023 WCC so far:


Players

The 2023 World Chess Championship match will be between current World Champion Magnus Carlsen and the winner of the 2022 Candidates Tournament—at least on paper.

After successfully defending his title for the fifth time, Carlsen said that he would only play another world championship match if his opponent was the young prodigy GM Alireza Firouzja. While many believe that Carlsen's statement was nothing more than an empty comment coming from a tired champion, months later, a well-rested Carlsen reiterated his lack of will to play in another world championship match.

Assuming Carlsen does play, one of eight Candidates will challenge him for the title in 2023. Seven players have already claimed their spot at the 2022 Candidates, which starts on June 17. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi qualified for his participation in the 2021 World Chess Championship. FIDE invited GM Teimour Radjabov after the Azerbaijani qualified for the previous Candidates but refused to play due to COVID.

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda earned his spot after winning the 2021 FIDE World Cup. GMs Firouzja and Fabiano Caruana qualified after coming in first and second in the 2021 FIDE Grand Swiss. GMs Nakamura and Richard Rapport qualified for being the champion and runner-up of the 2021 FIDE Grand Prix.

Hikaru Nakamura is one of the eight Candidates.
Nakamura is one of the eight players who qualified for the 2022 Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The final spot belonged to GM Sergey Karjakin for his performance during the 2021 World Cup. However, FIDE's Ethics and Disciplinary Commission banned Karjakin for six months after the player publicly supported the invasion of his birth country, Ukraine. Although the grandmaster claimed that he saw no point in trying to revert the decision, the Russian news agency Tass reported on April 6 that Russia’s chess chief had filed an appeal against Karjakin's suspension.

However, FIDE dismissed Karjakin's appeal, giving him little chance to make it to the Candidates. If the ban is confirmed, the remaining spot will go to the highest-rated player as of May 2022, currently GM Ding Liren. Ding, who had not played the minimum 30 classical games between June 2021 and May 2022 to qualify before FIDE announced Karjakin's suspension, quickly began playing in Chinese tournaments. The supergrandmaster finally played his 30th rated game on April 22 and is now eligible to play in the Candidates.

What Happens If Carlsen Doesn't Play

If Carlsen goes through with his promise to not play in the next WCC, he forfeits his World Champion title. FIDE has not released an updated regulation for the next world championship match, so it's impossible to know who would take over the throne.

The only time in history where a similar scenario happened was in 1975 when GM Bobby Fischer refused to play in a world championship match. FIDE stripped Fischer of his title and gave it to his would-be challenger, GM Anatoly Karpov.

However, as pointed out by GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, FIDE's regulations for the 2021 WCC were different than what they were in 1975. If FIDE keeps the regulations unchanged for this year, the new world champion will not be the winner of the 2022 Candidates, but the winner of a match between the Candidates champion and the tournament's runner-up.

Statistics

Below you can see a few statistics on the 2023 World Chess Championship.

Carlsen's score against the field:

Carlsen has an impressive score in classical games against the Candidates field. With 52 wins, 117 draws, and 18 losses (as of April 13), the world champion's dominance is undeniable:

Against Wins Draws Losses
Radjabov 12 23 6
Duda 3 5 1
Firouzja 4 2 0
Rapport 3 1 1
Nakamura 13 25 1
Ding 1 8 0
Nepomniachtchi 5 15 4
Caruana 11 38 5
Total 52 117 18

Carlsen's first moves in world championship matches:

As White
1.e4 20
1.d4 6
1.c4 4
1.Nf3 2
As Black against 1.e4
1...e5 15
1...c5 7
1...c6 1
As Black against 1.d4
1...Nf6 6
1...d5 1
As Black against 1.c4
1...e6 1

Schedule

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich declared during the 2021 WCC that the next world championship match would occur at the beginning of 2023. FIDE has not released the official schedule yet.

Format

FIDE has not released the complete regulations of the 2023 WCC. However, they confirmed that the match will be similar to the previous one where Carlsen and the Nepomniachtchi played 14 classical games, with the first player to reach 7.5 points winning. If the match was still tied after the 14 classical games were over, a rapid/blitz tiebreak would have decided the champion.

Broadcast

The last world championship match between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi had many memorable moments. While Carlsen was asserting his dominance over the board with an impressive 7.5-3.5 score, another remarkable feat happened outside the chessboard.

Led by the "sofa boys" IM Danny Rensch and GMs Robert Hess and Caruana, the 2021 WCC broadcast shattered viewership records. Chess.com's coverage amassed more than 25 million views during the championship, the highest for any chess event in history.

The 2021 World Chess Championship Chess.com broadcast featured Hess, Caruana, and Rensch.
Caruana, Hess, and Rensch during the 2021 World Chess Championship broadcast.

In 2023, Chess.com's coverage of the World Chess Championship will be even bigger and better. We will publish more details about it here in the future.

History

Official World Chess Championship matches have a long tradition, with the first one happening in 1886. Wilhelm Steinitz defeated Johannes Zuckertort to become the first official world champion. After him, Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, and GM Max Euwe defeated the reigning world champions to claim the title. Alekhine eventually won his title back from Euwe and later died while still occupying the throne.

Following Alekhine's death, GM Mikhail Botvinnik became the next world champion. Botvinnik lost and reclaimed his title twice, first to GM Vasily Smyslov and then to GM Mikhail Tal. Botvinnik lost his title once more—this time for good—in a match against GM Tigran Petrosian.

World champions Smyslov, Botvinnik, Euwe, and Tal
World champions Smyslov, Botvinnik, Euwe, and Tal in 1961. Photo: Dutch National Archives, CC.

GM Boris Spassky proceeded to defeat Petrosian to become the world champion. In 1972, GM Bobby Fischer defeated Spassky in the "Match of the Century," ending the Soviet hegemony —if only for a brief moment.

Fischer refused to play a match against Karpov to defend his title after FIDE refused to meet his demands. Karpov was then declared the world champion and kept his title for 10 years before losing it to GM Garry Kasparov.

After defeating Karpov in three subsequent matches, Kasparov made demands for his next world championship match, which FIDE denied. Kasparov then stepped away from FIDE and founded another international chess organization, the Professional Chess Association (PCA). From 1993 until 2006, the world champion title was split, with PCA and FIDE both organizing world championship matches.

Kasparov and Karpov in 1985.
Kasparov and Karpov in 1985. Photo: Owen Williams, CC.

FIDE champions include Karpov, GMs Alexander Khalifman, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and Veselin Topalov. However, these titles have been disputed for multiple reasons.

During the same period, Kasparov defended his title successfully against GMs Nigel Short and Anand but lost it to GM Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik, thus, is considered the 14th World Champion.

Kramnik defended his title against GM Peter Leko and then won a "reunification match" against Topalov. After this event, FIDE once more took sole control of world championship matches. The Russian kept his title until Anand took over his place in 2007.

Anand won the next three championship matches but lost his title to Carlsen. Since then, the Norwegian has kept his crown by defeating Anand in 2014, Karjakin in 2016, Caruana in 2018, and Nepomniachtchi in 2021.

Carlsen in 2021.
Carlsen at the closing ceremony of the 2021 World Chess Championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Check out this article to learn more about all the world champions.

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