FIDE Candidates Tournament Officially Opened In Absence Of Participants
Over a thousand people attended the opening ceremony on Monday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

FIDE Candidates Tournament Officially Opened In Absence Of Participants

| 76 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Candidates Tournament was officially opened on Monday evening at the Ekaterinburg Expo Congress Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The participants of the tournament did not attend, in order to avoid exposure to the more than a thousand attendees.

You can follow the FIDE Candidates Tournament with commentary on during each round. The first round is on Tuesday, March 17 at 16:00 local time which is 12:00 Central Europe, 7 a.m. Eastern and 4 a.m. Pacific. You can follow the games live on our dedicated page on Find all the information about the Candidates Tournament in our info article.

Attended by over a thousand guests fearless of coronavirus contamination, the opening ceremony was hosted by the renowned Russian film actress Alena Babenko and sports commentator Viktor Gusev. Speakers included the governor of the Sverdlovsk region Evgeny Kuyvashev, FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, and the 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov.

Anatoly Karpov Candidates Opening Ceremony
Anatoly Karpov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The participants were not present at the opening of the tournament, which is one of the few sports events in the world that were not canceled due to the coronavirus this month. The topic that dominates the news couldn't be ignored on this evening either. Dvorkovich said:

"I would like to note that in terms of medical safety measures, the tournament organizing committee fully follows the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Rospotrebnadzor [the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing - PD] and fulfills all the prescribed requirements."

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Earlier, reported that everyone involved in the tournament—players, seconds, arbiters, organizers, and officials—are being medically checked twice per day. On top of that, everyone was tested for the coronavirus upon arrival in the official hotel and will be tested again on day 10.

Another health and safety measure is that spectators won't be allowed in the playing hall, and all additional mass events such as side tournaments and simuls have been canceled. Those measures are difficult to rhyme with the big crowd that gathered at the opening ceremony.

The official part of the ceremony was followed by a concert by the famous Russian violist and conductor Yuri Bashmet and his "Moscow Soloists" Chamber Orchestra. The concert featured other renowned Russian classical music artists such as Bolshoi Theatre soloist Alina Yarovaya and opera singer Vasily Gerello. The music event also included a performance of the top stars of the Bolshoi Theatre.

Bolshoi theater performance Candidates chess
A performance during the opening ceremony. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Somewhat ironically, it was during the opening ceremony that phones of some attendees started buzzing as the Russian Ministry of Sports canceled all international sports competitions in Russia until further notice. A FIDE source soon confirmed that the Candidates Tournament is not affected by the measure.

Church of All Saints, Yekaterinburg
The Church of All Saints. Photo: Peter Doggers/

Earlier in the day, a press conference for the local media was held at the Sverdlovsk Journalists' Union. The building is located along the Iset river, across the Hyatt Regency (the tournament venue) and a stone's throw away from the famous Church of All Saints, built on the location where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were shot by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.

Dvorkovich and Karpov were prominent speakers at the press conference, and they were joined by one of the Russian participants, GM Kirill Alekseenko.

Dvorkovich pointed out that the tournament might get more exposure than in normal times: "This is a big event not just for the chess world but, possibly, for the whole sporting community since almost all international competitions have been canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus."

2020 FIDE Candidates opening ceremony
The press conference earlier today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

Wildcard Alekseenko put smiles on the faces of the media as he not only expressed his gratitude for being invited, but also stated that he is playing the tournament to win it: "Only the first place gives a chance to challenge Magnus Carlsen."

The Candidates Tournament has a prize fund of 500,00 euros ($557.720,00). Eight players will fight for a chance to play World Champion Carlsen at the World Chess Championship later in the year.

Follow on

  • You can watch the games live at with computer analysis, live chat and video commentary by GM Vishy Anand, GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Wesley So, GM Robert Hess, IM Danny Rensch and other special guests. Our live broadcast will also be available on
  • Daily news recaps will be posted on the news pages with in-depth grandmaster analysis of the games.
  • Further recap videos will be published on YouTube with more GM analysis.
  • On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we'll provide the latest news, photos, rumors and more from the tournament.
  • Find our extensive information article about the tournament here. commentators FIDE Candidates
Our commentary team for the FIDE Candidates.

Fantasy Contest

You can play in's Candidates Fantasy Contest during the tournament for your chance at a share of $5,000 and premium memberships. Draft your team now and follow the action live on ChessTV.

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