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FIDE Announces 2024 Candidates Tournament Qualification Paths
The closing ceremony of the 2022 Candidates. We now know how players will qualify for the 2024 Candidates Tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FIDE Announces 2024 Candidates Tournament Qualification Paths

NathanielGreen
| 49 | Chess Event Coverage

On December 15, 2022, FIDE announced the paths of qualification for the next Candidates Tournament, which will be held in 2024 and will determine the challenger in the 2024 World Championship. The paths are:

  • Runner-up at the 2023 World Championship 
  • Top 3 finishers at the 2023 World Cup
  • Top 2 finishers at the 2023 Grand Swiss
  • Top finisher in the "FIDE Circuit"
  • And one spot by rating.

Five spots have been rearranged compared to the previous cycle—the one after the 2021 World Championship—which ultimately produced both GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and GM Ding Liren as challengers after GM Magnus Carlsen decided not to defend his title. Three spots remain consistent: the World Championship runner-up and the two spots from the Grand Swiss. 

FIDE's announcement marks the return of the rating spot as a normal part of the qualification after a one-cycle absence. Rating ultimately came into play this past cycle regardless, after GM Sergey Karjakin was banned from FIDE prior to the 2022 Candidates Tournament. It was used to select Ding Liren as Karjakin's replacement.

A spot for the top three finishers at the World Cup, instead of just the top two, is also not new historically speaking. However, it was most recently the case only back in the 2011 World Cup, which delivered three of the 2013 Candidates Tournament participants.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda Sergey Karajkin
Duda and Karjakin originally qualified for the 2022 Candidates via the 2021 World Cup. In 2023, the two finalists will be joined by the third-place finisher. Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

This leaves the newest path of the new cycle to discuss. The so-called "FIDE Circuit" will occur throughout the 2023 calendar year and be made up of what FIDE describes as: "Tournaments that meet certain criteria, like being played under standard time control, supervised by International Arbiters, and where Fair Play measures are applied." More details are provided in FIDE's announcement.

It is not yet clear which specific tournaments these will be, except for a handful explicitly named in the announcement: the 2023 World Rapid Championship, 2023 World Blitz Championship, and the 2023 Continental Rapid and Blitz Championships.

It seems likely that some or all of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) events will count toward the Circuit. However, the April 2022 agreement between FIDE and the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) to use that series to produce two candidates has apparently fallen through. 

Alireza Firouzja
GM Alireza Firouzja at the 2021 Grand Swiss, which qualified him for the 2022 Candidates. He also won the 2022 Grand Chess Tour, the 2023 version of which may or may not impact who makes the next Candidates. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FIDE has also outlined specific procedures for finding a replacement player should one be needed. And one has been needed for the past two Candidates Tournaments; in addition to the Ding-for-Karajkin replacement this year, there was GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave replacing GM Teimour Radjabov in the 2020-21 Candidates. In both cases, especially in 2022, the replacement process was messy and controversial.

Radjabov sat out the 2020-21 Candidates before receiving a 2022 Candidates spot as compensation. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Generally speaking, the replacement will depend on the path of the player who originally qualified. For example, if a World Cup participant is replaced, fourth place at that same event is first in line to replace the original player.

The 2024 Candidates Tournament will be the first one since 2013 where Carlsen is not the defending world champion. We now know how players will qualify. The next step is to see who will actually do it.

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