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Carlsen To Play In FIDE Chess World Cup Again
Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Carlsen To Play In FIDE Chess World Cup Again

PeterDoggers
| 45 | Chess Event Coverage

Just like in 2017, GM Magnus Carlsen will be participating in the FIDE World Cup that starts July 12 in Sochi, Russia. The world champion won't be clashing with his challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, who instead has chosen to focus on preparing for the world title match.

It will be Carlsen's second appearance in a FIDE World Cup as a reigning world champion, and it means he is again participating in the cycle for the next world championship. FIDE recently announced that the two finalists of the World Cup will qualify for the 2022 Candidates Tournament, thus Carlsen will have some influence. 

If Carlsen can win the tournament this time, the runner-up and the winner of the match for third place will qualify for the Candidates.

The World Cup games will run July 12-August 6. It is bigger than ever with 206 participants (compared to 128 before). As one of the top-50 seeds, Carlsen will begin in round two starting on July 15.

In their news article, FIDE speculates about Carlsen's reasons to play again: "Magnus has never won a FIDE World Cup, despite being a firm supporter of knock-out tournaments. The champion probably wants to prove to the world, and to himself, that he can also excel in this format."

In August 2015, the Norwegian star proposed a knockout format for the world championship itself. On Facebook, he wrote back then: "I have long thought that moving to an annual knock-out event, similar to the World Cup, would be more equitable."

His schedule didn't allow him to play in 2015. Therefore, the 2017 edition in Tbilisi, Georgia, was his first as a world champion. It wasn't a big success, though: he was eliminated in the third round by Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi.

Carlsen 2017 World Cup Bu Xiangzhi Chess
In 2017, Carlsen could pack his bags after round three. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Even in 2017, it was not a complete novelty that a reigning FIDE world champion joined the new world championship cycle. GMs Alexander Khalifman, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov had all taken part in FIDE World Cups. Note that in those cases, not participating would automatically have caused them to lose the title.

Carlsen himself played in two World Cups before he was the world champion. In 2005, in Khanty-Mansiysk, he finished in 10th place. In 2007, also in Khanty-Mansiysk, he lost in the semifinals to the eventual winner, GM Gata Kamsky.

The upcoming World Cup tournament will again see two standard (classical) games per round, followed by a rapid and blitz tiebreak on day three in case of a 1-1 tie. The total prize fund is $1.89 million (1.56 million euros) with the first prize of $110,000 (90,000 euros).

Simultaneously, the Women's World Cup will be taking place as well in Sochi with 103 participants in total: 78 in the first round and 25 seeded players joining in the second round. The total prize fund is $676,250 (557,433 euros) with the first prize of $50,000 (41,220 euros).

Top players planning to play in the World Cup include GMs Fabiano Caruana, Ding Liren (two-time finalist), Anish Giri, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Teimour Radjabov (winner in 2019), Levon Aronian (winner in 2005 and 2017), Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakin (winner in 2015), and Alireza Firouzja.

In the women's section, GM Hou Yifan and Humpy Koneru won't play, but the reigning world champion can be seen in action: GM Ju WenjunFIDE plans to publish the complete list of participants in a few days.

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