The 2020 World Chess Championship is a chess match between reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen against and opponent still to be determined which will be held later in 2020 under the jurisdiction of the FIDE, the governing body of chess. Carlsen’s opponent will be known after the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 which will begin later this month in Russia.

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FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020

The FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 is an eight-man tournament that will determine the chess player who will challenge defending champion Magnus Carlsen for the 2020 World Chess Championship later this year. The tournament will be held in a double round-robin format form March 15, 2020, to April 05, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The tournament will have a total of 14 rounds with each player facing each other twice: once with the white pieces and another using black piece. Time control will be 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game; plus a 30-second increment per move starting move 1.

The opening ceremony and technical meeting of the players will be held on March 16, 2020, with Round 1 starting the following day on March 17th. Players will have a rest day after every three rounds completed. The 14th and last round will be held on April 3, 2020, and if there is a tie-break, it will be held on the following day, together with the closing ceremonies.

Aside from earning the right to face the current world champion in the World Championship, the winner of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 will receive a cash prize. The total cash prize fund is 500,000 euros and players who finish with the same score after 14 round will receive an equal share of the prize.

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History of the FIDE Candidates Tournament

The tournament was first organized by FIDE in 1950 as the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Championship. Before 1993, it was held as a triennial tournament or held every three years from 1950 to 1992. The cycle was disrupted in 1996 during the split of the World Championships and even after the reunification in 2006. In 2013, it has become a biennial affair with the qualification stage held on the odd years and the tournament proper on the even year with the world championship happening in the same year after the tournament.

David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky finished in a tie at the first-ever tournament in 1950. Bronstein won a match between the two and finished in a tie with world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in the World Championship. Botvinnik retained the world title as a result of the tie. Three years later, Vassily Smyslov won the tournament and faced Botvinnik in the World Championship. The latter kept his world title again as the two played to a draw. In 1956, Smyslov won the tournament in Amsterdam and went on to dethrone Botvinnik in the world championship.

In the history of the tournament, only Boris Spassky, Victor Korchnoi, and Viswanathan Anand have qualified for another title match after losing the first match. Spassky lost his first attempt against Petroisian in 1966 but came back to beat Petrosian in 1969. Korchnoi meanwhile lost both times to Anatoly Karpov, in 1978 and 1981.

In 2013, Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik fought in a dramatic and historic contest in London. Carlsen and Kramnik finished in a tie after both lost their final round matches. They played in two-tiebreakers with Carlsen emerging victorious.

The Norwegian would later defeat Anand for the world title. Anand won the next tournament in 2014 but Carlsen successfully defended his world title against the man he won it from. The Norwegian also defeated Karjakin in 2016 and Fabiano Caruana in 2018. This year, Carlsen is set to defend his world title for the fourth time and the winner of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020 will determine his next challenger.

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Who Are the Challengers?

Fabiano Caruana is an Italian-American chess grandmaster who won the 2019 FIDE Candidates Tournament. He is the 2nd ranked chess player in the world and has a rating of 2842. Caruana finished second to Sergey Karjakin in 2016. The 27-year old from Miami, Florida became a grandmaster in 2007. He won the London Chess Classic in 2017 and the following year, he became the first American to challenge for a world title since Bobby Fischer in 1972

Ding Liren is the highest-rated Chinese chess player in history and is a three-time Chinese chess champion. The 27-year old reached the finals of the Chess World Cup in 2017 and 2019 but finished runner-up in both tournaments. Ding is the 3rd ranked chess player in the world today and has a rating of 2805.

Alexander Grischuk is a three-time world blitz chess champion and the 2009 Russian Chess champion. The 36-year old is the 4th ranked chess player in the world with a rating of 2777. This will be Grischuk’s fifth time to compete in the Candidates Tournament and his best finish was second place in 2011.

Ian Nepomniachtchi qualified for the tournament after finishing as runner-up in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix. Nepomniachtchi won the 2019 Russian Superfinal and European Individual title. He also won the 2016 Tal Memorial and was a member of the gold medal-winning Russian team in the 2013 World Team Chess Championships. He is currently ranked 5th with a rating of 2774.

Teimour Radjabov was the winner of the 2019 FIDE World Cup. The Azerbaijan native will be making his third appearance in the Candidates Tournament. In 2011, he was eliminated in the first round by Vladimir Kramnik and he finished 8th in 2013. Radjabov is ranked 9th with a rating of 2765.

Anish Giri qualified for the tournament as the player with the highest rating for 12 rating periods from February 2019 to January 2020. The grandmaster from the Netherlands finished fourth during his first-ever Candidates Tournament appearance in 2016 where he produced 14 draws.

Wang Hao is making his first Candidates Tournament appearance. Wang is the 4th Chinese player to break the 2700 ELO rating mark and is the winner of the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament in 2019 which qualified him for this tournament. The 30-year old is ranked 12th in the world with a rating of 2762.

Kirill Alekseenko is the wildcard participant in this tournament. He finished third in the 2019 FIDE Grand Swiss to earn the wild card spot. Alekseenko is the lowest-ranked chess player in this tournament at 39 and he has a rating of 2698.

As stated earlier, these eight grandmasters will battle it out for the right to face Carlsen in the world championship which will be held later this year. Now there are no betting odds for the Candidates Tournament right now but the odds to win the 2020 World Chess Championship are out. Check these out:

*Odds from BetOnline as of 03/06/20

Player Odds
Magnus Carlsen -300
Fabiana Caruana +550
Liren Ding +700
Alexander Grischuk +2000
Ian Nepomniachitchi +2000
Anish Giri +2800
Hao Wang +5000
Teimour Radjabov +5000
Kirill Alekseenko +12500
Field +200

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Who Wins?

Carlsen ended Viswanathan Anand’s run of four straight world championships won in 2013. He defeated Anand again for his second title and has won another two since then. In January, Carlsen shattered Sergei Tiviakov’s world record of 110 consecutive wins in classical matches. As the defending champion, Carlsen is installed as one of the two finalists in the championship final. The rest of the field will undergo a double round-robin competition to determine Carlsen’s next challenger. This means that betting on Carlsen will be a 50-50 bet already. Given his dominance in recent years, it’s hard not to bet on Carlsen. He’s on top of his game and at the age of 29, the Norwegian Prodigy isn’t in his prime yet.

Prediction: Magnus Carlsen

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