Fabiano Caruana and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave at the 2020-1 FIDE Candidates | photo: Lennart Ootes
FIDE, the World Chess Federation, today announced a new qualification system for the 2024 Candidates Tournament. The Grand Prix is gone and there’s no wildcard, with an extra 3rd spot for the World Cup and a new “FIDE Circuit” place for the best results in eligible tournaments in 2023. The biggest surprise is that the two announced spots for the Grand Chess Tour are gone.
The FIDE Candidates Tournament is arguably the second most important event in chess, deciding who gets to be the challenger in the next World Championship match. There are only 8 spots, so that it was big news in April this year when FIDE and the Grand Chess Tour announced an agreement for a quarter of those places in 2024 and 2026.
Apparent adversaries, FIDE run by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Garry Kasparov, who co-founded the Tour, were burying the hatchet for mutual benefit. FIDE would be freed from the need to fund an expensive series of events themselves, while the prestige of the Tour would grow.
Fast forward 8 months, however, and FIDE’s new announcement of the altered format of the tournament doesn’t mention the Grand Chess Tour at all.
Some things have stayed the same as for the 2022 Tournament. There are places for:
World Chess (Agon) who ran the Grand Prix and events such as the Berlin Candidates, are now completely gone from the World Championship cycle | photo: Lennart Ootes
The difference is that the Grand Prix series, which saw Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport qualify for 2022, has gone completely. Who now takes those spots?
The final point is the most mysterious and takes up most of the space in FIDE’s announcement. It has echoes of both a proposal by the Association of Chess Professionals to give a spot to open tournaments and the apparently failed deal with the Grand Chess Tour — all the events on the tour should be eligible, but only among many others.
The circuit doesn’t envisage creating any new tournaments but instead keeping track of players’ performances in strong events, with their best five results summed up to find the winner for the year. Strong rapid and blitz events are included, but can only count for one of a player’s five events.
Anish Giri perhaps summed things up best:
But if you want to dive into the details, here’s how the rankings will be decided:
D. 1 spot - a player who would achieve the highest results during one year (2023) in the FIDE-rated tournaments satisfying the below criteria approved by FIDE (eligible events). The winner becomes a qualifier before determining a qualifier by rating as in (E).
Qualification track (D):
1. Eligible Tournaments
1.1 Eligible tournaments are FIDE-rated individual tournaments which meet the following criteria:
For National Championships, criteria f) and g) are waived.
1.2 The following non-standard play tournaments are included:
World Rapid Championship
World Blitz Championship
Continental Rapid and Blitz Championships
Other Rapid & Blitz tournaments with an average standard rating of top 8 players at the start of the tournament of 2700 or higher
2. Points System per Tournament
2.1 Points are awarded to players in one of the first 8 places in a tournament, provided that the player is in the top half of the final tournament ranking.
2.2 A player only counts in a round-robin if they play more than half of their scheduled game, and a player only counts in a Swiss if they miss at most one round (excluding pairing-allocated byes).
2.3 The number of points that tied players score shall be calculated as 50% of points for their final ranking determined by the tournament’s tie-break rules, plus 50% of the sum of points assigned for the tied places divided by the number of tied players. This also applies to players who tied for one of the first 8 places but appear below 8th place in the final ranking according to the tournament’s rules.
2.4 The event score for each player is determined by the number of points multiplied by the tournament strength factor calculated as follows: k= (TAR-2500)/100. If rapid and blitz tournaments are taken into account (if this is provided for by these rules), the standard rating of players is taken into account.
2.5 Losing Quarter Finalists in the World Cup shall be deemed to have finished in 5th place for the purpose of calculating the event score. World Cup event scores calculated using the method in 2.4 are added to 2 for the purpose of the final score calculation.
2.6 The event scores calculated using the method in 2.4 for the World Rapid and Blitz Championships are multiplied by 0.8 and 0.6, respectively, for the purpose of the final score calculation.
The event scores calculated using the method in 2.4 for the Continental Rapid and Blitz Championships and other eligible rapid and blitz events are multiplied by 0.6 and 0.4, respectively, for the purpose of the final score calculation.
3. Ranking List
3.1 Each player has to play in a minimum of 5 eligible tournaments, including at least 4 eligible tournaments with standard time control.
3.2 The final score of a player for the purposes of qualification to the Candidates is calculated as the sum of the player’s five highest event scores, of which at least 4 tournaments must be tournaments with standard time controls. The final score calculation can include the following eligible tournaments:
3.2.1 Official eligible tournaments: National Championships and/or FIDE competitions organised under the aegis of EVE and GSC, as well as Continental Championships
3.2.2 Other eligible tournaments: A maximum of one event per country (except for official eligible tournaments in 3.2.1). A “country” for the purpose of this rule is defined as the territories represented by national federations.
3.3 In case of a tie in the final ranking of players, the tie will be broken by removing the lowest event score that was included in the player’s final score calculation. If this fails to resolve the tie, then this process shall be repeated until the tie is broken.
3.4 FIDE shall update and publish the Ranking List on a weekly basis.
That’s all to decide just one of the eight spots, which will almost certainly go to an elite tournament regular, so that the best shot for the wider group of strong but not necessarily elite players will be via the more unpredictable World Cup and Grand Swiss paths.
What do you think of the new system?