Photo via Maria Emelianova / Chess.com (courtesy of FIDE)

How to watch the 2024 Candidates Tournament: Format, chess players, schedule

Who will be the next challenger?

The best chess players in the world will soon gather in Toronto to find the next world championship challenger. This biannual event always brings incredible innovations and adrenaline-pumping high-stakes action, making it a must-watch affair for all chess fans.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 Candidates Tournament.

2024 Candidates Tournament: format and schedule

The 2024 edition of the Candidates will take place in Toronto, from Apr. 2 to 25. Just like in its previous iterations over the past decade, it will feature eight players and a double round-robin format (where every player will play each other twice, once with each color).

The time control is FIDE’s marathon take on classical chess: 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes added for the next 20, then a bonus 15 minutes plus a 30-second increment starting from move 61.

The day-by-day schedule has not yet been confirmed by FIDE, but if previous events are any guidance, we can expect a rest day after every three rounds of play.

The winner of the tournament will earn the right to challenge Ding Liren for the world championship crown in a head-to-head match later in the year. Unlike last time, when Magnus Carlsen’s decision to abdicate meant the runner-up finisher would also qualify for the match, this time, it will be a winner-take-all affair as usual.

Here are the players who qualified for the 2024 Candidates Tournament

Based on various criteria, the best chess players in the world have been battling it out for the past two years for a chance to qualify for the Candidates, and the field is finally settled.

  • The loser of the 2022 World Chess Championship final – Ian Nepomniachtchi
  • The top three* finishers of the 2023 FIDE World Cup – Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, Fabiano Caruana, Nijat Abasov (the fourth-place finisher, replacing Magnus Carlsen)
  • The top two finishers of the 2023 FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament – Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Hikaru Nakamura
  • The winner of the 2023 FIDE Circuit – Gukesh Dommaraju
  • The highest-rated eligible player in the January 2024 rankings – Alireza Firouzja

Technically, Magnus Carlsen earned himself a spot by winning the World Cup, but since he confirmed that he has no interest in reclaiming the classical world chess championship title in the current format, fourth-place finisher Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan got the invitation instead.

Anish Giri was expected to take home the FIDE Circuit spot (because the runaway leader, Fabiano Caruana, has already qualified via the World Cup), and Alireza Firouzja was likely to end up as the highest-rated not-yet-qualified player by the end of the year, but chaos followed in the December chess events.

Ultimately, India’s Gukesh D pipped Giri and co. to the post in the FIDE Circuit, while Alireza Firouzja had to grind out a few lower-ranked tournaments to get his rating back up after a set of disastrous results. This meant that some of the best-known players, like Giri and Wesley So, would once again miss out on a spot in the Candidates Tournament in this cycle.

Candidates Tournament visa issues: can everyone attend the event?

While there have been serious public concerns, it has now been confirmed that, yes, every qualified player has received visa approvals for the 2024 Candidates Tournament. On March 1., FIDE posted a public urgent visa appeal to the Canadian government, revealing the information that some world championship challengers have not received updates on their application status with just a month to go until the tournament. Spain was floated as a Plan B, but by March 7., the situation seems to have been resolved.

2024 Candidates chess tournament results and standings

After 7 rounds of play, the standings are as follows:

  1. Ian Nepomniachtchi – 5/8
  2. Gukesh D – 5/8
  3. Hikaru Nakamura – 4.5/8
  4. R Praggnanandhaa – 4.5/8
  5. Fabiano Caruana – 4/8
  6. Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – 3.5/8
  7. Alireza Firouzja – 3/8
  8. Nijat Abasov – 2.5/8

Here are the match pairings for the upcoming rounds:

Round 9

Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – Hikaru Nakamura
Gukesh D – Praggnanandhaa R
Alireza Firouzja – Ian Nepomniachtchi
Nijat Abasov – Fabiano Caruana

Round 10

Hikaru Nakamura – Nijat Abasov
Fabiano Caruana – Alireza Firouzja
Ian Nepomniachtchi – Gukesh D
Praggnanandhaa R – Vidit Santosh Gujrath

Round 11

Praggnanandhaa R – Hikaru Nakamura
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – Ian Nepomniachtchi
Gukesh D – Fabiano Caruana
Alireza Firouzja – Nijat Abasov

Round 12

Hikaru Nakamura – Alireza Firouzja
Nijat Abasov – Gukesh D
Fabiano Caruana – Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Ian Nepomniachtchi – Praggnanandhaa R

Round 13

Ian Nepomniachtchi – Hikaru Nakamura
Praggnanandhaa R – Fabiano Caruana
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi – Nijat Abasov
Gukesh D – Alireza Firouzja

Round 14

Hikaru Nakamura – Gukesh D
Alireza Firouzja – Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Nijat Abasov – Praggnanandhaa R
Fabiano Caruana – Ian Nepomniachtchi

And here are the results from the previous rounds:

Round 1

Fabiano Caruana ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
Nijat Abasov ½-½ Ian Nepomniachtchi
Alireza Firouzja ½-½ Praggnanandhaa R
Gukesh D ½-½ Vidit Santosh Gujrathi

Round 2

Hikaru Nakamura 0-1 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Praggnanandhaa R 0-1 Gukesh D
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1-0 Alireza Firouzja
Fabiano Caruana 1-0 Nijat Abasov

Round 3

Nijat Abasov ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
Alireza Firouzja ½-½ Fabiano Caruana
Gukesh D ½-½ Ian Nepomniachtchi
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 0-1 Praggnanandhaa R

Round 4

Hikaru Nakamura ½-½ Praggnanandhaa R
Ian Nepomniachtchi 1-0 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Fabiano Caruana ½-½ Gukesh D
Nijat Abasov ½-½ Alireza Firouzja

Round 5

Alireza Firouzja 0-1 Hikaru Nakamura
Gukesh D 1-0 Nijat Abasov
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi ½-½ Fabiano Caruana
Praggnanandhaa R ½-½ Ian Nepomniachtchi

Round 6

Gukesh D ½-½ Hikaru Nakamura
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 1-0 Alireza Firouzja
Praggnanandhaa R 1-0 Nijat Abasov
Ian Nepomniachtchi ½-½ Fabiano Caruana

Round 7

Hikaru Nakamura ½-½ Ian Nepomniachtchi
Fabiano Caruana ½-½ Praggnanandhaa R
Nijat Abasov ½-½ Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Alireza Firouzja 1-0 Gukesh D

Round 8

Hikaru Nakamura 1-0 Fabiano Caruana
Ian Nepomniachtchi ½-½ Nijat Abasov
Praggnanandhaa R ½-½ IAlireza Firouzja
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 0-1 Gukesh D


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Author
Luci Kelemen
Weekend editor at Dot Esports. Telling tales of gaming since 2015. Black-belt time-waster when it comes to strategy games and Counter-Strike. Previously featured on PC Gamer, Fanbyte, and more, Occasional chess tournament attendant and even more occasional winner.