2024 Candidates Tournament Set

The table is set for the biggest tournament in chess. Eight grandmasters have been named candidates for the 2024 World Championship. These eight players will compete in a double round-robin tournament, The Candidates Tournament, for the right to challenge sitting World Champion GM Ding Liren. The candidates are listed below:

NameNationalityFIDE RatingWorld Ranking
Fabiano CaruanaU.S.28042
Hikaru NakamuraU.S.27883
Ian NepomniachtchiRussia*27695
Alireza FirouzjaFrance27596
R. PraggnanandhaaIndia274313
Vidit GujrathiIndia274214
Gukesh DIndia272525
Nijat AbasovAzerbaijan2641102
*Russian and Belarusian players compete under the FIDE flag

            There are several items of note from this list of candidates. First, the top player in the world, Magnus Carlsen, is not present. Though he qualified for the tournament, he said that “there is absolutely no chance” that he will play in the tournament. Nijat Abasov, by far the lowest-rated candidate, will replace Carlsen based on Abasov’s performance at the 2023 Chess World Cup. Carlsen’s decision mirrors his decision not to defend his World Championship in 2022.

            Second, there are three candidates from India, a feat that India has never achieved. Third, current world champion Ding Liren is only the 4th highest-ranked player in the world. His grasp on the World Championship is tenuous, and the winner of the candidates will have an excellent chance at becoming the next World Champion.

            The 2024 Candidates Tournament will take place in Toronto, Canada from April 2nd to April 25th.

Alireza Firouzja Clinches Controversial Candidate’s Bid

Twenty-year-old French Iranian Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja is a candidate for the World Chess Championship. He qualifies for the tournament as the highest-rated player to have not already qualified. Just a few weeks ago, American GM Wesley So seemed likely to earn the spot. Alireza pulled off the comeback, but he caused some controversy.

            First, Alireza organized his own tournament comprised of grandmasters past their prime. Alireza was expected to gain enough rating points to defeat Wesley So by defeating these overrated grandmasters. His tournament was aptly named the “Way to the Candidates.” There was considerable backlash to the event, and the U.S. Chess Federation requested that FIDE not rate the tournament. FIDE’s statement on the tournament implies that they are considering the USCF’s request. However, this decision is a moot point.

            In a stunning turn of events, Alireza lost a critical game late in his “Way to the Candidates” Tournament and fell just short of Wesley So’s rating. Alireza dropped out of the World Blitz and Rapid Championship, which had a $1,000,000 prize fund, for an open swiss tournament with a $700 prize fund. In addition to the smaller prize fund, the swiss tournament forced Alireza into games with much lower-rated opponents. He played two games with players rated lower than 2000, and another against a 2200 player. A single draw could have badly hurt Alireza’s rating, but he went 6-0-0 in the tournament, clinching a spot in the Candidates Tournament.