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Russia will be the hotbed for chess in 2020

by Sagar Shah - 13/11/2019

The year 2020 will be an exciting one for chess and Russia will be the hotbed for some of the most important events. As early as March 2020 we have the Candidates tournament which will be an 8-player double round robin event to determine the challenger to World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This will be held in the fourth largest city in Russia - Yekaterinberg. During July-August 2020, we will witness not just the Chess Olympiad in Moscow, but also for the 1st time in the history - a Chess Paralympiad. The Chess Paralympiad in Khanty Mansiysk will be held from 29th July to 4th August, while the Olympiad will be in Moscow from 5th to 17th of August. We bring you all the details along with the probable players who have qualified for the Candidates 2020.

Russia will be the hotbed for chess in 2020 as two major events will be held in the country - the Candidates 2020 and the Chess Olympiad 2020. On 11th of November 2019, a press conference was called in Gogolevsky building, the headquarters of the Russian Chess Federation, where some important decisions were announced.

The speakers were (from left to right) the former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the President of the Chess Federation of Russia Andrey Filatov the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, the Head of Sverdlovsk Region Chess Federation, Andrey Simanovsky and Mark Glukhovsky, who conducted the press conference.

Candidates 2020

The Candidates tournament to determine the challenger for the World Championship title against Magnus Carlsen will be held from the 15th of March to 5th of April 2020 in the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia.  

Yekaterinburg is the fourth-largest city in Russia located on the Iset River east of the Ural Mountains, in the middle of the Eurasian continent, on the Asian side of the boundary between Asia and Europe. In 2018, it had an estimated population of 1,501,652. Yekaterinburg has been dubbed the "third capital of Russia", as it is ranked third by the size of economy, culture, transportation and tourism. It is located about 1,420 kilometres (880 mi) to the east of Moscow. Yekaterinburg is one of the most important economic centres in Russia, and the city had experienced economic and population growth recently. Some of the tallest buildings in Russia are located in the city.

 

As a member of the Organizing Committee, Anatoly Karpov added: "I’m regularly visiting Yekaterinburg and I admire how the city has recently flourished. Yekaterinburg has all the needed infrastructure to organize the best Candidates’ tournament in chess history. I’ll be there myself taking part in the event’s cultural program".

Who are the Candidates?

Fabiano Caruana gets a berth in the Candidates by the virtue of being the World Championship runner-up | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Teimour Radjabov won the World Cup 2019 and qualified for the Candidates 2020 | Photo: World Cup 2019

One of the biggest challengers to Carlsen's throne - Ding Liren will play at the Candidates by virtue of being the runner-up at the World Cup 2019 | Photo: Grand Chess Tour

The second Chinese GM in the Candidates 2020 - Wang Hao. He won the Grand Swiss 2019 | Photo: Maria Emelianova/chesss.com

Barring a few technical issues, it is almost certain that Anish Giri will get the spot of the highest rating average at the Candidates 2020. | Photo: Grand Chess Tour 2019

Two spots from FIDE Grand Prix

The third leg of the FIDE Grand Prix is in progress at Hamburg currently and the next one will be held in Moscow in December. Two spots to Candidates come from this event. The current leaders are Alexander Grischuk and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. As Grischuk managed to beat MVL in the semi-finals of the Hamburg GP, it seems almost certain that he would be one of the Candidates. But as there is still some chess left to be played here, it is difficult to determine the qualifiers just as yet.

Wild Card:

The final spot at the event will go to a wild card. Here are the important conditions for a wild card to be selected:

"One wild card is selected by the organizer. This player must participate in at least two of the three qualifying tournaments (World Cup, Grand Swiss and Grand Prix) and must also meet one of the following conditions: highest non-qualifier in the World Cup and also in the final 4 of the World Cup; highest non-qualifier in the Grand Swiss or Grand Prix; or top 10 by average rating from February 2019 to January 2020."

As Kiril Alekseenko finished third at the Grand Swiss 2019 (second spot went to Caruana, who has already qualified), he will be considered for the Wild card entry. | Photo: World Cup 2019

President of Russian Chess Federation (RCF) Andrey Filatov said, "The decision to host this event in Russia guarantees that there will be a Russian player participating. We’re still considering different options on how we’ll choose a Russian wild-card, but it will probably be a match or match-tournament with Kirill Alekseenko, third-place finisher in the Grand Swiss, taking part in it."

As Grischuk's chances to qualify via Grand Prix increase, it seems likely that there will be a match between Alekseenko and Nepomniachtchi for the wild card spot

The Director-General of FIDE Emil Sutovsky further clarified this in a Facebook post:

"Wild card for Candidates 2020 will be determined as follows: Kirill Alekseenko - if both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Grischuk qualify through GP, or the match to be staged between these two (three) Russian players. P.S. Theoretically, Dubov and Karjakin still have a chance to claim the third place in GP, and be also in contention."

Olympiad 2020

The FIDE Olympiad 2020 was scheduled to be held in Khanty Mansiysk. However, the plans have been changed. From July 29th to 4th August 2020, a new idea - the Chess Paralympiad will be held in Khanty Mansiysk. While from the 5th to the 17th of August 2020, the chess Olympiad will be held in Moscow.

 

The idea of chess Paralympiad, championed by Nigel Short, received appreciation by Arkady Dvorkovich and all the FIDE team, and is now becoming a reality. This growth will imply that the Olympiad will have two host cities instead of just one, as it was initially planned. "The main host city will be Khanty-Mansiysk, that will host the FIDE Congress, the first-ever Chess Paralympiad, and other official events. The dates are moved a little bit, and the official opening will take place in Khanty on July 29", explained the FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich. "To make this great event more visible and accessible for the spectators, the joint decision made by RCF and FIDE is to hold the main tournament in Moscow, from August 5 to August 17", he added.

Speaking to ChessBase India, Nigel Short said, “I started to think seriously about disability and chess during the Baku Olympiad, when England played against the team from the blind association in the first round. I thought to myself “Can’t we do better for these people?” But it was not until two years later, at the Batumi Olympiad, that I broached the subject, while on a bus, to the Chairman of the FIDE Commission for the Disabled, GM Thomas Luther. He was very receptive to my general concept. Thus the idea began to take shape, but was only finalized earlier this year when I flew out to Bratislava to discuss it with Arkady Dvorkovich. He was immensely supportive, The basic idea is 2 competitions (open and women) of 3 teams (blind, deaf, disabled) from each of the 4 FIDE continents (America, Asia, Africa and Europe) played as a round-robin . This is the format which I presented to the Presidential Board meeting in Baku,this year, and which was unanimously approved, but it is possible it may be changed. I am less bothered with the precise final details, but more concerned with getting this major new event for disabled players off the ground. This will provide opportunities for many more players with disabilities, a make a huge step towards aligning ourselves with the international Paralympic movement."

Team India:

At the Candidates 2020, we have no Indian players who have qualified. However, the Olympiad will be highly interesting as team India looks for its first team Gold in both the open and women's section.

The Olympiad 2018 in Batumi was exciting as all the top players of Indian chess took part in it. It will be wonderful to see all the stars playing for team India once again and trying to win a medal for the country! | Photo: Niklesh Jain