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Is an Indian confirmed to play at the FIDE Candidates 2024?

by Sagar Shah - 14/08/2023

The only Indian chess player to have played at the FIDE Candidates until now has been Vishy Anand. The five-time World Champion has been an absolute path breaker for Indian chess. However, after several years there is a chance for another Indian to make it to the Candidates. This time the Candidates is supposed to be held in April 2024. And it almost certain that one spot out of the 8 at the Candidates will be taken by an Indian chess player. At the currently ongoing FIDE World Cup 2023, we have 4 Indians in the final 9 players who are left. We tell you about the rules and navigate through the possibilities in this article.

Who qualifies for the Candidates 2024?

The iconic photo of Vishy coming down the stairs at the Moscow Candidates 2016. Until now Vishy Anand has been the only player in India to have played at the FIDE Candidates.

One of out these four individuals and as many as three out them have a chance to make it to the Candidates!

FIDE Candidates is perhaps the most important tournament in the world of chess after the World Championship. The reason? The one who wins it gets a chance to challenge the World Champion. In 2024 the FIDE Candidates will be held in Canada from 2nd April to 25th April in Toronto, Canada. There will be 8 players taking part and they will qualify via the following routes. Until now only one player's seat has been confirmed at the Candidates, and that is Ian Nepomniacthchi as the runner up of the World Championship 2023. But 7 more seats are up for grabs. This is how they are distributed:

 

1. World Championship 2023 Runner-up - Ian Nepomniachtchi

2. Top 3 finishers at the FIDE World Cup 2023

3. Top 2 finishers at the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2023

4. Winner of 2023 FIDE Circuit

5. Highest Rating for January 2024

 

The FIDE World Cup 2023 is currently in progress in Baku, Azerbaijan and we are down to last 9 players in the open section. This is how the pairing tree looks like:

The current tree of the FIDE World Cup 2023

It's simply amazing that out of the 7 players who have qualified to the Quarter Finals of the World Cup, we already have 3 Indians. This number could become 4 if Vidit beats Nepomniachtchi in the tiebreaks today.

This is one of the most important documents that FIDE Handbook has published. It is section FIDE Handbook D.01.06.1

Let's read the important clause here:

Path B: 3 spots – FIDE World Cup 2023 (Baku 2023), three players who finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If any of these players already qualified for the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 or the FIDE World Championship Match 2024 at the moment of the beginning of World Cup via another qualification path, the qualification spot(s) shall be be awarded, in order of priority: 

‐ the player who finished in 4th place in the World Cup;  

‐ according to rating as in (E). 

 

Reserve clause: If reserves are needed due to a withdrawal from the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2024, their spot is allocated to a player who has not already qualified, in the following way: 

‐ In Paths B and C, the next highest‐finisher in the final tournament standings, but not beyond 4th place. 

If this fails to replace a player, then the spot(s) are allocated using the process in Path E. 

‐ In Paths A, D and E, using the process in Path E. 

Best Case scenario

Praggnanadhaa and Arjun Erigaisi are going to play each other at the Quarter Finals of the FIDE World Cup 2023. One of them has to Qualify for the Semi-Finals. Now imagine that Gukesh manages to beat Carlsen and Vidit manages to beat Nepo in Round of 16 and then Nijat Abasov in the Quarter Finals. Then we have 3 out of 4 Indians in the semi-finals. In this case we get two Indians in the Candidates 2024 for sure and this number could even become 3.

If Vidit manages to beat Nepo and then Nijat Abasov... 

...and Gukesh beats Carlsen, we could see as many as 3 Indians make it to the Candidates via the FIDE World Cup 2023

Worst Case scenario

Imagine that Vidit loses his match either to Nepo or Abasov and Gukesh loses to Carlsen. Now we have only one Indian Pragg/Arjun in the final four. If Nepo has beaten Vidit and Abasov then he is through to the Semi-Finals to face Carlsen and as he has already qualified to the Candidates 2024 via the World Championship Runner-up spot then the next 3 in the event get a chance. So if Nepo is through to the top 4, then Pragg/Arjun will be through to the Candidates 2024. However, if Nepo doesn't make it to the semis, and in the worst case scenario the final four would be Carlsen, Abasov, Fabi/Dominguez and Pragg/Arjun. Imagine the Pragg/Arjun spot loses to Fabi/Dominguez in the Semis and then also for the 3rd-4th place match, then Carlsen is bound to finish in top 3. If that happens, then the Reserve Clause above kicks in which says If someone has qualified to the Candidates 2024 through the World Cup and withdraws from the Candidates, then this spot goes to player who finished 4th.

Amongst Arjun Erigaisi and Praggnanandhaa we most likely have our one spot to the Candidates 2024!

Do not forget!

This is just the first qualification tournament for the FIDE Candidates 2024. There is also the FIDE Grand Swiss, which is an Open tournament and top 2 finishers qualify to the Candidates and also the FIDE Circuit 2023.

 

Participants of the FIDE Grand Swiss

No. NameFideIDFEDRtg
1GMNakamura, Hikaru2016192USA2787
2GMCaruana, Fabiano2020009USA2782
3GMFirouzja, Alireza12573981FRA2777
4GMGiri, Anish24116068NED2769
5GMRapport, Richard738590ROU2752
6GMGukesh, D46616543IND2751
7GMAronian, Levon13300474USA2742
8GMDominguez Perez, Leinier3503240USA2739
9GMVachier-Lagrave, Maxime623539FRA2739
10GMGrischuk, Alexander4126025FID2736
11GMDuda, Jan-Krzysztof1170546POL2732
12GMAbdusattorov, Nodirbek14204118UZB2725
13GMVidit, Santosh Gujrathi5029465IND2723
14GMYu, Yangyi8603820CHN2721
15GMVitiugov, Nikita4152956FID2720
16GMDubov, Daniil24126055FID2716
17GMHarikrishna, Pentala5007003IND2711
18GMPraggnanandhaa, R25059530IND2707
19GMErigaisi, Arjun35009192IND2704
20GMMaghsoodloo, Parham12539929IRI2702

 

The FIDE Grand Swiss is going to be held in Isle of Man from the 25th of October 2023 to the 5th of November 2023.

This is the FIDE Circuit Leaderboard and Gukesh has good chances to make it via this spot. The cumulative points of the best 5 events of a player as on the end of the year 31st of December 2023 will be calculated.

This is the current rating list. By the time the next rating list is out, Gukesh would have made it to the top 10, so getting a rating spot is also not completely out of question here!
While the stakes are high and a spot in Candidates is really very precious to each chess player, you can see how Pragg values camaraderie off the board! He says in the interview, "Arjun and I will fight over the board, but are good friends off it!"

Just to note here. If Harika manages to win against Goryachkina today in the tiebreaks and reaches final 4, her chances of making it to the women Candidates tournament are also very high!
One Indian is likely to play at the Candidates 2024

Related news:
Five Indians in the Candidates 2024

@ 02/01/2024 by Shahid Ahmed (en)
Who has the best chance to make it to the Candidates via FIDE Circuit 2023?

@ 31/10/2023 by Prakhar Sinha (en)
FIDE reforms the qualifications paths to the Candidates Tournament

@ 17/12/2022 by ChessBase India (en)