Candidates tournament

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The candidate tournaments in chess serve the purpose of determining the challenger of the world chess champion.

Participants in the candidate tournaments are the "world champion candidates" who have reached the final and apply to challenge the world champion. (The term was occasionally used for other qualifying tournaments in chess, see German Candidates Tournament .)


In the history of chess there were several tournaments up to the Second World War , which in fact had the significance of a candidate tournament. In particular, the unofficial New York Candidates Tournament of 1927 and the AVRO tournament , which took place in the Netherlands in 1938, are among the forerunners .

The regular candidate tournaments , for which the participants had to qualify via a zone and interzonal tournament, were introduced by the World Chess Federation ( FIDE ) in 1950. This was based on the decision to determine the challenger of the (FIDE-selected) world champion in a three-year cycle. Until 1962, the candidates' tournament was a round-robin tournament that provided a certain number of participants who had to play several games against each other.

After his participation in 1962, the American grandmaster Bobby Fischer reprimanded a series of suspected manipulations by the Soviet participants, who had allegedly discussed game results against each other. After that, FIDE had the candidates' tournament played out in competitive form since 1965. This tradition of candidate competitions was interrupted in 1995. Against the background of the title split, the Braingames company again organized a candidates' tournament to determine the challenger to the “classic world champion” Vladimir Kramnik , which took place as part of the Dortmund Chess Days and was won by Péter Lékó . FIDE later abolished its controversial knockout world championships and returned to the classic form of the candidate tournaments as round-robin tournaments.

Candidates tournaments 1950 to 1962

cycle competition winner
World Cup 1951 Budapest 1950 David Bronstein , Isaak Boleslawski
World Cup 1954 Zurich 1953 Vasily Smyslow
World Cup 1957 Amsterdam 1956 Vasily Smyslow
World Cup 1960 Bled, Zagreb, Belgrade 1959 Mikhail Tal
World Cup 1963 Curacao 1962 Tigran Petrosian

Candidate competitions 1965 to 1993

After the 1962 reform, the candidates competed in a knockout system . There were eight candidates up to the 1984 cycle, after which the number was increased to 16. The loser of the previous World Championship match and the losing finalist of the previous candidate competition were given free places; from the 1987 cycle onwards also the semi-finalists. In the 1987 and 1990 cycle, a participant nominated by the organizer was added. The remaining participants qualified in interzonal tournaments . The 1987 cycle was a special case : Here the 16 participants first held a round-robin tournament, after which the four best placed players competed against each other in a knockout system. The winner ( Andreï Sokolov ) competed in a "superfinal" against Anatoly Karpov , who was defeated at the 1986 World Cup , which was scheduled outside of the three-year cycle .

cycle winner Final opponent Semi-finalists Other participants
World Cup 1966 Spassky valley Geller , Larsen Ivkov , Keres , Portisch , Smyslow
World Cup 1969 Spassky Korchnoi Larsen, valley Geller, Gligorić , Portisch, Reshevsky
World Cup 1972 Fisherman Petrosian Larsen, Korchnoi Geller, Huebner , Taimanow , Uhlmann
World Cup 1975 Karpov Korchnoi Petrosyan, Spassky Byrne , Mecking , Polugajewski , Portisch
World Cup 1978 Korchnoi Spassky Polugajewski, portic Hort , Larsen, Mecking, Petrosjan
World Cup 1981 Korchnoi Huebner Polugajewski, portic Adorján , Petrosjan, Spasski, Tal
World Cup 1984 Kasparov Smyslow Korchnoi, Ribli Beliavsky , Huebner, Portisch, Torre
World Cup 1987 Karpov * Sokolov Yusupov Timman , Vaganian ; another twelve participants in the 1985 Candidates Tournament
World Cup 1990 Karpov ** Timman Yusupov, Speelman Quarterfinals: Hjartarson , Portisch, Short , Spraggett.
Round of 16: Ehlvest , Kortschnoi, Salow , Sax , Seirawan , Sokolov, Vaganian
World Cup 1993 Short Timman Yusupov, Karpov ** Quarter-finals: Anand , Gelfand , Ivanchuk , Korchnoi.
Round of 16: Dolmatow , Drejew , Hübner, Judassin , Nikolić , Sax, Speelman
* Karpow was placed directly in the final ("Superfinale").
** Karpov was placed directly in the second round (quarter finals).

Candidate competitions during the division of the world championship from 1994 to 2005

The Professional Chess Association (PCA), newly founded as a rival organization to FIDE , led by Garry Kasparov , from whom FIDE withdrew the world championship title at the green table , resumed the tradition of candidate competitions and organized a competitive tournament to determine Kasparov's next challenger in the 1995 World Chess Championship according to the old pattern. At the 2000 World Chess Championship there was no regular qualification; World champion Kasparov chose his opponent Vladimir Kramnik himself. For the 2004 World Chess Championship, the sponsor Einstein Group identified the challenger in a candidates' tournament.

After Kasparov's disqualification, FIDE held a separate World Chess Championship in 1993 , in which the losers of the Candidates Tournament Karpov and Timman competed against each other. Karpov won this duel and was declared FIDE world champion. The regulations were changed for the 1996 FIDE World Cup: the reigning title holder Karpov himself had to take part in the candidates' tournament. However, he was placed directly in the semi-finals. What used to be the candidate final was now considered a world championship match. At the following FIDE World Chess Championships, there were no more candidate tournaments at all. There were tournaments in the knockout system.

cycle winner Final opponent Semi-finalists Other participants
World Cup 1995 (classic) Anand Kamsky Adams , Short Gulko , Kramnik , Romanyschyn , Tiviakov
World Cup 1996 (FIDE) Karpov * Kamsky Gelfand, Salow Quarter-finals: Anand, Kramnik, Timman
Round of 16: Adams, Chalifman , Judassin, Jussupow, Lautier , van der Sterren
World Cup 2004 (classic) Lékó Topalow Bareev , Shirov Adams, Gelfand, Lutz , Morosewitsch
* Karpov was placed straight into the semi-finals. The final of the tournament was also the world championship.

Candidate competitions 2007 to 2011

With the 2006 World Chess Championship , a duel between the “classic” world champion Kramnik and FIDE world champion Topalow, the division of the world championship title was ended. Since then, FIDE has gradually returned to realizing the recognized candidate struggles.

For the 2007 World Chess Championship , which was a round-robin tournament, four of the eight participants qualified through candidate competitions. These four participants were determined in the knockout system from the ten best placed in the 2005 World Chess Cup and six other players.

In the World Chess Championship 2010 , the challenger was in a so-called challenger match ( Challenger Match determined), which corresponded to a candidate finale. Wesselin Topalow, who was compensated for not being able to take part in the 2007 World Cup as originally planned , and Gata Kamsky, the winner of the 2007 World Chess Cup, qualified . Topalow prevailed.

With the 2012 World Chess Championship , FIDE returned to the previous tradition of knockout candidate competitions. Four games were played in the first two rounds and six games in the final. The very high draw quota of the Candidates' tournament was criticized : Of 30 games with normal reflection time , 27 ended in a draw, sometimes after just a few moves. Most competitions were therefore only decided in the tie-break with a shorter reflection period. Silvio Danailow , manager of Wesselin Topalow, who was eliminated in the first round, then demanded that the Sofia rule should also apply to the candidates' tournament in the future . He was countered that the goal of the players was to qualify for the World Cup, and in a competition over only a few games, any mistake could mean the end. Every player must have the right to choose the competitive strategy that he believes will be most successful.

cycle winner Final opponent Semi-finalists Other participants
World Cup 2010 Topalow Kamsky - -
World Cup 2012 Gelfand Grishchuk Kamsky, Kramnik Aronjan , Məmmədyarov , Rəcəbov , Topalov

Candidates tournaments since 2012

Since 2012 (2013 World Cup), the candidate tournaments have again been held as round-robin tournaments.

cycle competition winner
World Cup 2013 London 2013 Magnus Carlsen
World Cup 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk 2014 Viswanathan Anand
World Cup 2016 Moscow 2016 Sergei Karjakin
World Cup 2018 Berlin 2018 Fabiano Caruana
World Cup 2020 Yekaterinburg 2020

Web links

Wiktionary: Candidates' tournament  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Bobby Fischer : Chess in chess. The staged game of the Russians. October 10, 1962. In: Der Spiegel , 41/1962, pp. 94-97. On, accessed on February 4, 2019 ( PDF ; 520 kB).
  2. Peter Doggers: Kazan: the aftermath. FIDE Candidates Matches 2011. May 28, 2011. From, accessed February 4, 2019.