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Candidates 2022: Firouzja & Caruana have qualified

We have now started a page about the world championship match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen which starts on Friday in Dubai.

Whoever wins that match will have to defend the title in 2023 against the winner of the next Candidates tournament, while a parallel cycle will determine the next challenger for the current women's world champion, Ju Wenjun of China.

Meanwhile, the battle between the world's other top players is well advanced to decide the identity of the eight players who will contest the 2022 Candidates tournament (to be played about a year from now). That in turn will decide the challenger for the 2023 World Championship match.

After the conclusion of the FIDE Grand Swiss tournament in Riga in mid-November, five of the eight players are known. 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja won the tournament outright, while Fabiano Caruana (who was Carlsen's challenger in 2018) finished second on tie-break ahead of Russian GM Grigory Oparin. There were no playoffs in this tournament. The players placed 3rd to 8th (including Oparin) earn places in the 2022 Grand Prix series.

The Candidates qualifiers so far are:

Jan Krzysztof Duda (Poland) qualified by virtue of winning the 2021 FIDE World Cup.

Sergey Karjakin (Russia), the runner-up in the World Cup, also qualifies thereby. Karjakin was Carlsen's challenger in the 2016 World Championship match, tieing the main match 6-6 but losing in the rapid play-off.

Teimour Radjabov (Armenia) has been granted the wild card place which is at FIDE's discretion. Radjabov had qualified for the 2020 Candidates but declined to travel to Russia when the Covid pandemic broke out. When that tournamnet (which was suspended half-way) was due to restart, Radjabov asked to be included but instead was promised the 2022 vacancy.

Alireza Firouzja (France, formerly Iran) won the Grand Swiss outright with 8/11. Since then he won the gold medal for top board in the European Team Championship and has broken 2800 in the live ratings, at a younger age than Magnus Carlsen did. Heis currently the number two rated player in the world.

Fabiano Caruana (USA) who scored 7.5/11 to be runner-up in the Grand Swiss.

The sixth 2022 Candidate will be known when the World Championship match ends. Whoever loses the contest between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi is guaranteed a spot to try again in the next cycle.

The last two qualifiers will not be known until well into next year. These spots will be awarded to the two most successful players in the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix tournament series, the structure of which is complicated but involves three tournaments, with each player competing in two of them.

The rules do state that the world champion cannot play in these tournaments and those already qualified for the candidates also cannot play (unless they give up their places), so the Grand Prix will be a fair fight between those grandmasters still seeking qualification.

Since there are no Candidates places decided by rating this time, we can expect that such high-rated GMs as Ding Liren and Anish Giri, along with the qualifiers from Riga, will compete and make the GP events much more exciting than they were last time around. Twelve players qualify from the December FIDE rating list and there is also a FIDE President's nominee and an organiser's nominee.