Eight of the world’s top grandmasters will meet in Madrid from Thursday with a trip to the World Online Chess Championship as they compete in the Candidates Tournament 2022.
The double round robin winner will potentially face Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship next year.
Carlsen undecided on title defense
To be clear, the winner will earn a place in the next league game. The question is whether Carlsen will participate or not. Since beating Ian Nepomniachtchi at the 2021 World Championship, Carlsen has repeatedly said he’s leaning towards not defending his title unless his next opponent presents a new and interesting challenge.
Carlsen pointed to young wonderkid Alireza Firouzja as an opponent who could motivate him for another game. If Carlsen drops out, the top two of the Candidates Tournament will fight for the title.
|2022 Candidates Tournament Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Ding Liren: +200||Fabiano Caruana: +250|
|Alireza Firouzja: +400||Hikaru Nakamura: +800|
|Ian Nepomniashchi: +800||Jan-Krzysztof Duda: +1000|
|Richard Report: +2000||Teimour Radjabov: +3500|
Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren enters the Candidates Tournament as the favorite to win the event. DraftKings Sportsbook lists Ding as a +200 pick, just ahead of American (and former championship challenger) Fabiano Caruana, who sits at +250.
It’s not just bettors who see Ding as a favorite for the tournament. Recently, former world champion and chess legend Garry Kasparov told Anna Rudolph that he considered Ding the best choice to win the Candidates Tournament as well.
“Why?” Kasparov said. “Just watch his matches.
Candidates Tournament Contenders Depth
Kasparov also highlighted Caruana as a threat due to his previous World Chess Championship experience. He also praised Jan Krzysztof Duda, the young grandmaster from Poland who has played well over the past two years in a variety of live and online events, especially against Carlsen himself.
Duda enters the Candidates Tournament as a +1000 pick, but remains confident.
“Since I was six or seven, I was convinced that one day I would become world champion,” Duda told Dawid Czerw for Chess.com. “It was pretty obvious to me.”
Alireza (+400) is the most fascinating candidate in the Candidates Tournament. At only 18 years old (he will turn 19 during the tournament), many fans and experts believe that Alireza will sooner or later become world chess champion. He comes in with a realistic chance of winning the event, although his relative lack of experience means he’s not the favorite this time around.
Another fan favorite is American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura (+800), who has spent more time streaming chess than playing chess in recent years. Nakamura made his way into the field by winning the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix, and although he is currently ranked No. 11 in the world, he was once No. 2.
The Candidates Tournament ends on July 5, when players will face off in tiebreakers, if necessary. As well as a spot in the World Championship, players are also competing for €500,000 ($520,000) in prize money, with the winner taking home a base prize of €48,000 ($50,000) plus bonuses. performance based on each player’s score.