FIDE World Cup – A Detailed Guide

The FIDE World Cup is one of the most prestigious and exciting events in the world of chess. Organized by the World Chess Federation (FIDE), the tournament brings together some of the best players from around the globe to compete for the title of World Cup champion.

Tournament Format

The tournament follows a purely knockout format, with 128 players competing in seven single-elimination rounds of “mini-matches.” Each mini-match consists of two games followed by a series of rapid then blitz tiebreaks, if necessary. If the mini-match results in a draw, an Armageddon game is played to determine the winner.

In each round, every player initially plays two classical games against their opponent, one with white pieces and one with black.

The time control for each game is 120 minutes per side for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves, and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment per move starting from move 61.

How Important is the FIDE Chess World Cup?

Both in terms of money and value, the FIDE chess world cup is a very important event on the chess calendar.

It happens once every 2 years and some might think that it’s a “world cup” so it will be the biggest chess event in the world, but it’s not true.

The World Championship and the Candidates tournament are far bigger events than the FIDE Chess World Cup.

So what’s the significance of the FIDE chess world cup then?

Why is Chess World Cup an important event in Chess Calendar?

The Chess World Cup is a significant event as it provides talented players with the opportunity to showcase their skills against elite players.

It features a larger pool of participants compared to the elite tournaments and offers the chance for the winner and runner-up to qualify for the Candidates Tournament in the open category, as well as the top three players from the women’s category to qualify for the Women’s Candidates Tournament.

Last year, the FIDE Chess World Cup had 128 players from around the globe participating in the open category, and 64 players participating in the women’s category.

FIDE World Cup Draws Top Players (2700+ rated) to Compete Against the 2600s and Up-and-Coming Talents

Elite chess players rarely participate in open tournaments. They mostly play in big tournaments like the Grand Chess Tour series.

This is mainly due to their high rating, as they are wary of the possibility of their rating decreasing. Even a draw against a 2600-rated player can significantly affect the rating of a player rated 2750 or higher.

Furthermore, many open tournaments do not offer substantial prize money or participation rewards, making them unattractive to elite players.

However, the FIDE Chess World Cup is a significant exception to this trend. This tournament attracts top-rated players, with ratings of 2700 and 2800, as it presents an opportunity to qualify for the Candidates Tournament.

FIDE grants wildcard entries to players with ratings as low as in the ranges of 2400s and 2500s in the FIDE World Cup, to ensure representation from underrepresented world regions in the chess community.

The problem of Elite Chess Tournaments

Big chess tournaments like The Grand Chess Tour etc are invite-only tournaments, and as such, they feature only the best chess players.

A player with a 2600 rating cannot participate in these tournaments, as there are many talented chess players worldwide and 2600s are not even the top 200 in the world.

So they are too down in the priority list to be invited to the top tournaments.

Qualification to the Candidates Tournament from FIDE World Cup

The Candidates Tournament, the second most important chess event in the world, features eight players, two of whom qualify for the FIDE World Cup.

During the last FIDE World Cup, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Sergey Karjakin finished in the top two positions, earning them spots in the Candidates Tournament.

However, due to complications arising from the Russia-Ukraine war issue, Karjakin was later replaced by Ding Li Ren.

In the women’s category of the FIDE World Cup, three players qualified for the inaugural FIDE Women’s Candidates tournament.

FIDE World Cup: Providing a Platform for Emerging Talent to Showcase Their Skills

The FIDE World Cup presents an excellent opportunity for young prodigies and established GMs to demonstrate their skills on a global stage. The tournament attracts a vast pool of players, including those with lower ratings, who qualify on merit or receive wildcards.

FIDE’s decision to award wildcards is a commendable effort to promote the game in countries with limited exposure to the broader chess scene.

This approach encourages greater participation from federations and associations around the world, providing opportunities for talented players to gain recognition and exposure.

Which elite players played in the last FIDE world cup?

Top of the list was the world champion, Magnus Carlsen.

He was there only for the thrill of it. Magnus is never afraid of challenges. And it’s a rare case that a world champion was playing in the FIDE world cup.

Other than Magnus, from the elite chess players, Fabiano Caruana, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alireza Firouzja, and many other top chess players were playing in the FIDE world cup.

Despite the absence of some top talents, the FIDE World Cup still drew a significant number of skilled players, including many who surprised their opponents with unexpected victories.

These lower-rated players were not merely lucky; they had earned the opportunity to play against the best through their hard work and dedication. And it was the 1st chance they had received to play those top GMs.

The elite of the elite are in the FIDE chess world cup only because of the Candidates Tournament

2750+ rated super-GMs can’t be lured only for the money. They are the biggest fighters in the chess world. And they all want to be the best.

The ones we mentioned above among Magnus Carlsen are all super grandmasters. They all want to get into the Candidates’ tournament and qualify from there to the world championship and become world champions.

For them, the FIDE world cup is a ladder that gets them closer to the Candidates’ tournament and world championship title.

How important is the FIDE chess world cup Women’s Category?

The women’s event of the FIDE chess world cup is one of the rare high-prize chess events for women. The prize pool was $676,000 and unlike the men’s event, 3 women players qualified for the women’s candidates event.

2021’s event was also the inaugural women’s chess world cup.

103 female players played in the event and it was an opportunity for many of them to play in a high-profile chess tournament for the 1st time.

Saturation in the women’s event is far higher and no one exactly was the favorite to win the event.

Alexandra Kosteniuk won the women’s FIDE world cup 2021 and went down in history to be the 1st winner of the female version of a chess world cup.

Which elite players played in the inaugural FIDE Women’s world cup?

Some top players who played in the women’s FIDE world cup include:

  • GM Anna Muzychuk (UKR)
  • GM Harika Dronavalli (IND)
  • GM Tan Zhongyi (CHN)
  • GM Ju Wenjun (CHN)
  • GM Kateryna Lagno (RUS)
  • GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS)
  • GM Mariya Muzychuk (UKR)
  • WGM Aleksandra Maltsevskaya from the u20’s and
  • WGM Polina Shuvalova (RUS)

You can check the full list here.