The 2023 FIDE World Chess Championship is poised to be the most exciting yet. GM Magnus Carlsen was able to win his sixth title, joining the ranks of other legendary players with the most world titles – Emanuel Lasker, GM Anatoly Karpov and GM Garry Kasparov.
In addition, the world got to see the epic battle between the world’s top chess player and the world’s top chess streamer, GM Hikaru Nakamura. Another way chess fans could witness would be the thrilling clash of generations between Carlsen and prodigy GM Alireza Firouzja.
While we don’t know all the details of the next World Cup game, we do know one thing – there’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s what we know so far about WCC 2023:
The 2023 World Chess Championship match will be between current world champion Magnus Carlsen and the winner of the 2022 Candidates Tournament – at least on paper.
After his fifth successful title defense, Carlsen said he would only have one more World Championship match to play if his opponent was young prodigy GM Alireza Firouzja. While many believe Carlsen’s statement was nothing more than an empty comment from a weary champion, months later a rested Carlsen reiterated his unwillingness to play in another World Cup game.
Assuming Carlsen plays, one in eight candidates will challenge him for the title in 2023. Seven players have already secured their place in the 2022 candidates. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi has qualified to take part in the 2021 World Chess Championship. FIDE invited GM Teimour Radjabov after the Azerbaijani qualified for the previous candidates but refused to play due to COVID.
GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda has earned his spot after winning the 2021 FIDE World Cup. GMs Firouzja and Fabiano Caruana qualified after placing first and second at the FIDE Grand Swiss 2021. GMs Nakamura and Richard Rapport qualified as champions and runners-up of the FIDE Grand Prix 2021.
Last place belonged to GM Sergey Karjakin for his performance during the 2021 World Championship. However, FIDE’s Ethics and Disciplinary Committee banned Karjakin for six months after the player publicly supported the invasion of his native country, Ukraine. Although the grandmaster claimed he saw no point in reversing the decision, the Russian news agency Tass reported on April 6 that Russia’s chess chief had appealed Karjakin’s suspension.
If Karjakin’s suspension is confirmed, the remaining spot will go to the top-rated player, currently GM Ding Liren, from May 2022. Ding, who had not played the at least 30 classical games to qualify between June 2021 and May 2022 before FIDE announced Karjakin’s suspension, quickly began competing in Chinese tournaments. The super grandmaster finally played his 30th rated game on April 22 and is now eligible to play in the Candidates Tournament.
In qualifying for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Ding Liren just finished his 26th ranked game in four weeks. He is now officially eligible for the #FIDECandidates!https://t.co/giGyZCv49U pic.twitter.com/DUiMLdlnzk
— Chesscom Live (@ChesscomLive) April 22, 2022
What happens if Carlsen doesn’t play
If Carlsen keeps his promise not to play at the next World Cup, he will lose his world title. FIDE has not published updated regulations for the next World Championship game, so it is impossible to know who would take the throne.
The only time in history where a similar scenario happened was in 1975 when GM Bobby Fischer refused to play in a world title match. FIDE stripped Fischer of his title and gave it to his potential challenger, GM Anatoly Karpov.
However, as GM Jon Ludvig Hammer pointed out, FIDE regulations for the 2021 WCC were different from 1975. If FIDE keeps the regulations unchanged for this year, the new World Champion will not be the winner of the 2022 Candidates Tournament. but the winner of a match between the candidate champion and the runner-up of the tournament.
If Magnus decides not to contest the 2023 match, the winner of the Candidates Tournament will not be declared World Champion. (If FIDE follows the same rules as this year.) pic.twitter.com/Cr5uneeWsf
— Jon Ludvig Hammer (@gmjlh) December 14, 2021
Below are some stats for the 2023 World Chess Championship.
Carlsen’s result against the field:
Carlsen has an impressive score in classical games against the candidate field. With 52 wins, 117 draws and 18 defeats (as of April 13), the dominance of the world champion is undeniable:
Carlsen’s first moves in World Championship matches:
|As Black against 1.e4|
|As Black against 1.d4|
|As Black against 1.c4|
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich stated during WCC 2021 that the next World Championship match would take place in early 2023. FIDE has not yet published the official schedule.
FIDE has not published the full regulations of the WCC 2023. However, they confirmed that the match will be similar to the previous one, in which Carlsen and the Nepomniachtchi played 14 classic games, with the first player to reach 7.5 points winning. If the match was still tied after the 14 classic games, a quick/blitz tiebreak would have decided the champion.
The last World Cup game between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi had many memorable moments. While Carlsen maintained his dominance around the board with an impressive 7.5-3.5 score, another notable feat happened off the board.
Led by the “Sofaboys” IM Danny Rensch and GMs Robert Hess and Caruana, the 2021 WCC show broke viewership records. Chess.com’s coverage racked up more than 25 million views during the championship, the highest of any chess event in history.
In 2023, Chess.com coverage of the World Chess Championship will be even bigger and better. We will publish further details here in the future.
Officially World chess championship matches have a long tradition, the first taking place in 1886. Wilhelm Steinitz defeated Johannes Zuckertort and became the first official world champion. After him, Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine and GM Max Euwe defeated the reigning world champion and took the title. Alekhine eventually regained his title from Euwe and later died while still occupying the throne.
After Alekhine’s death, GM Mikhail Botvinnik became the next world champion. Botvinnik lost and regained his title twice, first to GM Vasily Smyslov and then to GM Mikhail Tal. Botvinnik lost his title again – this time forever – in a match against GM Tigran Petrosian.
GM Boris Spassky defeated Petrosian to become world champion. In 1972, GM Bobby Fischer defeated Spassky in the Match of the Century, ending Soviet hegemony – if only for a brief moment.
Fischer refused to play a match against Karpov to defend his title after FIDE refused to comply with his demands. Karpov was then declared world champion and retained his title for 10 years before losing it to GM Garry Kasparov.
After defeating Karpov in three consecutive matches, Kasparov made demands for his next World Championship match, which FIDE refused. Kasparov then left FIDE and founded another international chess organization, the Professional Chess Association (PCA). From 1993 to 2006, the world title was shared, with the PCA and FIDE both organizing world championship matches.
FIDE Champions include Karpov, GMs Alexander Khalifman, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Veselin Topalov. However, these titles are controversial for several reasons.
During the same period, Kasparov successfully defended his title against GMs Nigel Short and Anand, but lost it to GM Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik is the 14th world champion.
Kramnik defended his title against GM Peter Leko and subsequently won a “reunion match” against Topalov. After this event, FIDE again took sole control of the World Championship games. The Russian retained his title until Anand took his place in 2007.
Anand won the next three league games but lost his title to Carlsen. Since then, the Norwegian has retained his crown by beating Anand in 2014, Karjakin in 2016, Caruana in 2018 and Nepomniachtchi in 2021.
Read this article to learn more about all world champions.