Both in terms of money and value, the FIDE chess world cup is a very important event on the chess calendar. It happens 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 Candidates tournaments are far bigger matchups 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?
Chess world cup is important because it’s an opportunity for talented players to showcase their metal against the elite players. It’s a bigger pool elite tournament that gives qualifications to 2 players into the Candidates Tournament from the open category and 3 players from the women’s category.
This year, 206 players are playing in the open category and 64 in the women’s category of the FIDE chess world cup.
Besides the Grand Chess tour series and a few other tournaments, the elite chess players rarely play in any open tournaments mainly because of their high rating, they don’t want it to fall plus they don’t want to play in a tournament that doesn’t have a huge winning prize plus a good enough participation prize.
And the thing about grand chess tour kind of events is that they are invite-only tournaments. A 2600 rated GM can’t play in them because there is a lot of chess talent in the world. And 2600s are way below in the priority list to be invited to elite tournaments because they are not even top 200 players in the world.
This is where the FIDE chess world cup becomes prominent.
The top 2 finishers in FIDE World Cup qualify for the Candidates Tournament
In the last FIDE world cup, Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren finished top 2. They both qualified for the Candidates tournament. Although Teimour got replaced by Maxime Vachier Lagrave due to some misunderstanding between FIDE and Teimour on the CORONA virus situation.
But it is a fact. 2 of the 8 players playing in the 2nd most important chess event in the world qualify from the FIDE chess world cup.
The same is the case with the women’s category of the FIDE world cup. 3 of them will qualify for the inaugural FIDE Women’s Candidates tournament.
FIDE Chess World Cup is an opportunity for new talent to show up
Yes, that’s true. There is money, value and a big pool of players in the FIDE world cup. The young prodigies and established GMs above 2650 rating get a chance to show the world what they are made of.
Even below that rating, there are players in the FIDE chess world cup. Some qualify on merit while others are given wildcards, which is a good thing because FIDE wants federations and associations to get involved in chess and gives chances to players from countries that are too far from the bigger and broader chess scene.
Which elite players are playing in the FIDE world cup?
Top of the list is the world champion, Magnus Carlsen. He is there only to compete in a highly saturated event. Magnus is never afraid of challenges. And it’s a rare event that a world champion is 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 are playing in the FIDE world cup.
Although some top talents still don’t play in the FIDE world cup, a big pool of them are there and they often get surprised by much lower-rated players not because of a fluke but because that’s 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 are all super fighters and they all want to challenge Magnus for the world championship. But the thing is there only can be 8 Candidates, 2 of them are coming from the world cup. So why wouldn’t they play in such an important tournament? For them, the FIDE world cup is a ladder that gets them closer to the Candidates tournament.
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 is $676,000 and unlike men’s event, 3 women players will qualify for the women’s candidates event from here. This is also the inaugural women’s chess world cup.
103 female players are playing in the event and it’s an opportunity for many of them to play in a high-profile event for the 1st time. Saturation in the women’s event is far higher and no one exactly is the favourite to win the event. Whoever wins will go down in history to be the 1st winner of the female version of a chess world cup.
Which elite players are playing in the FIDE Women’s world cup?
Some top players from the women’s pool playing in the FIDE Women’s chess 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.