The Ultimate Guide to World Chess Championship

World Chess Championship is the elitist of elite chess tournaments in the world. It’s a show down of a series of matches between 2 best chess players in the world, organized every alternate year by the world chess federation shortly known as FIDE.

The one year gap in between is to find a suitable Candidate who can challenge the reigning world champion. This year the world chess championship is going to be played between Magnus Carlsen (the world champion) and the Candidate Ian Nepomniatchi in November at Dubai.

Matches will be played between 24 November and 16 December 2021.

Who qualifies for the World Chess Championship?

World Chess Championship is a show down between defending (current world champion) and the challenger (winner of the Candidates tournament) for the title of best chess player in the world.

8 players 1st need to qualify for the Candidates tournament via one of the following routes:

  • 2 from the FIDE World Cup (1st and 2nd finishers), if world champion wins it, then 2nd and 3rd qualify to Candidates and if world champion finishes 2nd in FIDE World Cup, then #1 and #3 finishers will qualify for the Candidates
  • 1 from The FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament
  • the top 2 finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix
  • a Wildcard entry
  • the highest rated player in classical chess, but if world champion is highest rated then the 2nd highest rated qualifies for the Candidates tournament
  • and a runner up of previous year’s World Championship

These 8 players play a round-robin tournament of every candidate playing against each candidate once with white and once with black pieces. And the highest points scorer at the end qualifies for the World Championship.

In case, 2 players finish on top with same score, the head to head high scorer in the Candidates tournament qualifies for the World Championship.

And even if that score is equal, there is a series of more games between the 2 players, followed up by Armageddon if the winner is still not decided.

Can Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Magnus?

Nepo absolutely can. He has a positive score against Magnus Carlsen in classical chess (4 wins 1 loss and 6 draws), but it could absolutely mean nothing. On the given day, the best prepared player will win. Though Ian is well capable of doing it.

The only thing that can go wrong for him is whether he will be able to absorb the pressure of World Championship or not? This is his 1st qualification and Magnus on the other hand has already played and beaten Anand, Karjakin and Caruana in World Championship matches and is sitting there on top since 2013.

Also, in last world championship, Caruana lost to Magnus because he was not well equipped for the Rapid games. Nepo unlike him can match Carlsen’s ability in all formats of chess.

In fact, if it went down to Rapids and Blitz, it is speculated that Nepo can actually go into advantage against Carlsen because he is a very quick player and the dynamism he brings to the board can slowdown any world class chess player.

Why is Magnus Carlsen Favorite to win the World Championship?

Magnus Carlsen is the favorite because he is world #1 in classical chess, #1 in Rapid chess and #2 in Blitz chess. He is the world champion since 2013 and the only GM currently rated above 2800 in classical chess.

Not only that but also Carlsen holds the record of remaining unbeaten for 125 straight classical games. Has won all the world championships he has ever played and is not seeming to slow down any sooner.

With the amount of experience he has in top level chess and the experience of playing every world championship since 2013, he is the favorite to win yet another title.

Carlsen’s strength can be better explained by his top competitors and you can watch some of the video clips below where Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik are explaining why Magnus Carlsen is so special?

How good is Ian Nepomniachtchi in all three formats of Chess?

Below is a table of Ian Nepomniatchi’s rating and world rank across all three formats of Chess:

Classical: 2792Rapid: 2798Blitz: 2776
Rank: 5Rank: 2Rank: 3

Nepomniatchi is very consistent in all 3 formats of Chess. Although lower ranked than Carlsen in all 3 formats, he comes out on top when the head to head record is compared in classical chess.

And unlike Fabiano Caruana, the last challenger to Magnus in world championship, Nepo is a top 10 player in all three formats of chess. That means, there is no way the game will get one sided if the world championship is not won and lost in classical event.

Another thing about Nepo is that he almost always blitz out in the opening. Be it classical, blitz or rapid format, Nepo’s preparation is always top notch and due to his dynamic style of play, it is difficult to take control of the board when Nepo is sitting next to you as an opponent.

The only weakness in his game is the occasional blunders. He is a results producing GM who like other top GM’s play a lot of drawn games, but the frequency of draws in Nepo’s games are lower than other top GMs.

World Chess Championship Format

There will be 14 classical games followed by Rapid and Blitz games if the scores in classical chess remained level. The time format for classical chess is 120 minutes plus 30 seconds increment on each move. After move 40, additional 60 minutes will be added to the clock for the next 20 moves followed by 15 more minutes for the rest of the game. Increment on every move will remain the same (30 seconds) from start to finish.

List of World Chess Champions (2006-present)

YearWinner Runner up
2006Vladimir KramnikVeselin Topalov
2007Viswanathan AnandVladimir Kramnik , Boris Gelfand
2008Viswanathan Anand Vladimir Kramnik
2010Viswanathan Anand Veselin Topalov
2012Viswanathan Anand Boris Gelfand
2013Magnus CarlsenViswanathan Anand
2014Magnus Carlsen Viswanathan Anand
2016Magnus Carlsen Sergey Karjakin
2018Magnus Carlsen Fabiano Caruana
2021Magnus Carlsen or Ian NepomniatchiMagnus Carlsen or Ian Nepomniatchi