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Who has the best chance to make it to the Candidates via FIDE Circuit 2023?

by Prakhar Sinha - 31/10/2023

The FIDE Candidates is scheduled to be held in April 2024 in Toronto, Canada. There are 8 spots in the open section and one of them will be decided by the FIDE circuit 2023. This will be decided on the 1st of January 2024. What is the FIDE circuit? Who are the players who have the best chance? And what are the events remaining in the year? Check out this article to get all your questions answered.A

The regulations of FIDE circuit 2023

The idea of the circuit is to award a candidates spot to a player who has strong performance during the course of an entire year. The way the rules work, is that players get points for performance in tournaments depending on where they finish and how strong the tournament is.  The points are awarded in a tournament in this fashion - top 8 players score 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 base points and the base points scores are multiplied by a tournament strength factor, where tournament strength factor = (Average rating of top 8 players – 2500)/100. So for eg. a tournament has a rating average of 2600 of top 10 players then 2600-2500/100 = 1. And so the winner of this tournament would get only 10 points. 


The top 5 scores of each player over the course of a year is what counts to your total. If you score a higher score in a 6th eligible event, then the lowest score of your 5 events is replaced by the 6th event score. For an event to be eligible, it needs to have more than 2550 average rating of the top 8 players, not more than 50% of the players can be from 1 federation (except national championships) in addition to other minor criteria. 


Rapid and Blitz tournaments are also eligible but they respectively offer 0.6x and 0.4x the points of a classical tournament of the same strength. The winner of the FIDE circuit 2023 will be decided on the 1st of January 2024.

Current standings

The current standings of the circuit

The two players who have the maximum chances of getting the Candidates spot through the FIDE circuit - Anish Giri and Gukesh at the Qatar Masters 2023 | Photo: Aditya Sur Roy

Gukesh is on top of the standings as it stands! However, we could argue that that Anish is actually better placed to win. This is because Anish’s lowest score of the 5 events is 2.0. So any new event where he scores more than 2 points helps him increase his total score. If he scores more than 5.7 points in any of the events, then he overtakes Gukesh (assuming Gukesh doesn’t improve his score). On the other hand, Gukesh needs a score of 12.2 to improve his score, which is much tougher than scoring 5.7. 

One cannot discount Wesley So from the race | Photo: Grand Chess Tour

Wesley is closer to Gukesh than Anish, but his lowest event is only 13.6, so he needs a score of 14.3 to overtake Gukesh.  On the face of it, Arjun, and Abdusattorov are far away, i.e. 17.5 and 25.3 away from Gukesh, but they still have a realistic chance. That is because Arjun has 2 very low scores - 4.9 and 8.3, which is an advantage as they can easily be replaced helping him boost his score. Similarly, Abdusattorov has only used 4 of his 5 event quotas, so he has a free event to add. His lowest score is only 2 points. So he effectively has 2 almost free events to add to his score!

Don't discount these two youngsters. If there is someone who can make the impossible possible, it's these young champions! | Photo: Tata Steel Chess 2023

Tournaments left

While any tournament with average top 8 player strength >2550 counts for the circuit, the points of offer will be low and irrelevant unless this average rating is at least 2650 for top 8 players. So considering this, there are a few tournaments which are definitely eligible.

The FIDE Grand Swiss is currently happening at the Isle of Man | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Grand Swiss right now has points from 3rd place (18 points) to 8th place (5.2 points). This is because the top 2 directly qualify for candidates making this irrelevant. For Sinquefield cup and St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, only the top 5 score points because in closed events, only players in top 50% can score points. Anish and Wesley have a huge advantage because they are playing both these GCT events. Anish specially, can easily overtake Gukesh’s current score with a top half finish.

The Sinquefield Cup and Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz 2023 will provide a huge opportunity to Anish Giri and Wesley So to get ahead on the FIDE circuit leaderboard | Photo: Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz

Finally the year ends with World Rapid and Blitz 2023! Assuming same average rating as last year, these tournaments can easily give 15+ points for top 3 in Rapid and winner in Blitz, despite lower point multiplier for rapid and blitz events. How fun would it be if a candidate is decided by who wins World Rapid?

Magnus Carlsen is the current defending World Champion of the Rapid and Blitz formats | Photo: FIDE

Then there are potential open tournaments, of which one that we know is strong is Ellobregat. Arjun is currently registered to play and it would be in Gukesh and Abdusattorov’s best interest to play too, which would increase the ratings and make it attractive for all.

Starting rank of Ellobregat Open 2023

No. NameFideIDFEDRtgRtgIsexClub/City
1GMErigaisi, Arjun35009192IND27122712AICF
2GMVallejo Pons, Francisco2205530ESP26802680Stadium Casablanca
3GMAlekseenko, Kirill4135539AUT26702670Austria
4GMShirov, Alexei2209390ESP26552655Silla
6GMPichot, Alan110973ESP26502650Magic Extremadura
7GMAryan, Chopra5084423IND26342634AICF
8GMMendonca, Leon Luke35028561IND26222622AICF
9GMTer-Sahakyan, Samvel13302531ARM26182618Armenia
10GMSafarli, Eltaj13402129AZE26122612Azerbaijan
11GMYuffa, Daniil24131423ESP26062606Silla
12GMSanal, Vahap6300545TUR26032603Türkiye
13GMSethuraman, S.P.5021596IND25982598AICF
14GMPultinevicius, Paulius12809390LTU25862586Lietuva
15GMJumabayev, Rinat13702661KAZ25852585Kazakhstan
16GMNasuta, Grzegorz1141686POL25852585Poland
17GMAlbornoz Cabrera, Carlos Daniel3518736CUB25822582Tajamar
18GMDaneshvar, Bardiya12576468IRI25812581Iran
19GMPeralta, Fernando105309ARG25802580CE Valls
20GMAditya, Mittal35042025IND25722572AICF

Complete list


Ding Liren was supposed to play in Sinquefield Cup, but has since been replaced by Leinier Dominguez Perez  as a wild card. While completely understandable that the organizers would give a wild card to a local player, one can’t help but think how much fun it would have been if all of the top 3 had the opportunity to battle it out in a super tournament with a candidates spot on the line. FIDE circuit is set to come to a very exciting end. Who do you think will win it?

This entire FIDE circuit regulations and qualification is explained in this video interview of Prakhar

About the author

Hi, I am Prakhar Sinha. I am an engineer and an MBA, and work as a management consultant. Born and brought up in Ranchi, did my engineering in Delhi, MBA in France and now work in London. I am a huge sports fan and love chess, football, F1 and most other sports. You can get to know more about me via Twitter.

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