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Candidates Tournament, World Chess Championship, D Gukesh and his earnings – An Explainer

Last Updated on 03/05/24 0
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Chess champions of India

Last week was prestigious for Indian Chess. Dommaraju Gukesh had won Candidates chess tournaments. While we all are happy for his achievement and pride he has bought for the country, many of us are perplexed…

What is this Candidates chess tournament? And why is it so important to win that?

The answers lie in the way Chess gets its world champion. And it’s quite different.
Let’s understand that first.

How “The World Chess Champion” is decided?

In sports like Football and Cricket we have “World cups” happening at defined intervals, like 4 years. All the qualified teams play several matches into the tournament and eventually a couple of teams reach the finals. The one who wins the final match becomes the World champion in that sport.

It’s pretty much the same in individual sports like Tennis and Badminton too. Be that world cup or prestigious tournaments like Wimbledon. You have to win several matches in a tournament to become the world champion.

But chess is different.

Unlike other sports, the Chess world championship is played by only 2 players. Yes, you read that correctly, only two players.

One of the players is the existing world champion, or in other words, the winner of the last world championship. We call them defenders.

The defender will play the world chess championship to retain his/her title.

But that defender has a “Challenger”. Challenger is the one who challenges the defender….

Hey you…. You have enjoyed the world champion title for 2 years, enough, I am here to challenge you, give me that.

So that way, one match of 14 games will happen between the challenger and the defender to decide the new world champion.

Understood so far?

Now the next question, who can challenge the defender?

Everyone would want to become a world champion but a defender is not free to answer and play a match with every single player around.

Here comes the Candidates Chess Tournament

Simply known as candidates, is a tournament played between top 8 players.

Those 8 players are selected in following way…

  • The runner up of last chess world chess championship.
  • Top 3 finishers of last chess world cup
  • Top 2 finishers of last Grand Swiss Tournament
  • Highest place holder of FIDE circuit
  • Highest rating holder of the year

After matches between this 8, the tournament winner is decided and that candidates winner is our new crown prince aka the challenger.

Challenger plays against the Defender. And the defender will remain champion until someday a challenger beats him/her.

Hope it’s clear now!

How much D Gukesh has earned by winning the Candidates tournament?

The organisers pay 3,500 Euro for every half point a player scores in the tournament. Yes you earn this irrespective of your win or lose. Gukesh scored 9 points and that earned him 63,000 Euros.

Winner of the tournament receives a prize money of 48,000 Euros.

So in total he has earned around Rs 98 lakhs.

But wait, as mentioned earlier, Gukesh is our challenger and for sure he is going to play in the world championship to be held in the month of November 2024.

We passionately wish him to win the championship and beat the Chinese defender Ding Liren. But just as a matter of probability, even if he loses the championship, he will receive a sum of Rs 8 crore as prize money to become the runner-up. And Rs 10 crore if he wins.

So to sum up, Gukesh has earned around Rs 9 to 11 crores with this tournament, at age 17. Private gifts, fame and brand endorsements if he access would be extra.

But remember that he has given at least 12 years of his life and countless hours to practice chess. And if you passionately practice something that you love for several years, you also stand a very good chance of succeeding.

Who actually organises and how do they pay?

Chess is governed by the global body known as FIDE. This FIDE organises candidates, world championship and few other prestigious tournaments.

India is actively pursuing to host the world chess championship about to happen in November this year. It costs around 70-80 Crores to host this tournament that happens practically between just 2 players!

Majority of the money will go to FIDE. And the FIDE will pay the prize money out of that.

Hope this post has answered your questions about the chess tournaments and helped you learn a few new things. If so, share this with your friends and family for their benefit.


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