FIDE Announces New Knockout Format for Women’s Candidates

On Wednesday, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced a change in the format for the Women’s Candidates Tournament. Instead of mirroring the format of the general world championship cycle with a double round robin, the eight qualified players will play a series of knockout matches.

The eight players competing for the honor to challenge reigning Women’s World Champion GM Ju Wenjun are:

  • GM Aleksandra Goryachkina (runner-up at the FIDE World Championship Match 2020)
  • GM Humpy Koneru (top-two finisher in the 2021 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix)
  • GM Kateryna Lagno (top-two finisher in the 2021 FIDE Women’s Grand Prix)
  • GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (top-three finisher in the 2021 FIDE World Cup)
  • GM Tan Zhongyi (top-three finisher in the 2021 FIDE World Cup)
  • GM Anna Muzychuk (top-three finisher in the 2021 FIDE World Cup)
  • GM Lei Tingjie (winner of the FIDE Women’s Grand Swiss Tournament)
  • GM Mariya Muzychuk (highest-rated player on the FIDE January 2022 rating list)

The first stage of the event, which includes the quarterfinals and semifinals, will be held in October-November. Each match will consist of four games, plus possible tiebreaks. The players have been divided into two pools for this stage, and the quarterfinal pairings have been set:

Pool A

  • Koneru vs. A. Muzychuk
  • Lei vs. M. Muzychuk

  • Pool B

  • Goryachkina vs. Kosteniuk
  • Lagno vs. Tan

  • The final match will be played between the winner of each pool and will consist of six games, plus possible tiebreaks. It will take place in the first quarter of 2023.

    One of the competitors, Kosteniuk, tweeted about her thoughts on the change, as the new format―with the Ukrainian and Russian players designated to different pools―seems intended to prevent a Russia vs. Ukraine matchup before the final:

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