Nepomniachtchi, Harikrishna Headline First Knockout Qualifier
August 12, 2019

With an open qualification process that began in April, the FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship now moves to the final qualification phase as it plays down to the final six players who will qualify for the quarterfinals to be played over-the-board in Norway in early October.

The first of six knockout qualifier will be hosted on this Sunday, Aug. 11, featuring some of the strongest players in the world including GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and GM Pentala Harikrishna who will headline a pack of sixteen players vying for their chance to qualify for the next phase, the live quarterfinals. You can watch coverage of the play-in tournaments at 8 a.m. Pacific, Aug. 11 on or with commentary by GM Aman Hambleton.

Pentala Harikrishna enters as the number 2 seed

The Fischer Random Chess Championship is recognized by FIDE, the international chess federation, and is hosted by Dund AS in partnership with

The championship seeks to crown the best Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) player in the world. All games will be played in the popular chess variant with shuffled starting positions, first promoted by the former world chess champion Bobby Fischer.

After hosting over 40 qualifiers which saw nearly two thousand players participate, the Fischer Random action speeds up even more as the first knockout bracket begins, featuring two-game mini-matches of 15+2 time control, with tiebreaks along the way to decide who moves on to the next round. Players will play the entire bracket over the course of a grueling five-hour span, their opponents growing in stature as the rounds wear on.

Nepo will look to capitalize on his fine form after winning the Moscow Grand Prix earlier this year

So far, the following top Fischer Random grandmasters are confirmed to participate as invited players in the six knockout tournaments:

  • Wesley So
  • Pentala Harikrishna
  • Peter Svidler
  • Alexander Grischuk
  • Ian Nepomniachtchi
  • Alireza Firouzja
  • Parham Maghsoodloo
  • Sergey Karjakin
  • Frode Urkedal
  • Vidit Gujrathi

In addition to the notable grandmasters participating in the Knockout Qualifiers, four players have qualified all the way from the initial phase, the open qualifier. These four underdogs will look to keep their cinderella stories alive as they now face the daunting task of taking on multiple grandmasters, some of whom are ranked in the top-50 players in the world.

Two more of the world's top grandmasters will be added to the later knockout tournaments, which continue weekly from Aug. 11 to Sept. 7.

You can watch all knockout tournament coverage live on with chess master commentary every Sunday beginning Aug. 11.

The full bracket for Sunday

The six survivors of the knockout brackets will join Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, who were seeded directly into the quarterfinals, already recognized as two of the strongest Fischer Random masters in the world.

Magnus Carlsen, the current world chess champion and unofficial champion of Fischer Random chess, will be seeded directly into the semifinals. Carlsen will face the top three finishers from the quarterfinals round as he looks to add the official Fischer Random crown to his greatest-of-all-time resume.

For more in-depth information on the FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship, including all titled player qualifiers, visit the official guide here.

For the official rules of the FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship, see this PDF.

Remember to watch all upcoming FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship coverage on starting this Sunday, Aug. 4 and continuing throughout the knockout phase until Sept. 7.