From Wild Card to Candidate: Hikaru Nakamura


Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura won the 2022 FIDE World Chess Grand Prix, earning his spot in the 2022 Candidates. Nakamura was originally a “wild card” pick by FIDE to participate in the Grand Prix.

Wild Card

GM Hikaru Nakamura
GM Hikaru Nakamura

Before 2022, Nakamura’s last FIDE-rated game was in December of 2019. During the pandemic, Nakamura maintained his chess skills by playing online. In December of 2021, FIDE (International Chess Federation) announced that Nakamura was the Presidential nominee to play in the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix, February–April 2022.

In its news release, FIDE quoted the President Arkady Dvorkovich, who said of Nakamura: “Very strong and experienced, and popular among the fans, I believe he deserves a chance to fight. The chess community will be delighted to see him sitting at the chess board again.”

In December of 2021, Nakamura was ranked 21st in the world. Thanks to his performance in the FIDE Grand Prix, as of the live ratings on April 1, 2022, Nakamura is number 11 in the world.

Chess Position

Here is a position from Nakamura versus Grandmaster Levon Aronian, FIDE Grand Prix, March 25, 2022.


As I wrote in my previous SparkChess article,


According to the FIDE (International Chess Federation) rules“The two first players of the GP Series Final Ranking shall qualify to the FIDE Candidates Tournament” which will be in Madrid from June 16–July 7, 2022. FIDE has a website which tracks the World Chess Championship and the Women’s World Chess Championship cycles, from 2021–2023.

The two grandmasters who qualified to the Candidates from the 2022 FIDE World Chess Grand Prix are Richard Rapport (Hungary) and Hikaru Nakamura (United States). Nakamura earned more points within the Grand Prix than Rapport, so also becomes the 2022 FIDE World Chess Grand Prix Champion.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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