In the Magnus Carlsen Invitational 2020, Magnus Carlsen invited 7 of the world’s best players to compete with him in the first professional online chess tournament. However, I wasn’t able to find an explanation of why Magnus selected these particular players.

My initial thought was that he would more-or-less invite players from the 2020 Candidates Tournment. However, Wang Hao and Alexander Grischuk, who qualified for the Candidates Tournament, did not participate in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Alireza Firouzja, who was invited to the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, did not play in the Candidates Tournament.

My second thought was that Magnus would choose the top-rated players. This turned out not to be true, since, in April 2020, Alexander Grischuk, who was not invited, was #6 while Anish Giri, who was invited, was #10.

My final thought was that perhaps Carlsen just invited his friends. But this doesn’t seem to be the case, since, e.g., there seems to have been some friction between Carlsen and Giri.

On what basis did Carlsen invite players to this tournament?

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    I would not interpret too much into that twitter exchange. Might also be a cultural thing and what is normal for Dutch/Norwegians, might easily offend more sensitive cultures.... Apr 20, 2020 at 11:13
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    Probably like most other "invitational" events: Your parents talk to your friends' parents whether their kids have non-movable plans on that day (like vacation), then to your neighbourhood's parents, and if the expected number of kids is still too low, they might finally end up at the kids in your class you never really talk to. And only then you write the letters.
    – Annatar
    Apr 20, 2020 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


Magnus Carlsen had the major saying in the selection. There was no "objective" qualification of any kind, besides the hope to create an interesting line-up.

Firouzja was included because he beat Carlsen in the Banter Blitz Cup, so a "rematch" would attract many viewers.

Disclosure: I work for chess24. I wasn't involved in the decision process, and I can't publish everything I know about this.


Tania Sachdev asked Carlsen about his exact involvement in his eponymous tournament here around 4:41:40. Carlsen responded that he was involved

  • in the format, and especially the 4 games format, and
  • in the choice of the players. He added with a big smile "otherwise Anish [Giri] would have not been part of the tournament"!

Chess24 and PlayMagnus were also in charge.

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    Thanks for this! However, my understanding of what Magnus said there is different than yours. He said, "I definitely had a say in who to invite, otherwise our boy Anish might not have been part of the tournament". So, he said that he was involved in player selection, and that he suggested Giri.
    – hb20007
    Apr 23, 2020 at 9:03
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    @hb20007 Thanks a lot! I was victim of a confirmation bias related to their "twitter battle"! I updated my answer.
    – Kortchnoi
    Apr 23, 2020 at 9:22

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