Announcing the Lichess World Championship

It gives us great pleasure to announce the Lichess World Championship, an event that will be contested exclusively on With the announcement that FIDE has decided to open up the World Champion title to any organization that would like to run such a competition, it was only a matter of time until Lichess threw its hat in the ring, and we feel our World Championship can stand toe to toe with any of them! With the exception of a brief period in the 90s and early 2000s, there has usually only been one World Chess Championship contested at a time, a real missed opportunity for the sport. In the last few days the number of Chess World Championships has quickly ballooned to 3 and may soon exceed that, a sure sign of chess' exploding popularity.

The Lichess World Championship (Henceforth: "World Championship") will supplant what was formerly known as "Titled Arenas" and the title will be applied to Saturday's Titled Arena winner IM Minh Le, who becomes the 18th Chess World Champion, and joins the long proud tradition stretching through Carlsen, Kasparov, Fischer, Steinitz, and all the way back to Morphy. Speaking of which, we've also retroactively decided that Paul Morphy was World Champion too, because c'mon, it's Morphy! Former World Champion Magnus Carlsen will surely be kicking himself for deciding to skip the World Championship to play in a different event on Saturday. He likely only made this decision because it had yet to be announced as a World Championship. Sorry about that Magnus, we've just been busy and hadn't gotten around to it.

So how does the Lichess World Championship compare to the others? While the prize fund may be slightly less, there are numerous other advantages. Other World Championships are played at glacial time controls like 10+0 while ours zooms along at 3+0 and 1+0. Speaking of glaciality, other World Championships are only contested every 2 years while players get a shot at ours every 2 weeks!

WCTime ControlFormatBarrier to EntryMagnus participatesPrize Fund
FIDEHours and hoursOTBBe REALLY good at chessHe hasn't decided€2 million
Chess Com10+0 and 15+2Online + OTBpay to playProbably not$1 million
Lichess1+0 and 3+0OnlineHave a FIDE titleSometimes!Yes

The principal advantage of our way of awarding the World Champion title is, as has been discussed before, the arena format. Our children will one day scarcely believe us when we tell them that World Championships used to be decided with matches and round robins instead of the scientifically proven most fun chess tournament format. With no breaks in play for commercials, arenas also have the advantage of being the format most resistant to attracting corporate sponsorship.

Some naysayers may point out that The World Championship match is always the high-water mark for interest in chess and watering it down with a series of dueling World Championship titles could cause damage to the sport as a whole. What those people don't realize is how much money we're going to make off of this! Perhaps in the long term a World Championship schism will "kill the golden goose" as it were, but in the short term? I want a Jet Ski!

So tell us what you think! Which World Championship is your favorite, and why is it clearly ours? Perhaps you're interested in starting your own? The Next World Championship will be contested on May 7th with a 3+0 time control.

Lichess is a charity and entirely free/libre open source software.
All operating costs, development, and content are funded solely by user donations.