The tournament had a prize fund of €510,000 ($691,101). Prize money was shared between players tied on points; tiebreaks were not used to allocate it. The prizes for each place were as follows:
1st place – €115,000
2nd place – €107,000
3rd place – €91,000
4th place – €67,000
5th place – €48,000
6th place – €34,000
7th place – €27,000
8th place – €21,000
Before the tournament Carlsen was considered the favourite, with Kramnik and Aronian being deemed his biggest rivals. Ivanchuk was considered an uncertain variable, due to his instability, and the other players were considered less likely to win the event.
During the first half of the tournament, Aronian and Carlsen were considered the main contestants for first place. At the halfway point Carlsen had a half-point lead over Aronian. In the second half Kramnik, who had drawn his first seven games, became a serious contender after scoring four wins, while Aronian lost three games, and was thus left behind in the race. Carlsen started the second half by staying ahead of the field, but a loss to Ivanchuk allowed Kramnik to take the lead in round 12 by defeating Aronian. In the penultimate round Carlsen pulled level with Kramnik by defeating Radjabov, while Kramnik drew against Gelfand.
Before the last round Carlsen and Kramnik were the only players who had a shot at winning the tournament. Kramnik with black against Ivanchuk needed to outperform Carlsen, who had white against Svidler, to win the tournament, since the second tiebreak favoured Carlsen with five wins against Kramnik's four. (The first tiebreak, the head-to-head score between Carlsen and Kramnik, was 1–1.) Ivanchuk obtained an early advantage against Kramnik, while Carlsen got a level position against Svidler. Carlsen got into serious time trouble and did not defend adequately against Svidler's attack, which gave Svidler a winning endgame. Meanwhile, Ivanchuk had outplayed Kramnik, who resigned a few minutes after Carlsen lost. Thus the tournament was won by Carlsen on the second tiebreak.
Final standings of the 2013 Candidates Tournament
Prior to the match, from 2005 to 18 June 2013, Anand and Carlsen played 29 games against each other at classical time controls, out of which Anand won six, Carlsen won three, and twenty were drawn.
The match between Anand and Carlsen took place at the Hyatt Regency Chennai hotel in Chennai, India, from 9 to 22 November 2013, under the auspices of FIDE. Twelve classical games were scheduled, each starting at 3 pm local time (09:30 UTC). Rest days were to take place after games 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Had the match been tied after the 12th game on 26 November tie-break games would have been played on 28 November. As the match was decided before the 12th game, the remaining scheduled games were cancelled.
The time control for the games gave each player 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for moves 41–60 and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting after move 61. Tie-break games were meant to have increasingly limited time controls. Carlsen won $1.53 million while Anand received $1.02 million for this match.
Anand opened with 1.e4, and Carlsen responded with the Caro–Kann Defence, his first time doing so in a competitive game since 2011. Anand castledqueenside on move 14, which was followed by a knight exchange in the centre, after which Carlsen advanced his queen to d5 (see diagram). This enabled a trade of queens, and, to the surprise of commentators and the audience, Anand accepted it, rather than pressing forward with 18.Qg4. The resulting endgame was balanced; Anand exerted pressure on Carlsen's kingsidepawn shield with his rooks, eliciting a repetition of moves and a draw.
Carlsen opened with his king knight as in game 1, but played 3.c4, and Anand took the pawn on the next move. Anand gained some advantage in the middlegame when Carlsen had to retreat his queen to h1 and became short on time. However, with the temporary pawn sacrifice 28.e3 (which chess Grandmaster and commentator Sergei Shipov described as "the best known, boldest and most debatable" move of 2013), Carlsen opened the position and managed to reactivate his pieces. From then on Anand did not play the most aggressive moves (e.g. he chose 29...Bd4 instead of Bxb2; later 34...Rf8 was possible) but began to exchange pieces, and offered a draw after move 41, which Carlsen declined. After the exchange of queens, an opposite-colored bishops endgame was reached, and the players soon agreed to a draw.
Carlsen chose the solid Berlin Defence to the Ruy Lopez. He grabbed a pawn at move 18, and a complex position developed. Black remained a pawn up, but "Anand found a fantastic resource in 35.Ne4! which helped him to finally open up the black king and equalise the play."
Anand's 45...Rc1+ was called the decisive mistake, after which White was able to defend the a3-pawn, exchange bishops, and win a second pawn. Instead, 45...Ra1, attacking White's a3-pawn, would have kept the balance. With this win, Carlsen took a 3–2 lead.
After a solid opening, a series of exchanges brought about a heavy-piece endgame that was reckoned to be drawn. With 38.Qg3, Anand sacrificed a pawn in order to reach a drawn rook endgame, and a second pawn was sacrificed with 44.h5 in order to disconnect Black's kingside pawns. Carlsen continued playing and sacrificed both of his extra pawns in order to advance his f-pawn. The decisive error was 60.Ra4; instead, 60.b4 was suggested by analysts and chess engines as the only move that leads to a draw with best play, since the advancing b-pawn gives White queening threats that yield counterplay and make an exchange of rooks acceptable. After 60.Ra4, Carlsen's pawn sacrifice 60...h3 turned his f-pawn into a decisive passed pawn, and Anand resigned a few moves later.
In the opening, Anand exchanged his bishop for a knight, which led to a structure similar to that of the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez where Black has doubled pawns. Carlsen defended accurately, and after further exchanges the two players settled for a repetition of moves around move 30.
Carlsen opted for 1.e4 for the first time in the match and the game developed into a Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence in which he managed to trade pieces and reach a symmetrical position with a draw in 33 moves. Many were disappointed that Anand chose the Berlin Defence instead of trying a more combative opening, given that he was down two points. After the game, Anand said he "had not prioritised 1.e4" in his preparation. He also said that the match situation was "fairly clear" and that he would "liven it up" in the next game.
Anand played a sharp line against the Nimzo-Indian Defence that gave him attacking chances. Instead of 20.axb4, which according to Hikaru Nakamura "was not in the spirit of the position at all", either 20.a4 or 20.f5 were suggested as more promising continuations for White. Afterwards, Carlsen defended accurately, creating counterplay on the queenside, and ultimately queening his b-pawn with check while Anand was shifting his heavy pieces over to his mating attack. Anand should have answered 27...b1=Q+ with 28.Bf1. ChessBase gives the best line as 28.Bf1 Qd1 29.Rh4 Qh5 (Black must sacrifice his new queen in order to stave off checkmate) 30.Nxh5 gxh5 31.Rxh5 Bf5 32.Bh3 Bg6 33.e6 Nxf6 34.gxf6 Qxf6 35.Rf5 Qxe6 36.Re5 Qd6, which is probably a draw. Instead, Anand blundered with 28.Nf1 and resigned after 28...Qe1, since after 29.Rh4 Qxh4 30.Qxh4, Black emerges a rook up.
Anand played the Sicilian Defence, but with 3.Bb5+ Carlsen avoided the sharpest main lines. Anand's 28...Qg5 was a mistake, allowing Carlsen to play 29.e5 with strong pressure on Black's d6-pawn. Maintaining the tension with 30.Nc3, 30.Ng3, or 30.b4 should have given White a winning game, but Carlsen erred with 30.exd6, releasing the tension and allowing Anand to recoup the pawn soon after. The players traded down to a knight endgame where White had some advantage, and Carlsen may have missed a win by playing 43.Nd6 instead of 43.Nd2. The game ended in a draw due to insufficient mating material.
There were several changes and controversies in the process for choosing the challenger and hosts for the championship. A timeline is found below.
9 August. The All India Chess Federation was given a "first option" of three months following the 2012 World Chess Championship, to make a proposal for the organisation of the 2013 World Chess Championship.
19 September. FIDE published the rules, regulations and qualification criteria for the Candidates Tournament of the FIDE World Championship Cycle 2011–13.
21 February. FIDE announced negotiations with the Chess Network Company (CNC) and AGON for the World Championship Cycle. Media, web and software rights of the events of the World Championship Cycle were awarded to CNC. AGON was tasked with organising the events and securing the necessary sponsorship funds.
3 March. AGON awarded the Candidates Tournament dated 24 October – 12 November 2012 to London.
28 March. FIDE and AGON announced 13–31 March 2013 as new dates for the Candidates matches in London.
30 May. Anand won the 2012 World Chess Championship, thus qualifying for the 2013 World Chess Championship. His challenger during the 2012 World Chess Championship Boris Gelfand qualified for the 2013 Candidates Tournament.
30 August. Latest deadline for the All India Chess Federation to redeem the three-month option to make a proposal for the organisation of the 2013 World Chess Championship.
25 October.The Indian Express reported that the All India Chess Federation did not act during the three-month window provided by FIDE to exercise the "first option" to host the final. FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer commented that "the venue of the match will be decided when AGON, which has the rights and the obligation to organise the cycle, chooses and announces it."
1 April. Carlsen won the Candidates Tournament in London and thus qualified for the World Chess Championship.
8 April.Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu, India, announced that Chennai will host the 2013 World Chess Championship, and said that the event will have a budget of 290 million Indian rupees (around €4,000,000).
19 April. FIDE, the All India Chess Federation and the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding. FIDE Vice President Israel Gelfer said that the venue of the 2013 World Chess Championship would be set within 21 days.
3 May. Jøran Aulin-Jansson, the president of the Norwegian Chess Federation, sent an open letter of protest to FIDE, writing "We strongly urge FIDE to facilitate a procedure that enables other interested parties to bid for the [2013 World Chess Championship]." Just a few hours later Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, announced that the capital of France "is ready to host the  World Chess Championship", offering a budget of €3,446,280 and a prize fund of €2,650,000 (Chennai offered €2,576,280 and €1,940,000, respectively).
5 May. FIDE confirmed Chennai as the venue for the 2013 World Chess Championship.
6 May. Carlsen made a statement saying, "I'm deeply disappointed and surprised by the FIDE decision to sign a contract for the 2013 match without going through the bidding process outlined in the WC regulations, and for not choosing neutral ground. The bid from Paris clearly showed that it would be possible to have more options to choose from. The lack of transparency, predictability and fairness is unfortunate for chess as a sport and for chess players."
7 May. FIDE published a press release according to which on 24 January it and AGON "agreed not to open a bidding procedure, but to grant an option to India, as requested", and claiming that "FIDE tried its hardest to convince India to split the match [between India and Norway], but they refused."