Black and White – An insight about FIDE Candidates Tournament 2016

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The Candidates Tournament is a chess tournament organized by FIDE since 1950, as the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship. The winner of the Candidates earns the right to a match for the World Championship against the incumbent World Champion.

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The Candidates Tournament is traditionally considered to be the most important part of the FIDE World Chess Championship cycle. It is being held from 11–28 March 2016 in Moscow, Russia, with support from the Russian Chess Federation. The Prize Fund for the event (including the FIDE fee) is EUR 420,000.

The selection for Candidates Tournament isn’t easy, and there are different criteria based on which players qualify. The 8 players who qualified for Candidates 2016 tournament and their qualification paths are mentioned below.

FIDE Candidates Tournament 2016
FIDE Candidates Tournament 2016

The tournament will be contested as a double round-robin over 14 games which means that all the players will be facing each other with white as well as black pieces. There will be four rest days after Rounds  3, 6, 9, and 12. The winner of this 8-player Candidates Tournament will be the challenger for the 2016 World Chess Championship against Magnus Carlsen, the 2 time reigning champion.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to a chess players’ play apart from his ability of processing moves. Chess needs a lot of patience, and being seated at one place for extended hours isn’t easy. It needs a lot of physical fitness and mental strength to overcome the rigors of this Super Grand Master level tournament.

This tournament has very strong players and 6 of them are the Top 10 in the world at the moment. Yet, we have prepared a list of favorites and the questions they may pose to the current champion Magnus Carlsen if they win Candidates 2016.

  • Hikaru NakamuraHikaru Nakamura – Nakamura has always been a phenomenally talented player. Though he is now ranked No. 6, he is in practice the second-best player in the world at the moment. He is quite consistent and is capable of playing many different openings and in many different styles; and that makes him the toughest mentally among the competitors in the Candidates. He also has an on-board rivalry with Magnus. If Hikaru wins the Candidates 2016, we would witness another Bobby Fischer Vs Boris Spaasky like WCC match (1972) which would be full of action, excitement and drama, on and off the board.
  • Vishwanathan AnandVishwanathan Anand – Anand has been among the world’s elite for a quarter-of-a-century and he has piled up victories in every single major tournament. He was the undisputed World Champion from 2007 to 2013, and successfully defended the title in three grueling matches against seasoned challengers. With his experience, maturity, impressive resume, and favorable match-ups, he is the second most likely player to win the tournament, after Nakamura. If he should win, he would pose the most significant problems to Magnus, despite having lost two straight matches to him, and despite their age difference. In a third match, Anand would be even tougher and hungrier for revenge.
  • Anish GiriAnish Giri – Giri was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and was introduced to the game in the classic Russian school of chess. By the time his family moved to Europe, and Giri started representing the Netherlands, he was among the most talented youngsters in the world. He quickly became a Grandmaster, noted for having a very sharp eye for tactics and a constantly evolving opening repertoire. Despite his youth, it could be easily argued that he makes fewer mistakes than any of the other top players in the world. He also has a better score against Magnus Carlsen in the classical format of chess which put him in the driver’s seat psychologically, in the event of a match between them.
  • Levon AronianLevon Aronian – Levon Aronian is an Armenian chess player, ranked #4 in the international rating and one of the most experienced Candidates tournament participants. Levon, is one of the hot favorites to win the Candidates tournament. He matches up well against most of the other players and his playing style tends to produce a lot of decisive games. Levon has been inconsistent in past Candidate tournaments, but he won the Sinquefield Cup recently, which was the toughest tournament of 2015 going by the average rating of all the players who participated. Unpredictability is what defines Levon best! Should he manage to win the Candidates, one has to wonder what to expect in a match against Magnus.
  • Fabiano CaruanaFabiano Caruana – Fabiano Caruana is one of the two USA modern greatest chess players and currently is rated #5 in FIDE rating. He became a Grandmaster just before his 15th birthday. Caruana is really not the best player to take on in complications. He is a calculating beast and, as usual, plays precisely, particularly after getting a slight edge in the endgame. Fabiano is the pick of many polls predicting the winner, but his lackluster performance in the recent past is the reason we place him at number 5. Magnus will surely be uncomfortable facing him for the WCC title.
  • Sergey KarjakinSergey Karjakin – Karjakin, who was born in Ukraine, first came to the public attention in 2002 and became the youngest ever Grandmaster at age 12 years and 7 months – a record that still stands. For many years, Karjakin was the most prominent contemporary rival to Magnus Carlsen. It is clear that Karjakin has matured enough to be a very serious contender for the title. He has the physical conditioning, the stamina and the experience to hold up in a pressure-filled tournament. Karjakin came close to winning the Candidates tournament last time, but failed to surpass Anand. If he can overcome Anand this time around, the whole of Russia would be rooting for him to dethrone Magnus and re-establish the Russian supremacy.
  • Veselin TopalovVeselin Topalov – Topalov, who will turn 41-years-old during the Candidates tournament, is the least active among the players in the competition. He would definitely be an interesting challenger for the title. On one hand, he seems to be past his prime, and fans almost certainly want a young challenger against Magnus Carlsen. But Topalov beat Carlsen not once, but twice, in 2015! The only problem, he needs to beat 8 others first and we don’t see it happening!
  • Peter SvidlerPeter Svidler – Svidler has the luxury of knowing his opponents will come after him. Svidler is definitely a longshot to win and his chances are much better than they would seem on paper. Should he confound his ranking and win, Svidler would be even a bigger underdog against Magnus Carlsen: the basic problem is that Carlsen is just a stronger player. Still, rating isn’t actually everything, so  Svidler could give Carlsen real problems.

 

It will be cold, violent and barbaric! And there will be no mercy! Thankfully only over the board!!!

 

Featured Image source: Flickr

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