Monday, March 11, 2013

Tick ... tick ... tick ... Magnus is coming!

The countdown is upon us, with less than 72 hours until the 2013 Candidates Tournament begins.

The London Candidates will be the strongest tournament of its kind in history. The Prize Fund to be shared by the players totals €510,000. The winner of the Candidates will become the Challenger to Viswanathan Anand

The Guardian does a great job of setting the stage, and explaining why everyone is so excited: Chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen enters endgame for world title

Carlsen is an unusual player. He plays a wide range of openings and shows less interest in theory and preparation than many grandmasters, preferring to take games down unconventional avenues and think through problems over the board. He also dislikes draws, opting to fight to the bitter end. Being young and in excellent physical shape gives him an advantage over his older rivals in draining games that can last up to seven hours.

When the weakest player in the tournament is Boris Gelfand, the player who challenged Anand for the World Championship last year, you know you've got a great field.

Although all eyes will be on Magnus, naturally, he is by no means a shoo-in. Vinay Bhat reflects on several of the other fantastic players who will be vying for the prize: The Upcoming Candidates Tournament

I was quite surprised about Svidler’s relatively good scores against almost the entire field. Some of that is probably because he hasn’t played as much recently with Aronian and Carlsen, but it’s still an achievement. I remember first reading about him after he beat Kasparov in their first two head-to-head encounters I think (Tilburg and some other tournament) in the mid-1990s – by most accounts, he certainly had the class, if not always the drive and work ethic, to hang with the guys at the very top.

Since you can't boast about your picks if you don't make them, here are mine:

  • Carlsen will, indeed, win the tournament, but it will be very close.
  • Aronian and Kramnik will be barely a game back
  • Grischuk will also play well, but will finish 4th, 2.5 games back

There, those are my picks. What are yours?

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