2014 Candidates - Players, event and schedules

by Sagar Shah
3/7/2014 – The time is approaching, and we are on the threshold of a new Candidates tournament. The last one qualified Magnus Carlsen for a shot at the world title, and we know what happened after that. A fresh lineup, with new players and old, promises exciting battles, and we bring you a preview of the players, the tournament, and the schedules for Playchess GM commentary.

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The reign of Viswananthan Anand was in full flow. Everything was going just right for the Madras Tiger, but then in 2013 came the Norwegian wunderkid! Garry Kasparov had announced it, describing Magnus Carlsen as the force of Nature whose time had come. And boy, did he deliver! He beat Vishy Anand with a lopsided score of 6.5-3.5 to become the undisputed World Chess Champion

Carlsen then set about on a task which very few world champions
have done in the past: to popularize the game of chess!

He first kicked off a football match between Real Madrid and Real Valladolid on
his birthday in November 2013

He then met the owner of the world's most popular social networking website
Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and taught him to play chess

Bill Gates was next on his agenda as he played with the CEO of Microsoft in a
game that was televised and reported on around the world

In fact, he has even launched a mobile chess application for Apple users where
you have the chance to meet and play him in person if you beat the engine's
version described as ’14-year-old Magnus’. (Ed: All claimed wins will be thoroughly
checked for computer cheating, and rejected if there is even the slightest suspicion)

Of course, he also played some chess as the world champion, winning the Zurich
Chess Challenge 2014 taking his rating to a record high 2881 as of March 2014

 

It all seems to be a neverending fairytale, but life is full of ups and downs, and someone will take Carlsen down a little at some point, if only to show him while life may sometimes feel like a bed of roses, watch out for the thorns!

We need someone who has walked on fire, passed the most brutal test and proved himself capable of beating the best, and what better way than to select the Challenger to Magnus Carlsen through a super strong Candidates tournament:

The Candidates

The Candidates tournament is an eight player double round-robin event played over fourteen rounds in all. It will be held in the Russian city of Khanty Mansiysk. The winner will challenge Magnus Carlsen in the world Championship that is to take place in November 2014 (yes, the world Championship is now going to become an annual affair!). So who are the gladiators taking part in this highly esteemed event?

It seems only just we begin with the person who has been the World Chess Champion no fewer than five times.

Viswanathan Anand

How he qualified: finalist of 2013 world championship

His confidence may have taken a beating after losing to Magnus Carlsen, but he is a true champion and his fans still dream of an immortal comeback. His strongest asset at the Candidates will be his extensive preparations from his match against Carlsen. If he can make use of this preparation, then he may have a good chance.

Vladimir Kramnik

How he qualified: Winner of the 2013 World Cup

He has been at the top for two decades now. He beat Garry Kasparov when Garry was at the height of his powers. Naturally there is nothing that intimidates this Russian and he is looking for an opportunity to prove that the Norwegian prodigy is as human as any other chess player. In 2013 he nearly qualified over Carlsen in the Candidates, and only lost on tiebreak.

Dmitry Andreikin

How he qualified: Runner-up at the 2013 World Cup

When I played my only World Junior tournament in the year 2010, it was won by a man(boy) who looked like a machine. He would come everyday to the board with no expression on his face. Open the game with some unambitious opening setup like c4-nf3-e3 and then positionally crush his opponent. He was so good that in no game was he under any threat in the thirteen-round event. Four years later it comes as no surprise to me that Andreikin is playing at such a high level. However his route to the top has been quite interesting. Against better players most of the times, Andreikin plays a waiting game. He holds his fort and lets the opponent make a mistake. The overambition of players like Kramnik has resulted in Andreikin having a plus score against him. But I think these waiting tactics wont work here. Andreikin has nothing to lose and I am sure he will come out all guns blazing!

Veselin Topalov

How he qualified: Winner of the FIDE Grand Prix 2012-2013

When I went to Bulgaria in the summer of 2013, the cab drivers would ask me why had I come to their motherland. And I would reply that I had come to play chess. "Topalov" is what they would exclaim! And they would even mention his world championship matches with Anand and Kramnik. Topalov in Bulgaria is like Sachin in India! And not without reason! The Bulgarian has shown his class ever since winning the strong 2005 San Luis tournament. So he is not new to this double round robin format! We haven't seen much of Topalov recently, which means he is preparing hard for this tournament!

Does this picture ring some bells in your head? On the left is Ivan Cheparinov, Topalov's faithful second for a long time now, who won the world's strongest open, the Gibraltar Open 2014, ahead of a star-studded field that included Ivanchuk, Adams etc. When the second is himself performing so well, you definitely expect the protagonist, Veselin Topalov, to show some phenomenal preparation.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

How he qualified: Runner-up of the FIDE Grand Prix 2012-2013

What is the impression you get when you see the above picture? I guess you see a man, who is extremely sly, not intimidated by anyone and at the same time battle hardened. I think this describes Mamedyarov perfectly, and I have always loved him for his quality of sharpening the play by making unconventional moves.

While he has not proven he has the necessary skills to consistently beat players such as Kramnik, Aronian and Anand, there can be no question that he has the capacity to beat any of them on his day.

Levon Aronian

How he qualified: Based on FIDE rating

Easy going, calm and extremely affable best describes the greatest Armenian player since Petrosian. Levon Aronian is to chess what Roger Federer is to tennis. So smooth is his style of play that sometimes it feels as if he composing a poem while making his moves, but this class is combined with purposefulness and thats why he currently boasts a phenomenal 2830 rating. He is definitely the favourite to win this tournament. But as he has shown in the past, there is something that Levon lacks and that control of his nerves.

A battle between Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen in 2014 would be a new high for the sport of chess, which is why he is my personal favorite to win the Candidates.

Sergey Karjakin

How he qualified: Based on FIDE rating

Karjakin is famous for becoming the youngest grandmaster in the world at the tender age of 12 years and 7 months. Many prodigies have come and gone but this record still remains intact. In fact, when Ruslan Ponomariov won the FIDE world Chess Championship in 2002, guess who was his official second for the tournament? The twelve-year-old Sergey Karjakin. Unfortunately, he has been unable to break past that last barrier that would make him a favorite contender, though it does bear mentioning that in 2013 he won the Norway Super GM tournament ahead of Carlsen himself, and on the Norwegian’s home turf no less. Could this be his year?

Peter Svidler

How he qualified: Organizer's wild card

Peter Svidler knows that age is not on his side (he is 37 years old). However he is the current Russian Champion, with a record seven titles, and has been at the absolute top for close to 20 years now. Let’s not forget how he dismantled Magnus Carlsen in the high intensity last round of Candidates 2013.

This ends the introduction of all the participants of the Candidates tournament. The question remains who will win the tournament? My money is on Levon Aronian to win the tournament. What do you think?

The tournament

Location: Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia in the region of Ugra

Official site: candidates2014.fide.com

Average Rating: The average rating of this tournament is 2766

Time Control: The time control for the event is two hours for the first 40 moves, one hour for the next 20 moves and then an additional 15 minutes up to the end of the game with 30 sec increment from move 61.

With perennial time trouble addicts like Ivanchuk and Grischuk not present in this Candidates, I don’t think anyone is going to lose on time.

Prize money: The minimum stipulated prize fund for the event was 420 thousand Euros but the organizers have done a great job of raising the total prize fund to 600 thousand Euros. First place is 135 thousand, and last place (8th) is 25 thousand.

Bear in mind that first place also comes with a million-dollar bonus: a chance to play for the world title and the prize money that also represents.

Schedule and results

Note: the games are played at 3 PM local time, which is 10 AM CET (Paris) and 5 AM EST (New York). Click here if you are uncertain what that means for your local time.

Round one – 13.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Karjakin Sergey
-
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
-
Aronian Levon
Round two – 14.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Topalov Veselin
-
Anand Viswanathan
Aronian Levon
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round three – 15.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
-
Aronian Levon
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round four – 17.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Karjakin Sergey
-
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
-
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round five – 18.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Anand Viswanathan
Karjakin Sergey
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Svidler Peter
-
Topalov Veselin
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Aronian Levon
Round six – 19.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Anand Viswanathan
-
Karjakin Sergey
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round seven – 21.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Aronian Levon
Svidler Peter
-
Anand Viswanathan
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Topalov Veselin
Round eight – 22.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Svidler Peter
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Aronian Levon
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round nine – 23.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
-
Topalov Veselin
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Aronian Levon
Round ten – 25.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round eleven – 26.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Topalov Veselin
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Aronian Levon
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round twelve – 27.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Anand Viswanathan
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round thirteen – 29.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Aronian Levon
Karjakin Sergey
-
Anand Viswanathan
Svidler Peter
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Topalov Veselin
Round fourteen – 30.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
-
Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan
-
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
-
Andreikin Dmitry

Playchess commentary

Date Round English commentary German commentary
March 13 Round Simon Williams/Chris Ward Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 14 Round 2 Daniel King/Simon Williams Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
March 15 Round 3 Simon Williams/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 17 Round 4 Alejandro Ramirez/Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
March 18 Round 5 Daniel King/Chris Ward Klaus Bischoff
March 19 Round 6 Alej. Ramirez/Parimarjan Negi Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 21 Round 7 Simon Williams/Daniel King Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 22 Round 8 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
March 23 Round 9 Simon Williams/Alejandro Ramirez Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 25 Round 10 Daniel King/Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
March 26 Round 11 Alejandro Ramirez/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 27 Round 12 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
March 29 Round 13 Daniel King/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 30 Round 14 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff


Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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