Best of 2015: Best player

12/29/2015 – The year 2015 is almost over, so we thought it's time to let you vote for your highlights of this year. To begin with, we want you to vote for the best male player of the year. The following article presents a number of players who currently shape the chess world and whose achievements in 2015 stand out. Who is your player of the year 2015?

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To vote you need to login with your ChessBase Account. The final result of the vote will be revealed in a week but during the next days more polls about various aspects of chess will follow. However, now it's your turn to vote for the "Player of the Year 2015". Here are the candidates:

Magnus Carlsen: the World Champion from Norway is the world's number 1
and winner of the Grand Chess Tour 2015. He had a very bumpy start to the
year, with a bad result in Norway, losing a lot of Elo at one point, but has finished
on a high note with wins in London and Qatar.

Vladimir Kramnik: The Russian climbed back to the top and in January will be
number 2 on the world ranking list. He played some superb chess this year but
his result at the European Club in Reykjavik stands out: he played on first board,
scored 4.5/5, achieved an Elo-performance of 3102, and won gold with his club Siberia.

Anish Giri: the Dutchman almost surpassed the 2800 barrier, is currently number 3 in the world,
and was the only player not to lose a single game during the Grand Chess Tour 2015.

Levon Aronian: the Armenian is currently number 4 in the world and in 2015
had his ups (winning the Sinquefield Cup) and downs (Norway Chess).

Hikaru Nakamura: the US-American is currently number 5 in the world. In 2015 he won the
Millionaire Chess Open (and $100.000 prize-money), the US Championship, the Zurich International
 and the strong open in Gibraltar. The London Chess Classic was the only supertournament in which he
did not finish with a plus score this year. In October he was the world no. 2, the highest ranked US
player since Bobby Fischer.

Fabiano Caruana is currently number 6 in the world. In 2015 he won the
FIDE Grand Prix circuit which qualified him for the Candidates Tournament
in 2016. However, he also lost 34 Elo-points in the course of the year.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: The French player is currently number 7 in the world. He started
the year badly in Khanty-Mansiysk, but then won in Biel and tied for first at the London Chess Classic.

Viswanathan Anand: the Indian chess legend is currently number 8 in
the world. In 2015 he had three good results, winning the classical part
of Zurich, as well as good results in the Gashimov Memorial and Norway
Chess. In August he even reclaimed the world no.2 spot for two months

Veselin Topalov: the Bulgarian is currently the world's number 9. In 2015
he once was number 2 in the world and won the Norway Chess tournament,
but later in the year dropped a lot of Elo-points.

Wesley So is currently number 10 in the world. He played a lot in 2015 and
had ups and downs, but he qualified for the 2016 Grand Chess Tour by rating.

Sergey Karjakin: the Russian is currently number 11 in world. In 2015 he 
won the World Cup and qualified for the Candidates in 2016.

Ding Liren: the Chinese number 1 is currently number 12 in the world,
and for some time also was among the world's top ten in 2015.

Pavel Eljanov: the Ukrainian is current number 13 in the world and had an amazing World Cup
where he won seven games in a row. In 2015 he won no less than 33 Elo-points.

Alexander Grischuk: the Russian is currently number 15 in the world. He
became World Blitz Champion in October but also lost 58 Elo-points in 2015.

Peter Svidler: the Russian is currently number 17 in the world, and in 2015
finished second in the World Cup to qualify for the Candidates 2016.

Wei Yi: the Chinese is currently number 39 in the world and in 2015 became
the youngest player to break 2700. His rating has had some ups and downs, 
though he showed that he can compete on the highest level by winning
the B-tournament in Wijk aan Zee 2015 and by reaching the semifinals
of the World Cup.

Photos by Amruta Mokal and Pascal Simon

Current ELO standings:

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Griffedours Griffedours 12/31/2015 07:36
Was 2015 a good year for Magnus Carlsen?
Not so much.
Was it for other player in the list?
MonsterofRook MonsterofRook 12/31/2015 04:50
... and as for Giri?
I have a great deal of admiration for him. He plays some great games, he is so tough to beat and he appears to be a very humorous and easy-going fellow to boot. But what tournaments has he won? Has he won anything this year? Please someone, tell me I'm wrong.
MonsterofRook MonsterofRook 12/31/2015 04:42
Did Magnus Carlsen have a 'very bumpy start to the year'? I don't think so. He won Wijk-aan-Zee, he won the Grenke Chess Classic and he won Shamkir Chess. All that had happened by the end of April!!

OK, so Norway Chess was pretty awful by his standards but that happened in June. Then he didn't have a brilliant time in the Sinquefield Cup but still scored well enough to contribute to winning the overall Grand Chess Tour.

Nakamura has been pretty consistent this year and improved his standing but still no-one comes close to Magnus.
uggebai uggebai 12/31/2015 11:29
Magbus is king.
uggebai uggebai 12/31/2015 11:28
Magnus is best. Who else?
alucas alucas 12/31/2015 01:39
Magnus of course....
Looking at the comments, we can be glad that chess ratings are based on results and not on human appreciation, like dancing or ice skating. Magnus has had one bad tournament, Norway and won basically all the rest in usual fashion. Who else can say the same?
Of course not everyone appreciates the same style of play, but objectively, being the best is about winning and loosing, therefore...
josschess josschess 12/30/2015 11:57
Its more difficult to stay on the top than to get there
fons fons 12/30/2015 11:38
Public votes tend to be popularity contests.
Magnus is the most popular.
yesenadam yesenadam 12/30/2015 11:33
Which is it, best player, player of the year, male player? Hmm now I see it says "to start with".. maybe best-everything-else polls are to follow. (Or maybe it's like highest level chess competitions - for men, but women can be in it too if they insist. Who knows.)

Best player? Of course Carlsen, but mostly 2015 was (or certainly seemed) an awful year for him, the first bad one he's had, where he's looked human and vulnerable, even like he may topple. He lost a lot of games. It does make chess more interesting when he doesn't just effortlessly win everything.
When I read down the list, looking for who impressed me in 2015, one name stands out - Wei Yi. Out of nowhere, he is suddenly being spoken of as near-future challenger and champion material, in a way that only 2 or 3 others in the world are. He's been THE exciting player of the year, which is usually what this sort of sports award - Player of the Year - recognizes.
Magnus has, I guess, mostly been wishing he hadn't gotten out of bed.
Lukasz Lukasz 12/30/2015 11:27
IMHO Magnus Carlsen. I don't like his style but he again proved that he's the best. They do not mention in the article that he also won Rapid WC this year.
Halflash Halflash 12/30/2015 11:16
MVL, because very solid play, his strengh improved significantly... ;-)
oputu oputu 12/30/2015 11:07
Magnus chance for other players. Even Giri was trying to avoid him in this Qatar Masters (as he said himself)
mikieoko mikieoko 12/30/2015 10:57
Some pretty impressive talent out there. Still think that Magnus and Vishy are the top two.
High Anchor High Anchor 12/30/2015 10:56
Eljanov, of course.
bobbybishop bobbybishop 12/30/2015 08:48
All the greats have a duff performance some time or another. After Bobby's 1960 debacle in Buenos Aries, there was speculation he was done for. Ha!
Balaor Balaor 12/30/2015 07:57
After voting you see the ongoing results. But percentages just don't add up. In my case, it's a total of 89 instead of 100. But polls are a good idea though, look at the comments.
MichaelTallovsky MichaelTallovsky 12/30/2015 06:58
i vote for Anish Giri cause he qualified for candidates tournament and passed the 2800 level in 2015.
fabelhaft fabelhaft 12/30/2015 06:27
Carlsen is such an obvious pick that it's impossible to claim that someone else has been better than him in 2015. Five won classical tournaments plus rapid World Championship.
gurutactician gurutactician 12/30/2015 05:32
I must hand the Best Player of 2015 to Anish Giri! He married Sopiko, a win already and has played even more inspired chess than before! Usually they say you get married and chess results drop. Giri is proving otherwise!!

Also, think about it Carlsen has not beaten Giri ever. I honestly believe now that Giri is the most uncomfortable player for Carlsen. Now it's not that I don't like Carlsen, quite the contrary. I think the world deserves good chess matches and Giri, just as amiable, is the most legit candidate to dethrone Carlsen!
GM27 GM27 12/30/2015 04:48
Wei Yi is the revelation of 2015, he is next Bobby Fischer!
Smiffy Smiffy 12/30/2015 04:29
RoselleDragon RoselleDragon 12/30/2015 03:26
Magnus Carlsen
nokia x nokia x 12/30/2015 03:14
pavel eljanov best player this year
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 12/30/2015 02:24
A request to Chessbase editorial staff: I don't know if you ever did in the past, if so, please, do it again; why don't you ask some retired champions to vote their preferred 2015 player, asking them also to elaborate a bit their preferences ? I'm thinking of Kasparov, or Karpov, anyway some big players who still follow (are acquainted with) nowaday chess competions.
Frantiszek Frantiszek 12/30/2015 01:33
MVL has improved his playing strength. His blitzgames in Berlin were very convincing.
Bendigo Bendigo 12/30/2015 12:47
Giri for mine, he has the youth, self confidence and solidity to challenge Carlson.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 12/30/2015 12:35
A special mention to Denis Khismatullin for his monumental won over Pavel Eljanov on the tenth round of the European Chamoinship (cf. '2015 Euro Ch Rd10: Najer new leader' article by Albert Silver on this site): clearly the best game of 2015.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 12/30/2015 12:26
Fabiano Caruana, because he won the only available competition most resemling to the world championship: the Grand Prix 2014/2015. Beside that he did almost nothing, just as he isn't doing anything since the half of 2014, because he doesn't want to show his novelties (which cost lots of time to study and develop in order to be winning lines on a real board game) before meeting Magnus Carlsen at the world championship, which is his only goal.
King sacrifice King sacrifice 12/30/2015 12:24
Objectively speaking the best player in the world is Carlsen, but I think we nevertheless should give Kramnik some credits for the fact that he recovered from quite a hard time against so many opponents who are also much younger than him. Or to say with Kramnik's words (arround 2012): "Perhaps I even am the best player on the earth because Magnus is in space."
weerogue weerogue 12/30/2015 11:07
@digupagal: I think your hatred is unwarranted here.
As for Kramnik, I would love to see him at the Candidates and am gutted he isn't there, but it isn't unfair that he is not there - the rules were transparent and the same for everybody - it is simply a shame, that he came so close and didn't quite make it. He will be missed!
weerogue weerogue 12/30/2015 11:03
Good year for Eljanov (especially World Cup), Topalov (especially Norway), Kramnik (good chess, stable results), Aronian (especially Sinqufield ["Tournament Performance of the Year"?]), Giri (good Grand Chess Tour, very stable results!), Karjakin (beat China on his own[!] and also won the World Cup) and Wei Yi, who continued to make good on his promise and played a brilliancy or two.
Props also to David Howell who had something of a breakthrough year.
Carlsen, despite having some uneven results, still pretty much won everything he entered - his ability to overcome all challengers, even when apparently not playing his best chess, is pretty incredible.
Good year for chess - particularly enjoyed Aronian @ Sinquefield and Eljanov @ World Cup. Player of the year? Dunno!
tom fox tom fox 12/30/2015 10:29
aljehin aljehin 12/30/2015 08:26
in my opinion Pavel Eljanov
digupagal digupagal 12/30/2015 07:02
I absolutely hate Magnus and the new generation of computer robots that are around.

I will vote for Kramnik, Its unfair that he is not part of the candidates. he deserved it.
disneychannel disneychannel 12/30/2015 06:00
I would add some more achievements for Wei Yi which makes him my favourite player:His immortal game and he became the Chinese King.
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 12/30/2015 05:49
There is only one Lord of Chess and He does not share Power.
Best question would be: if you were a chess professional, which of these you would like to be like? I already know the answer.
mozartiano123 mozartiano123 12/30/2015 05:35
If it wasn't for this terrible Qatar Open, I would vote for Hou Yifan.
Well, let's see if she can do better in 2016.
Pentium Infinite Pentium Infinite 12/30/2015 05:32
You know who is the best. The world won't see any Gandalf taking Mordor head on.
VVI VVI 12/30/2015 04:52
I am voting for Anand. as he had a great start this year until Norway Chess; he would be a dominant player in 2016.
houdiman houdiman 12/30/2015 04:32
It is a great achievement not to loose a single game in the ' Grand Chess Tour ' and being solid neither than playing dry chess