Best of 2015: Summary

1/11/2016 – After asking you to vote for the "Best of 2015", we now want to show you the results. Daniel King dedicated his latest Power Play Show to the poll and presented the winners. In the following article you can see if there were any surprises or if all polls ended as you expected. Have a look at the winners.

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Daniel King's "Best of 2015" show

In his "Power Play Show" from last week English grandmaster and popular commentator Daniel King presented the results of your vote. The show is now in the archives, but if you are a premium member you can watch it here.


Magnus Carlsen: the World Champion from Norway is the world's number 1
and winner of the Grand Chess Tour 2015. He had an uneven year,
scoring bad results in the Norway Chess tournament and at the European Team Championship
in Reykjavik, but ended the year on a high note by winning
the London Chess Classic and the Qatar Open. 

The following table from the next issue of our ChessBase Magazine (CBM 170) shows the "Top Ranking 2015", that is, the average of the Elo-performances the world's best players achieved in 2015. Despite his surprisingly poor performances at the Norway Chess Tournament and the European Team Championship Magnus Carlsen still had the best performance of all players in 2015. On average he performed better than any other player in the world and is the only player with an average performance of more than 2800.

(Only classical games were considered. To make it to the list the players needed to have played a minimum of three top tournaments and 25 games in 2015.)


Hou Yifan: the former Women's World Champion from China is the world's number 1 female player.
She played (and hold her own) against the top elite in Wijk aan Zee, at the Dortmund Sparkassen
tournament and the World Cup. She is steadily heading towards the 2700 barrier. Next year she will face
Mariya Muzychuk and play for the title of Women's World Champion.

The vote for the "Best female player 2015" was clearly won by Hou Yifan, with Mariya Muzychuk coming second. In March 2016 the two will play a match for the World Championship. Judging from their results in 2015 Hou Yifan is favorite to win this match.


To find out which opening the top players liked best (or at least played most often) we created a database with all classical games played by players with an Elo of 2500+ in 2015. In no less than 86 games the Berlin was played. Emil Sutovsky, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Grischuk played it more than four times with white, Magnus Carlsen, Anish Giri and Yuri Kryvoruchko used it regularly with black. Most often (in 49 of the 86 games) White decided to continue with 9.h3, and now Black tried a number of different moves. The most popular were 9...Ke8, 9...h5, 9...h6 and 9...Bd7. However, White still seems to have found no weapon against the Berlin and we are curious what the top players with White will come up with in 2016. (If you like, you can replay or download all 86 Berlin games.)


For our readers, who decided to join the vote, Navara's king march against Wojtaszek is the "Best Game of 2015". The brilliant attacking game Chinese prodigy Wei Yi played against Lazaro Bruzon and Wesley So's defensive queen sacrifice against Ding Liren also attracted a lot of supporters. During the poll a lively discussion about the merits of the ten games ensued - and indeed, all ten games were superb. We can only hope that the best games of 2016 will be as entertaining as the best games of 2015.


So-Vachier-Lagrave was voted as best endgame of 2015. With superb technique Vachier-Lagrave converted an endgame in which he had knight and two pawns and So had four pawns (all six pawns on the kingside) into a win. Have a look:


For feedback, proposals and discussions please use the comments section.

Pictures by Amruta Mokal

Topics: Best of, summary, Survey
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ubernomics ubernomics 1/13/2016 09:23
Not to make a mountain out of molehill, but seriously, how can you argue for Mariya as indisputable winner, given how she closed out the year with an ugly crash at the Ukraine Championship? Winless and minus three. A 2520 TPR. She's votable, but not some clear-cut winner.

(P.S. - I voted for neither Hou Yifan or Mariya. Couldn't vote for Mariya when her overall TPR in 2015 - whatever it may be, I didn't check - was clearly far lower. Like, probably 60 to 80 points lower than Hou Yifan's. Nonetheless, Hou's overall mediocrity was unvotable as well.)
scoobeedo scoobeedo 1/13/2016 07:14

It is possible to have different point of views about the best game.

But it is not possible to talk about the best female player.
If you would use a little logic, you would have the answer about this question already in the title. It was not asked who was last year the most successful female player. It was asked for the best female player and there is only one answer, Hou Yifan.

Every Chessplayer who is deep in this sport smiles about the "discount world championship" title of Mariya Muzychuk. It is considered as a title for players who would have never at the current play level a chance to get the REAL world championship title. That Hou Yifan did not play this tournament was clear. It would have been a downgrade of her level. The FIDE should stop this kind of embarrassing tricks.

In the males section we had the same. Do you remember GM Khasim.... ? He was once also a "discount world champion". I did not write the full name because you should think how he is written! And you will realize that you dont remember how to write his name. And that is a World Champion??? We know all the world champion title holders, but we do not remember how GM Pono.... is written??? Dont missunderstand me, GM Khasim... is a very nice person, but everybody knew that he is not at the level to be a real world champion.

Back to the question who is the best female player:

The FIDE Rating List:
1. Hou, Yifan, 2673
2. Koneru, Humpy, 2583
3. Muzychuk, Mariya, 2554

Again ... You question that Hou Yifan is the best female player? And you asked "Why do I think my ability to understand things is way higher than anybody else's here ?". I just shake my head in disbelief. Use next time more logic before you write a comment like this.
scoobeedo scoobeedo 1/13/2016 06:21
To Chessbase, the Fide and Mr. Ehsan Ghaem Maghami

To who it may concern ...

Strip GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami from his title!
He can keep his ELO, but you should also ban him for 2-5 years form entering any FIDE tournament. It is time to send a strong message to fanatics like him.

His refusal to play against a player from Israel in the tournament in Basel Jan. 2016 is against the ethics code of the FIDE.

Old against young, strong against weak, male against female, even seeing against blind is possible ... and then come somebody like him and sabotage the idea of chess.

To make it very clear: Religious hostilities and fanatism have to stay out of our beloved sport.

He is a disgrace as a ambassador for chess and do not deserve to hold this title.

nice greetings
Facebook: ScoobeedoCool

I will send this request to the FIDE, the Chessbase Webpage and to the Iranian Chess player.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 1/12/2016 11:50
@digupagal: :))))
But, seriously, how on earth can you consider Navara's blitz game-like king trip the best game of 2015 against that monument to the human mix of rationality and instinct which is the Kismatullin game ? Or, to give you another example, how can you consider best female player Hou Yifan, when you have a Mariya Muzychuk who won so well the world championship, to which the Chinese girl didn't take part because too busy in collecting the money given her by some organizers just to participate in an almost all-male strong tournament ? Come on ! Seriously !
digupagal digupagal 1/12/2016 10:10
because u are a genius from the outer most galaxy of the universe and you belong there.
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 1/12/2016 09:48
Why do I think my ability to understand things is way higher than anybody else's here ?
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 1/12/2016 09:46
Why do I think my ability to understand things is way higher than anybody's else here ?
ubernomics ubernomics 1/12/2016 05:45
Goodbye to 2015. In the chess world of 2016, storylines to look forward to:

1 Giri. Pretender or contender?
2 Lagrave. True top tenner?
3 Mariya. One-time blip? Mere 2500 who receives her stuffings, Ushenina-style? Or 2600-plus contender? who decisively passes Humpy, and gives a real fight to the #1.
4 Nakamura - another 15 point improvement? Or plateaus/peaks/overs-the-hill at age 28?
5 Candidates. Has Aronian missed his chance? To Max-Euwe the championship, at tail end of Anand's decline and before Carlsen's ascension, sometime around 2009.
6 The Chinese GMs - any true top tenners in the bunch? with staying power. or grab bag of low 2700ers?
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 1/12/2016 03:06
Viva El Carlsen!! d' greatest & only player to end up to the level of 2800 !!
SunriseK SunriseK 1/12/2016 12:21
Navara vs Wojtaszek is considered the best games of 2015??? Just because the white king reach h8? :-o
I'm sincerely astonished and I think the readers have strongly over evaluated this game, probably just for the white's king march seems so epic...
But the game itself is full of errors and inaccuracies by both sides! So I completely disagree with this choice!
Let's compare it for instance with the game Carlsen vs Li Chao, where black, in spite of having played almost perfectly, still ran into wonderful sacrifices by white and was simply crushed. I marvel what means the word "best" to most of people...
With such a criterion, in the future even two players who would secretly agree to create a bizarre game just to astonish the spectators, could win the contest for "best" game! :-)