Best of 2016: Player of the Year

1/2/2017 – 2016 is over - time to review the chess highlights of the year. In the first of five votings we ask: which player impressed you most in 2016? A lot of players stood out through their play and their successes in 2016 but which player left the deepest impression on you? Have a look at our list of candidates and choose your player of the year 2016!

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To vote, please log in with your ChessBase Account. The result will be published after the last of the five votings. Here are our candidates for the player of the year 2016 (in alphabetical order). 

Vishy Anand

World Ranking January 2016: 8
Elo Rating January 2016: 2784

World Ranking January 2017: 6
Elo Rating January 2017: 2796

Anand had a rocky start into 2016. Since ages he had not played in an open but then he decided to play Gibraltrar and suffered a lot of setbacks by drawing and losing against lower-rated players. However, in Zurich he shared first in the rapid and in the blitz tournament. At the Candidates Tournament in Moscow he shared second place behind the winner Karjakin, narrowly missing the right to again challenge Magnus Carlsen. In the final of the rapid chess tournament in Leon Anand beat Chinese prodigy Wei Yi and at the Grand Chess Tour tournament in Leuven he also finished among the top, even though he did not win the tournament. At the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis only Wesley So was better than the 15th World Champion. In the Tal Memorial Anand shared third place and in the Corsica Masters he lost the final against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He then won the Saint Louis Showdown, a tournament with classical, rapid and blitz games and shared third place at the London Chess Classic. 

Magnus Carlsen

World Ranking January 2016: 1
Elo Rating January 2016: 2844

World Ranking January 2017: 1
Elo Rating January 2017: 2840

Magnus Carlsen is World Champion and the number one in the world, though his lead is not as huge as it used to be. He began the year by winning the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Carlsen also won the Norway Chess Tournament, the blitz tournament in Paris and the rapid tournament in Leuven, which were both part of the Grand Chess Tour. In July Carlsen also won the Bilbao Masters but at the Chess Olympiad in Baku he did not fully live up to the (high) expectations. And defending his title against Sergey Karjakin in the World Championship match 2016 in New York also proved to be more difficult than expected though he finally retained his title through a clear 3-1 win in the tie-break.

Fabiano Caruana

World Ranking January 2016: 5
Elo Rating January 2016: 2787

World Ranking January 2017: 2
Elo Rating January 2017: 2827

Fabiano Caruana starts 2017 as the world's number two and in the world's ranking list he is currently only 13 points behind Carlsen. At the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee at the start of 2016 he, too, was second behind Carlsen, having the same number of points as Ding Liren. He also was shared second at the Candidates Tournament in Moscow but in April he won the US Championship ahead of So and Nakamura. Together with Shakriyar Mamedyarov Caruana was shared first at the Gashimov Memorial but then lost the tie-break. At the Sinquefield Cup he again shared second place and at the Chess Olympiad in Baku Caruana significantly helped the American team to win gold. He won the strong Isle of Man Open together with Pavel Eljanov and finished second behind Wesley So at the London Chess Classic.

Sergey Karjakin

World Ranking January 2016: 11
Elo Rating January 2016: 2769

World Ranking January 2017: 8
Elo Rating January 2017: 2785

Sergey Karjakin started 2016 with a moderate place at the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee. But in March he won the Candidates Tournament one point ahead of his rivals and became World Champion Challenger. However, at the Gashimov Memorial and the Bilbao Masters he again finished in the middle and at the Chess Olympiad Karjakin played well though not outstanding. But in November Karjakin was close to winning against Carlsen in the World Championship in New York and only lost in the rapid tie-break.

Vladimir Kramnik

World Ranking January 2016: 2
Elo Rating January 2016: 2801

World Ranking January 2017: 3
Elo Rating January 2017: 2811

Vladimir Kramnik had a quiet start into 2016 and played only 9 games in the first part of the year. In the second part of the year he was much more active and had good and outstanding results. At the Russian Team Championships he scored 4.0/5 and at the Norway Chess Tournament he shared third to fifth place. In Dortmund he shared second to fourth place but at the Chess Olympiad in Baku he was in excellent shape and won the gold medal for the best individual performance on board 2. He finished the year with a solid performance at the London Chess Classic.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

World Ranking January 2016: 19
Elo Rating January 2016: 2747

World Ranking January 2017: 13
Elo Rating January 2017: 2766

For Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2016 began with a less than ideal Open in Reykjavik but then he won the Nakchivan Open and later he also won the Gashimov Memorial in Baku. He won the tie-break against Fabiano Caruana. At the Chess Olympiad in Baku the Azeri team finished less well than they had hoped but Mamedyarov showed a solid performance.

Hikaru Nakamura

World Ranking January 2016: 6
Elo Rating January 2016: 2787

World Ranking January 2017: 7
Elo Rating January 2017: 2785

Hikaru Nakamura started2016 by winning the Gibraltar Open and in Zurich he and Anand were the best players. At the Candidates Tournament he finished with a 50% score and at the US Championship he finished behind Caruana and shared second place with Wesley So. Nakamura won the rapid tournament of the Grand Chess Tour in Paris and finished second in the blitz tournament. At the Bilbao Masters he was second, at the Sinquefield Cup he finished in the field. His solid play helped the US team to win gold at the Chess Olympiad in Baku and he shared third place at the London Chess Classic.

Ian Nepomniachtchi

World Ranking January 2016: 39
Elo Rating January 2016: 2704

World Ranking January 2017: 11
Elo Rating January 2017: 2767

Ian Nepomniachtchi had a good 2016 and several times he had a performance of 2800+, the first one at the Russian Team Championships. In the Russia-China match he also had a clear plus and afterwards he convincingly won the tournament in Danzhou. At the Chess Olympiad the Russian grandmaster again played a 2800+ performance and soon after he won the Tal Memorial.

Wesley So

World Ranking January 2016: 10
Elo Rating January 2016: 2773

World Ranking January 2017: 4
Elo Rating January 2017: 2808

Wesley So starts the year as the world's number four and passed the Elo 2800 mark. He came fourth at the Tata Steel Tournament. At the US Championship he finished second. In the rapid tournaments of the Grand Chess Tour in Paris and Leuven So finished third and second. After a moderate result at the Bilbao Masters So won the Sinquefield Cup and at the Chess Olympiad in Baku he had a 2900+ performance. At the Isle of Man Open he finished third behind Caruana and Eljanov and at the end of the year he won the London Chess Classic thus also winning the Grand Chess Tour.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

World Ranking January 2016: 7
Elo Rating January 2016: 2785

World Ranking January 2017: 5
Elo Rating January 2017: 2796

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's tournament year began in Gibraltar. He shared first with Hikaru Nakamura but lost the play-off match against the American. At the Norway Chess Tournament in Stavanger Vachier-Lagrave finished third and then had a fantastic result in the French Club Championships (7 wins, 3 draws). At the Grand Chess Tournament event in his hometown in Paris the French Grandmaster finished third in the rapid and in the blitz tournament. He won the Grandmaster Tournament in Dortmund with a performance of almost 2950. Soon after he won a match against Peter Svidler in Biel. He then won the Corsica Masters Final against Vishy Anand.

 

Photos by Alina L'Ami, Amruta Mokal and Pascal Simon



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