Player, Female player and Newcomer of the Year

by ChessBase
1/11/2019 – A few weeks ago we launched reader polls with nominations for the best players of 2018. In addition to overall player and best female, we added "newcomer" of the year. The latter proved to be a close contest between World Junior Champion Parham Maghsoodloo and German IM Vincent Keymer. Women's World Champion Ju Wenjun easily took the "female player of the year" honours, and Fabiano Caruana edged World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the readers' minds for "player of the year". Here's to an even greater 2019! View the results...

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Best of 2018 (part 2)

The results are in and they were both surprising and predictable, depending on the category, in our informal survey of ChessBase readers. Let's dive right in.

Best "newcomer" of 2018: Vincent Keymer

This category's debut was no-doubt influenced by the fact that ChessBase is based in Hamburg, Germany and runs the most important German-language News page in the world. Poll voting was shared between our three main languages (Spanish as well) and were the site available in Farsi, we might have seen a different outcome. One could argue that Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and Nihal Sarin were bound to split "the Indian vote", which could account for their relative underperformance.

Having said that, Vincent Keymer was clearly one of the surprise stars of 2018 ever since his stunning win at the Grenke Open in Karlsruhe, Germany. He's being coached by Peter Leko, and is one of the "Challengers" at the Tata Steel Chess tournament, where he will be looking to score his third GM-norm and will have a chance to go head-to-head with runner up "newcomer", Iranian GM Parham Magsoodloo. 

Poll results:


Vincent Keymer

Vincent Keymer | Photo: Frank Hoppe

Best female player of 2018: Ju Wenjun

This category was no contest in a year when Hou Yifan played only a few over the board games after the Grenke Chess Classic in April, 2018 and did not participate in any of the World Championship tournaments, despite being the highest rated woman by 87 Elo points.

By contrast, Ju won the Women's World Championship title three times in 2018! In classical chess, her match win against Tan Zhonqi had to be defended just months later in a gruelling 64-player knockout. But she wasn't done yet — she added World Rapid Champion to her impressive CV in the days following the launch of our poll, earning herself a blowout result.

Poll results:


Ju Wenjun

Ju Wenjun | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

Best Player of 2018: Fabiano Caruana

For Fabiano Caruana, 2018 was a sensational year, with tremendous success bookended by failure. The year began with an inauspicious 11th place for the American at Tata Steel Chess 2018, but after that he really got going: victory in the Candidates Tournament earned him a match for the World Championship, but he didn't rest on his laurels. Caruana won the Grenke Classic in Baden-Baden, ahead of World Champion Carlsen. Caruana lost the match but in the world rankings (classical) he was neck-and-neck with Magnus all year. Caruana was also one of four players to reach the Grand Chess Tour final tournament — the London Chess Classic — where he lost to Nakamura but beat Aronian in rapid chess. He was one of the most active and most prominent players of the year. All in all, Caruana was able to convince 111 of the 305 judges that 2018 was "his" year.

Poll results:


Fabiano Caruana

Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour


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Michael Jones Michael Jones 1/14/2019 01:28
I think some people are taking this a bit too seriously. It's a poll, not a rating system - the winner is a reflection of nothing more or less than the collective opinion of the particular group of people who happened to vote, with no attempt made to control the demographic make-up of that group. It's not an objective assessment of who performed the best in 2018, but it never claimed to be - just as the winner of an election is not necessarily the person best qualified to hold the office, only the one whom most people wanted to do so.
hansj hansj 1/12/2019 11:44
Obviously the world champion is the best player.
malfa malfa 1/12/2019 02:04
once upon a time the prestigeous Russian magazine "64" used to award a chess Oscar, but its correlation with the world title, though quite significant, was by no means compulsory: one outstanding discrepancy happened, for example, in 1978 when Viktor Korchnoi, though losing the world match, was awarded the Oscar. See here for further information:
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/12/2019 01:43
macauley - agreed, just a bit of fun. Too many stat majors taking this to level that it never intended to be. Honestly, chess fans, such a stereotypical bunch that play up to their stereotype ;)
macauley macauley 1/12/2019 12:17
As should be clear from the text, we are well aware of the unscientific nature of this "informal survey".
KevinC KevinC 1/11/2019 10:23
From the first part of the article, "No amount of over-voting can undermine the result of our first reader vote, however...", and yet, they still chose the newcomer with the worst resume. Not even comparing him to the other two youngsters, how in the world can he compare to the year that Shankland and Duda had. I would argue that they had a better year than even Maghsoodloo since they play with the 2700-2800 crowd, but at least Maghsoodloo won the World Junior. Keymer? Really? It wasn't even close except for the rigged voting.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 1/11/2019 10:10
Before building your barcharts, you need to evaluate the composition of your sample. For the juniors for instance, how many votes for Vincent came from German IP addresses, compared to how many for Parham from Iran. I would expect to see clustering of votes by countries and regions. You would then need to stratify them, hoping to eliminate 'homeland' favoritism. Otherwise, your results would be completely meaningless.
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 1/11/2019 09:20
If the world champ had lost all his games in 2018 and won the WCC he would not be the best player of 2018. You can see how there is a difference between the two, no?
lucena_position lucena_position 1/11/2019 08:47
Uhm, we just had a match to determine the best chess player in the world in 2018 and Magnus Carlsen won it. I guess that kind of settles who the best player was in 2018 :) These "best player" nominations only make sense in "by" years where we don't have a match.