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:

2018newcomeroftheyear

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:

2018playerfemaleoftheyear

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:

2018playeroftheyear

Fabiano Caruana

Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour

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