Who will win the Candidates Tournament? A prediction

by André Schulz
6/17/2022 – Today, the most important tournament of the year starts - the Candidates Tournament. The winner will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship and can become new World Champion. But who will win? We will know in three weeks but we still dare a prediction now, based on the games the eight candidates have recently played against each other. And the winner is...

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Who will win the Candidates?

Of course, you can't really predict the outcome of this tournament, and therefore our experiment is rather playful and should not be taken too seriously. But who knows? Maybe we are not that wrong. Based on the games the eight candidates have recently played against each other, we created a virtual Candidates Tournament with a possible result of the real Candidates Tournament.

For each of the encounters that will take place in the Candidates Tournament in Madrid, we took the two most recent games with reversed colours the candidates had played against each other.

If possible, we took the two most recent classical games. If there were no such games, which was rare, we took over-the-board rapid games, and if there were no such games, we took rapid games from online tournaments.

Ding Liren was already one of the favourites in the last Candidates Tournament 2020-21, but was particularly affected by the pandemic as he had to spend a long time in quarantine before the start of the Candidates 2020-21 in Ekaterinburg, and then didn't find his form when the tournament began.

But in Madrid Ding should be in form. After all, in the last months Ding has played several tournaments to reach the required number of 30 games which he needed to qualify as a replacement for Karjakin, who was suspended by the FIDE after supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a number of tweets.

Alireza Firouzja shot way up in the world rankings at the end of 2021. In the press conference of the Candidates Caruana said that he doesn't think that Firouzja, who will turn 19 on 18 June, is quite as strong as his rating indicates. After all, Firouzja is the youngest participant in the field and still somewhat inexperienced in such tournaments though he definitely has a lot of energy and is extremely motivated.

Caruana, on the other hand, is an extremely experienced player, who had already played in three Candidates Tournaments and has also played a World Championship match.

Ian Nepomniachtchi, too, has won a Candidates Tournament though the following World Championship match against Carlsen did not go particularly well. It will be seen whether and to what extent the best Russian player is and will be affected by current political events.

Hikaru Nakamura and Richard Rapport recommend themselves by winning and finishing second respectively in the Grand Prix tournaments.

Teimour Radjabov was also not very active before the pandemic. As a prelude to the Candidates Tournament he played in the Norway Chess Tournament, where he finished second to last, but of course did not show everything there.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda has not yet reached his zenith but the young Pole has shown that he can beat anyone.

And here is our prediction:

Rg. Tit. Name Country Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts.
1 GM Ding Liren
2806   ½½ ½1 ½½ ½½ 9.0
2 GM Fabiano Caruana
2783   ½½ ½½ ½½ ½1 8.0
3 GM Hikaru Nakamura
2760 ½½   ½½ ½½ 11 7.5
4 GM Teimour Radjabov
2738 ½0 ½½   ½½ ½1 ½1 7.5
5 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi
2766 ½½ ½½   ½1 ½½ 7.0
6 GM Alireza Firouzja
2793 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½0 ½0   11 6.5
7 GM Richard Rapport
2764 ½½ ½½ ½½   00 5.5
8 GM Jan Krzysztof Duda
2750 ½0 00 ½0 00 11   5.0

The Elo-ratings are based on the Live Chess Rating list.

As you can see, there is a high number of draws, but this can happen in a Candidates Tournament.

And here are the games on which our prediction is based:


But even when the winner is decided, there is still a big question: Will World Champion Magnus Carlsen defend his title or will he give up his title without playing another World Championship match? Should he do so, the top two finishers in the Candidates Tournament will play a match for the title.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
Discussion and Feedback Submit your feedback to the editors

arzi arzi 6/23/2022 08:30
To Jacob woge, maybe the current WCC is too heavy system? Perhaps the candidate tournament should start and end in January and WCC match in December? Between those two, lot of time to prepare, rest and play other tournaments. 7 candidates will be chosen by their chess rating in December and one get the ticket from the organizer or by the voting of chess community? Of course, the pick must be on the list of the 100 strongest.
arzi arzi 6/23/2022 08:08
WillScarlett, I am not responsible for your mistakes. By the way, even heat as infrared radiation is based on light. So, do you know what you are talking about, or are you you using your best asset, the guessing?
Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/23/2022 07:53
“... do you mean that Carlsen is not going to defend his title if Firouzja does not win this tournament?“

He might, and he might not. Nobody knows. It used to be obvious that the cycle should end with a Candidates’ Winner - WC match. This time it isn’t, and that changes the tournament dynamics.

Easy to remedy that. “Of course I am going to play.”

Not since Fischer - but Karpov and Korchnoi were unaware that their 1974 match was the first out of three for the crown. Maybe Fischer would have played against Korchnoi ...

That said, I think a two-year cycle is too much. It’s like celebrating Christmas twice a year.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 6/23/2022 07:35
Game, set, match . Self- immolation was his final retort. Much heat - little light.
arzi arzi 6/23/2022 07:14
WillScarlett, misunderstood racist and misanthrope. Do you have any other nice anti-Semitic jokes? Anything from your real life, from home? Have any black people been hanged in the hot south or the sons of Abraham gassed? Nazi? I didn´t write anything about Nazis with WillScarlett but if you say so I believe you. You know best of yourself.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 6/23/2022 06:32
More baseless slurs are about as much as can be expected from such a one as the chronically libelous arzi.
He forget to slander me as a Nazi. It would have been amusing to be smeared as such AND to be labelled as
a Stalinist Putin puppet at the same time. Arzi's mental state has performed the heretofore impossible feat of equating complete opposites. We owe him a debt of gratitude for confirming the nature of his character and the caliber of his mind - a unique case of a very small bore loose cannon.
arzi arzi 6/23/2022 06:19
Jacob woge, do you mean that Carlsen is not going to defend his title if Firouzja does not win this tournament? I think Carlsen will defend his title against whoever of the eight contender is the winner. He might resign the title (win or lose the match) after WCC match or announce the information at the beginning of an upcoming WCC match.
arzi arzi 6/23/2022 06:04
WillScarlett:"Lajosarpad's violin sonatas are much more than adequate and welcome to my ears than the twangy noise from some dunce's Jew's harp."

Yes, I knew that our dear WillScarlett, the best friend of Robin Hood, is also an anti-Semitic racist. Lajos, you are in a good company. You have a new best friend. Nice. Give a hug to WillScarlett, he needs some strength and new inspiration for his cerebration. Wow!
Jacob woge Jacob woge 6/22/2022 05:40
This Candidates' is, in my opinion, wide open. There is no clear favourite, or an obvious tail ender. I predict at the half-way mark, every participant will still be a serious contender for at least shared first. No-one is going to crash, and no-one is going to run away with it, like Topalov in ... San Luis?

The number of lost opportunities / saves so far shows that the tournament win is up for whoever manages to actually win won positions. Depending on how the tournament evolves this would mean either everyone or no-one is a match for Carlsen. I would say, the second option.

To spice it up, second place may or may not have as much value as first. I find this unclarity, brought about by the current WC (who, by the way, promoted this format), very unfortunate. We may end up with players not knowing what exactly to play for in last rounds. I do not recall a precedent.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 6/22/2022 04:31
As evidenced in many prior discussions, as well as this current one, lajosarpad continues to make informed, balanced, logical, reasonable,and civil points. For just one example: "I find the exclusion of anybody from the world championship cycle due to 'wrongthink' egregious ...". Or - "Karjakin has qualified to this tournament and he was banned from it for political reasons." These are perfectly valid and appropriate opinions.

As usual, he has, for his efforts , been subjected to inarticulate, thoughtless, and crass ad hominem slurs from the occasional, but unavoidable trolls and dolts who pride themselves on their witless and fatuous offerings.

These latter, by the way, are never subjected to ChessBase knee-jerk censoring.

Lajosarpad's violin sonatas are much more than adequate and welcome to my ears than the twangy noise from some dunce's Jew's harp.
arzi arzi 6/22/2022 02:13
Lajos: "I do not know and do not care what other discussions you are speaking about. Here, in this discussion we are speaking about the candidates tournament."

Yes, because YOU, Lajos, started that same old song again and again and again ... aren't you tired of yourself? You’re like a faulty or mis-tuned violin trying to be played by an unskilled person. Kriii, kriii, iuuuuu, auuuu.
arzi arzi 6/22/2022 02:04
In this comment section it is about PREDICTION of the winner, not about Karjakin or about your "great" concern for the treatment of the Russians.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/22/2022 01:36
@Arzi you seem to not understand what the concept of off-topic means. Off-topic is a term used when one starts to speak about something else than the topic. Our topic is the candidates tournament. Not Putin, nor Stalin. Karjakin was banned from this specific tournament, so his ban is closely related to the topic. So, when I'm saying that the politically motivated sabotage Karjakin has to face, by not being able to play in this tournament, even though he qualified for it was last seen at Soviet times when Kasparov and Kortchnoi were sabotaged by the Soviet Union in a similar way as Karjakin is being sabotaged now. So, I'm actually talking about the candidates tournament (the topic) when I'm saying that Karjakin's banning from the candidates tournament is a pattern that was observable by the victims of the Soviet Union.

"Somehow you wanted to take Karjakin in this discussion. Why?"

Karjakin has qualified to this tournament and he was banned from it for political reasons. Don't you understand that Karjakin's ban from the candidates tournament is related to the candidates tournament?

"Whatever the topic of discussion, you include Karjakin."

I do not know and do not care what other discussions you are speaking about. Here, in this discussion we are speaking about the candidates tournament. Like it or not, Karjakin has qualified to it and was banned by FIDE, so it is perfectly valid to speak about it, even if you are offended even if I merely mention his name.
arzi arzi 6/22/2022 12:30
Lajos: "Nobody forced you to bring in off-topics...."
Actually, Lajos, you started writing about Soviet Union. This whole comment section was about prediction of the winner. Somehow you wanted to take Karjakin in this discussion. Why? Because it is something YOU want, YOU need to talk about. Whatever the topic of discussion, you include Karjakin. It is you, Lajos, who bring in off topics. You just can´t admit it.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/22/2022 11:48

"Stalin is Putin´s favorite "man", an idol. Putin´s acts are like Stalin`s. It is a fact. Don´t try to deny it."

I did not address that, since 1. I do not care who Putin's idol is, 2. This is completely off-topic, 3. It is irrelevant to chess

"You are an expert of Everything, Lajos, even in whataboutism. "

Nobody forced you to bring in off-topics. If you are angry about it, then maybe next time you can stick to the topic.

"Of course you wanted to put in your prediction about Karjakin and his banning!?"

I find the exclusion of anybody from the world championship cycle due to "wrongthink" egregious and I am worried about the future, because Karjakin's banning gives him arguments and claims. If he is not the best possible challenger in terms of chess qualities at this point, then it would have been simpler and better to beat him over the board than fighting legal and political struggles over his banning. If Ding Liren wins, who should have not even qualified and he proceeds to beat Carlsen (or Carlsen forfeits), then we will end up with long-term controversies (even other scenarios will possibly lead to controversies, but this scenario, with the substitute winning the world crown weakens the prestige of the world championship cycle tremendously). I expressed my concerns in the scenario when Ding Liren wins. I do not understand why you are offended by the fact that Karjakin's ban was described as a concern. It is a problem and it might lead to serious long-term issues that hurt chess in the long run.
arzi arzi 6/22/2022 06:41
Lajos:"@Arzi to clarify, I do not support the current war, so you can reserve your appeal to emotion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_emotion) fallacy to someone who actually supports this war."

You should read more carefully, Lajos. To clarify, I did NOT say that Lajosarpad support the current war, or did I?

"""""FRIENDLY""""""" and "war talk" put together is perverted. (By the way, did you noticed my quotes around the words "war talk"?)

Stalin is Putin´s favorite "man", an idol. Putin´s acts are like Stalin`s. It is a fact. Don´t try to deny it. The Communist tsar and so called "democratic" tsar, they are like the Siamese twins. No mustaches, guess which one?

You are an expert of Everything, Lajos, even in whataboutism.

Lajos, I KNOW you don´t know who wins the tournament. No one knows before the tournament is over or almost over, that is why I asked your prediction. Of course you wanted to put in your prediction about Karjakin and his banning!? An expert of Everything does not predict anybody? Nice.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/21/2022 05:10
@Arzi in response to your question about my prediction: I do not know who will win. I can certainly say that I hope Rapport wins, but if I had to bet, I would bet on either Caruana or Nepo. If Firouzja wins, then Carlsen will have no excuse but to play the match. If Ding Liren wins, then, given the fact that he did not qualify, he was a last-minute inclusion after Karjakin was banned, it would result in large controversies. Frankly, anyone can win the tournament, even the players who have a negative score.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/21/2022 04:54
@Arzi to clarify, I do not support the current war, so you can reserve your appeal to emotion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_emotion) fallacy to someone who actually supports this war.

You say that a friendly match sounds perverted. Apparently you didn't notice the quotes around the word "friendly".

You have brought in an off-topic here about Stalin (whataboutism) and equated him with Putin. However, you conveniently forgot that Botvinnik, an ardent supporter of Stalin could freely participate in tournaments and become world champion, one of the greatest champions in chess history with quite a valuable chess legacy. So, FIDE was not discriminating based on political views at that point. The Soviet Union was the tyrannical force that prevented top players from playing in the candidates matches based on their political views, Kasparov and Kortchnoi were severely discriminated against.

Now FIDE decides what "wrongthink" is, like the Bolshevik regime of the Soviet Union. And this has a few supporters, such as yourself. No wonder that you engage into appeal to emotion, whataboutisms and strawman fallacies as well as ad hominem slurs.
arzi arzi 6/21/2022 02:57
By the way, what is your prediction of this tournament, Lajos?
arzi arzi 6/21/2022 02:55
"..the Soviet Union does not exist as a political entity."

Lajos, Stalin (Soviet Union) starved four million Ukrainians in the 1930s and now Putin (Russia) is trying to repeat Stalin's plan. Is this your missing link between Soviet Union and present day Russia? Stalin and Putin, like the Siamese twins.
arzi arzi 6/21/2022 02:36
Lajos, if you say so it must be true. No, I would not watch that match ... not even a match between Karjakin and Carlsen. Well, perhaps Karjakin did not butcher anyone, personally, but his words might have done the job for him?

Friendly match sounds perverted in connection with Karjakin and his "war talk". Friendly and war talk. Perverted absolutely.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/21/2022 01:48
@Arzi "Boring, unless you mean a good force (western knight) struggle against an evil tyranny (Putinian devil/Soviet Union´s butcher) scenario?"

Any match between top players is interesting for people interested in top-level chess. If it's not interesting for you, that's another matter. You can watch soap operas instead or whatever you prefer. However, it is quite propagandistic to demonize a chess player and depict his opponent as an angel. You have all the right to hope in the loss of Karjakin, but depicting Karjakin as a "Soviet Union's butcher" has no connection to reality. Karjakin didn't butcher anyone and the Soviet Union does not exist as a political entity.

And I repeat: anyone who wants Karjakin to be discriminated because of his thoughts does care about his thoughts. Otherwise, if you really didn't care about what Karjakin thinks, then you would not support his banning for it.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/21/2022 01:34
@Arzi first of all, my suggestion was that it would be a good idea to play a friendly match between the winner of the candidates and Karjakin and the reason for that is that it would clarify matters. If Karjakin loses, then any claims on his side would not be taken seriously. If he wins, then FIDE will have to fix the mess it created by discriminating a person who qualified to the candidates in some manner. Such a friendly match between the winner of the candidates (who is a different person from Carlsen) and Karjakin would not be a match between Carlsen and Karjakin by any means and since Karjakin is already excluded from the current cycle, he will not play a match with Carlsen. So, it is quite interesting that you are speaking again and again about a match between Karjakin and Carlsen, which is not a possible result even if my suggestion is accepted. So, it is quite strange that instead of addressing my suggestion you address a scenario that has no connection to my suggestion. Nevertheless, I answered your question about such a match, but since you returned to your trolling ways with

"Well Lajos, I know you are VERY interesting to see Karjakin or other Putinian player to play and maybe win a chess match against Carlsen."

I point out that you have perverted my point and answered something different than I initially proposed. A friendly match between the winner of the candidates and Karjakin by no means yields a WC match between Carlsen and Karjakin. As about your personal slurs, I will ignore them, as I wasted enough time in the past addressing your trolling.

"Lajos. Who want to see such a match?"

What match? Karjakin vs. Carlsen? I think the whole chess world would watch such a match, including you. But that was NOT my suggestion. My suggestion was a friendly match between Karjakin and the winner of the candidates. And I'm sure that would be interesting as well for anyone interested in top chess.
arzi arzi 6/21/2022 06:53
Well Lajos, I know you are VERY interesting to see Karjakin or other Putinian player to play and maybe win a chess match against Carlsen. I think you are in a very small minority, Lajos. Who want to see such a match? Boring, unless you mean a good force (western knight) struggle against an evil tyranny (Putinian devil/Soviet Union´s butcher) scenario?

Yes Lajos, Hungary will remember a history of tyranny.

WillScarlett, aren't you a furious supporter of Fischer? Neither are me. I liked Mikhail Tal from Latvian more. It was not his fault that the great tyranny, Soviet Union occupied Latvia. You have a great mind, WillScarlett, great but empty. Thanks for sharing.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/20/2022 07:46

"Carlsen has already won Karjakin in the WCC"

Yes. After narrowly equalizing the score in game 10 and then winning the rapid tiebreakers. That match could have gone the other way around easily. And 6 years passed since then, so a rematch would definitely be interesting. This match was narrower than Euwe's win against Alekhine and their rematch was interesting.

"There is no need to prove to the people around the world who is stronger in the year of 2022 or 2023, Carlsen or Karjakin"

Actually there is such a need, the world champion is supposed to be better than anyone else. This is why world championships exist. We have 8 candidates that should play each-other to find out who the worthiest challenger is. From the 8 candidates one was expelled and another one was included instead.

"No one is interested in knowing the outcome of such a match."

I would be very interested to see a world championship match between the winner of the candidates and the champion to find out who the best player is. And I'm sure there are many others who are interested to see a cycle without discrimination based on sexual, racial, religious or political discrimination.

"Soviet Union, who cares anymore to know about the events in the time of Soviet Union?"

Thinkers do care about such questions. History repeats itself if we are foolish-enough not to care about it.

"Who cares about Karjakin and his little thoughts?"

Every person who wants to exclude him from the cycle does care.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 6/20/2022 04:07
Who was interested in the outcome of the 1969 WC match ? Petrosian had already "won Spassky" (sic) in the WCC of 1966. Who cares about events in the time of all and every prior events -aka History ?

If one indulges in a close reading of the prior post, reads "between the lines", and weighs carefully the subtleties and nuances, one may detect a delicate and slight bias ... of elephantine proportions.

Who cares about arzi and his little thoughts ?
arzi arzi 6/20/2022 02:31
Lajos, Carlsen has already won Karjakin in the WCC. There is no need to prove to the people around the world who is stronger in the year of 2022 or 2023, Carlsen or Karjakin. No one is interested in knowing the outcome of such a match. Boring. Soviet Union, who cares anymore to know about the events in the time of Soviet Union? Soviet Union was and Russia is a tyrannical force, which has started a war with the aim of destroying Ukraine. Who cares about Karjakin and his little thoughts? He can embark on a new and brilliant political career in Russia. Let him stay there bowing to Putin and kissing his hands.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/20/2022 11:02

my point is that I found a bug while analyzing the games. As a person who is involved into software development I know that anyone developing software is greatly helped if the users are pointing out the existence of a bug. Thank you for the suggestion to use Lichess, but that does not address nor fix the problem.

We disagree about Karjakin. I believe that the aim of a chess world championship is to find out who the best player is. Excluding players from the cycle because of their political views prevent us from being sure who the best player is (Karjakin was Carlsen's fiercest challenger so far, who was even leading after the 8th round). If we do not provide the chance for Karjakin to prove himself and to the other candidates to beat him, then we will not find out for sure who the best player is. So, the situation will be unclear and never-ending controversies will take place, hopefully it will not escalate to the point as it was between 1993 - 2006, but, if a group of Russian players are excluded from FIDE and they form their own international federation, then we will have a second schism.

The last time when top players were excluded by a tyrannical force because of their political views was back in the days when the Soviet Union still existed and it did everything to prevent the likes of Kasparov from playing in the candidates matches. Now FIDE repeats the same pattern the Soviets applied.
arzi arzi 6/19/2022 02:16
Lajos, watch the official site with your computer and with your phone or tablet Lichess. Both are in live. One with the live comments and the other with cloud engine. It is easier and faster to browse between different games with Lichess and you can still hear the live comments from computer.
arzi arzi 6/19/2022 02:01
Sorry, Lajos, but Karjakin himself ruined his chances to play in this tournament. Simple.

Yoy don't have to download anything if you are using Lichess to just follow the games. All those four games in one page. Click one of the games and activate Stockfish cloud. Simple.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/19/2022 01:27
@arzi "Lajos, friendly game between a winner and Karjakin? Why on earth?"

Simple. Karjakin qualified outright to this tournament, like everybody else (except Ding Liren). So, he should have been a candidate. Since he was prevented from that via political means rather than the superiority of other players, the abnormal situation created by FIDE results in a potential of never-ending controversies and maybe the split of the chess federation last seen between 1993-2006. If the winner, whoever that might be would play a friendly match with Karjakin, then it could lead to two possible results:

1. The winner of the candidates tournament wins, in which case any controversies would become weak and illegitimate.
2. Karjakin wins, in which case his claim for the world championship candidates would strengthen and FIDE would be pressured to fix the mess it created

In any case, matters would be clarified and the creation of a separate chess federation would be prevented.

"Lajos, use Lichess to analyze."

Anyone can download the games or analyze them at other sources, but that will not fix this bug, will it?
arzi arzi 6/18/2022 09:36
Nakamura back to business.
arzi arzi 6/18/2022 08:09
Lajos, friendly game between a winner and Karjakin? Why on earth? Maybe a game between a winner and some death ukrainian chess fan? Ouh, it is not possible, right?
arzi arzi 6/18/2022 08:03
Lajos, use Lichess to analyze. All 4 games are there, with Stockfish cloud.
Mamack1 Mamack1 6/18/2022 06:39
Karjakin is entirely the architect of his own misfortunes. The end.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/18/2022 03:53
When I am analyzing games (at https://en.chessbase.com/post/fide-candidates-2022-r1), clicking through the moves, I am often redirected to a random page, which makes it difficult to concentrate on the game. Is this a bug or is this intentional?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/18/2022 01:39
Good to see the candidates unfolding and commentary being reenabled. Whatever the result, Karjakin was not fairly matched against the other candidates, despite the fact that he qualified. This will give reasons for endless controversies. Maybe a "friendly" match between the winner and Karjakin after the candidates tournament would clarify matters.
Ty Riprock Ty Riprock 6/17/2022 11:57
This is already not aging well after 1 round! Ding & Naka have already dropped whole points (although Naka's loss to Fabi was predicted), not a great start for guys projected to finish 1st & 3rd
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 6/17/2022 11:46
@WillScarlett, Rensch is being sarcastic, it's his style. It's all a joke, he doesn't mean any disrespect.
Mamack1 Mamack1 6/17/2022 11:01
Well thinking about it that *might* be a motivation for the champ.

Maybe its just that he finds defending his title every 2 years or so a bit much.

Would every 3 years (as from 1948 until the 1990s) be OK?