Today is the day: The first round of the Candidates’ Tournament 2014 in the Russian city Chanty-Mansijsk is about to begin. After the eight candidates who are the potential new World Champions have celebrated the opening ceremony yesterday, they will get started on the one-on-one duels today. The overall victory of the tournament will compete against Magnus Carlsen from November 6th to 25th of this year for the World Championship title of 2014.
Final winner will be the player with the highest total score. In the event of an equality in score, the winner is determined through:
- Direct comparison between the two players who are equal in score
- The number of victories
- The secondary evaluation according to Sonneborn-Berger.
The combination is candidates is promising; we will give you a brief overview of playing style and special skills of all participants.
Visvanathan Anand (IND)
Qualified through Chess World Championship 2013
Throughout his career, Anand has worked dedicatedly on his technique-related shortcomings in the final game phase of the game and is today considered a player who has no obvious weaknesses in any stages of the game. His game is characterized by universal style, but he never fails to surprise with different systems which makes him a tough opponent. He is gifted in comprehending general features of the positioning quickly and intuitively and thus manages to recognize tactical changes timely and respond with proper counter actions.
Vladimir Kramnik (RUS)
Qualifies as winner of the Chess World Cup in 2013
Kramnik is a player who likes to stay on the safe side by avoiding risk. His style is characterized by the influence of Karpov’s and his opening and middle game preparations. After he was criticized to be calling for draws too often, he reacted with an exceedingly offensive playing tactic. His specialty is the Russian and Berlin Defense as well as the Catalonian opening (with White chessmen).
Dmitri Andreikin (RUS)
Qualifies through 2nd place at Chess World Cup 2013
Andreikin has been working hard on his playing technique in the past and improved the shortcomings in terms of his opening repertoire. He has always been eager to ‘manage everything’ and therefore stands out with his universal playing style and his professional way of reacting to challenges. Despite occasional difficulties in recognizing his own advantages and the benefits of his chances, he plays proactively and is hard to take by surprise.
Vesselin Topalov (BUL)
Qualifies as winner of the FIDE Grand Prix in 2012 / 2013
Topalov is the passionate master of the middle game. He loves putting his opponents under pressure from the first move by playing aggressive variations and keeping the upper hand. His major weaknesses are his defense and the ease that has come to cause him many mistakes during his career. Even after a rough start he manages to catch up through excellent calculation skills and his intimidating quality sacrifices. Due to good preparation time is not a threat to him.
Qualifies through 2nd place at the FIDE Grand Prix in 2012 / 2013
Also known as Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Azerbaijani is known for his aggressive and straightforward playing style. He likes experimenting with extraordinary openings (Aklehine Defense or Budapest Gambit) and manages to confuse his opponents.
Levon Aronian (ARM)
Qualifies through position in the World Rankings
Aronian’s biggest strength is the final stage of the game. He considers the preparation of the opening stage his own weakness. Playing with White he prefers closed openings, with Black he often times tends towards the Enclosed Spaniard. To closed openings he usually reacts in various ways with Slavic, Queen’s Indian or Nimzo-Indian. He likes trying to rattle his competitors with confusing positions.
Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
Qualifies through placement in World Rankings
Karjakin prefers opening the game the Sicilian way – regardless of playing Black or White. The Russian who currently ranks 9th in worldwide standings plays the Spanish Opening and the Najdorf-Variation of the Sicilian Defense just as often.
Piotr Svidler (RUS)
Nominated by tournament organizers
Even if it was rather predictable that Russia was going to give the Wild Card to a fellow countryman, this nomination led to much disappointment. Half of the participants are Russian citizens and of the remaining four players none originate from the Western World. Nevertheless, nominating Svidler was a reasonable choice. He convinced at the previous Candidates’ Tournament by scoring only half a point less than Magnus Carlsen. Also, he has obtained seven Russian Championships so far – which is a record. We can look forward to Sicilian and Spanish openings in White and Grunfeld-Indian Defense when playing the Black chess pieces.
In the event of a player dropping out, Fabiano Caruana is ready to take the open spot.
Until March 30th, all tournament participants will face each other players twice. Therefore, we have 14 rounds ahead of us that are scheduled as follows:
March 11th: Arrival
March 12th: Opening Ceremony & Players’ Meeting
March 13th – 15th: Rounds 1 – 3
March 16th: Free
March 17th – 19th: Rounds 4 – 6
March 20th: Free
March 21st – 23rd: Rounds 7 – 9
March 24th: Free
March 25th – 27th: Rounds 10 – 12
March 28th: Free
March 29th – 30th: Rounds 13 – 14
March 31st: Closing Ceremony
April 1st: Departure
In 1st round today, Andreikin plays against Kramnik, Karjakin against Svidler, Mamedyarov against Topalov, and Anand against Aronian.
Among experts, Aronian is considered top-favorite player of the event. Let’s see whether or not he can fulfill these high expectations.
written by Sarah, translated by Birthe