2014 Candidates Preview

Candidates 2014
L-R(top: Aronian, Kramnik, Topalov middle: Anand, Karjakin bottom: Svidler, Mamedyarov, Andreikin)

Today I’m going to be running through the list of candidates and what I perceive to be their respective chances for winning the tournament. Last year it was fairly easy to determine who would be the next challenger; Magnus Carlsen was a clear favorite and Levon Aronian was the number two choice. For a while that seemed to be playing out by the book until dark horse challenger (if he can even be considered a dark horse) Vladimir Kramnik surged late in the event to tie Magnus (only to have his hopes dashed by tiebreaks). This year things are a bit unclear; the obvious favorite (by rating) Aronian doesn’t seem to dominate in the way one might expect him to in these types of events; he always seems to lose steam and come up short. The order in which I have placed each player is the order that I think they are likely to finish in the final cross table. Without further ado here are the players ordered by rating (as of the February Top 100 list):

World Rank Name Rating (Feb. Sup.) Games
2 Levon Aronian 2826 11
3 Vladimir Kramnik 2787 0
4 Veselin Topalov 2785 0
8 Viswanathan Anand 2773 0
9 Sergey Karjakin 2766 11
11 Peter Svidler 2758 0
13 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2757 0
39 Dmitry Andreikin 2709 0

I was able compile some interesting statistics using each players win-loss-draw ratio against the other members of this tournament. I based these values off of the chessgames.com database so there may be a few games missing (albeit unlikely for players of this caliber). Additionally I only used games that had a longer time control (as opposed to rapid and blitz games which they will not be playing save a tiebreak). Some of my findings include:

  • Andreikin (the lowest rated member of the group) has the fewest games against this opposition.
  • The most classical games against this group was played by Kramnik (he had matches with both Topalov and Anand and has been very active the last few years unlike Topalov who seemed to take a break).
  • Anand has the highest +/- of the whole group losing only once to Aronian.

I have sorted this table based on the “Overall Win %” of each individual player. The +/- that I am using is the the last 5 games win % – the overall win %. I believe this metric is useful in situations where one player is much older than another and therefore had more games that were mismatched in the database (ie. the younger player was just coming up and the older player was already well established). Although I’m sure statisticians everywhere are weeping and gnashing their teeth (let me know in the comments how terrible I am at basic statistics). Perhaps I take this moment to remind everyone not to rely to heavily on these statistics when making your predictions (I sure didn’t).

Name Games Overall Win % Last 5 Win % +/-
Veselin Topalov 187 53.48 48.33 -5.15
Vladimir Kramnik 223 52.91 50.00 -2.81
Dmitry Andreikin 22 52.27 52.78 .51
Viswanathan Anand 218 51.83 58.06 6.23
Levon Aronian 140 50.36 53.33 2.97
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 73 47.94 50.00 2.06
Peter Svidler 135 45.93 44.29 -1.64
Sergey Karjakin 97 43.30 47.14 3.84

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