2014 Candidates Tournament will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia between 11-Mar-2014 and 1-Apr-2014 (starting in 3 weeks). The players having qualified for this super tournament are:
1. Viswanathan Anand (IND, former world champion)
2. Vladimir Kramnik (RUS, world cup 2013 winner)
3. Dmitry Andreikin (RUS, world cup 2013 finalist)
4. Veselin Topalov (BUL, grand-prix 2012-13 winner)
5. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, grand-prix 2012-13 runner-up)
6. Levon Aronian (ARM, rating list 2012-13)
7. Sergey Karjakin (RUS, rating list 2012-13)
8. Peter Svidler (RUS, host nominee)
Tourney´s format is a double round robin, with 14 rounds to be played. The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
Enough for information, now some opinion. Who do you think will be the brave one to challenge Magnus Carlsen? Well, I guess there are two clear favourites: Aronian and Kramnik. The latter hasnt been playing much lately but has a very large experience in this kind of tournaments and is definitely a clear candidate. On the otherhand, Levon Aronian has been playing probably at his peak lately (World Team Championship, Tata, Zurich), with tons of confidence and really playing almost perfect chess. Moreover, in his latest interviews he has stated he will take it easy in this tournament, try not to put too much pressure on him, as it seems he couldn´t handle the pressure very well in previous candidates, where he was a clear favourite.
As for Anand, I don´t see him winning in Khanty-Mansiysk as the WCH Match in Chennai affected him way too much and his game hasnt been the same since then (best example of it being Zurich, where he performed rather badly).
Svidler played OK in London last year and he could be a decisive factor, so dont underestimate him. Topalov is a complete mystery to me, hadn´t played that much chess in last 3-4 years, might be a very hard nut to crack or just pass by without being noticed.
And what about the rest? Sure they are very strong GMs but honestly speaking I don´t see Karjakin, Andreikin or Mamedyarov with serious chances to be the Challenger, maybe lack of experience in this high-pressure ovens. Let us see if they make me swallow my words.
So, who´s your favourite to face Magnus the Great? What´s your prediction?
PD: as always, I´ll do my best to have a daily coverage of the tournament in my youtube channel, analyzing the games with all my enthusiasm.
See you there!