Levon Aronian Bandwagon
As many of you know, the stage is set for the 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin, and all eight players have been selected to participate in this prestigious tournament.
It appears that in a field of many strong players (Caruana, So, Mamedyarov, etc), that Levon Aronian is the undisputed favorite to win the event.
Almost flat-out half of chess.com voters chose the Armenian to trump the event!
And the comments don't lie either!
All that to say, I am not critical of our members, as Levon has many recent credentials on his belt:
- Won the Grenke Classic tournament with an undefeated 5.5/7 score (4 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses)
- Finished clear first by a full point in the Norway Chess Tournament, the strongest event of the year with a performance rating of over 2900
- Scored +1 in the Sinquefield Cup, and won the subsequent St. Louis Rapid/Blitz event (ahead of legend Gary Kasparov! )
- Winning the 2017 World Cup was no small feat!
- As a bonus, he came very close last Candidates tournament.
While the field only consists of amazing players, their cases for winning the event are not as convincing:
- Fabiano Caruana rarely wins a super-tournament, so it should be at least somewhat surprising to see him overcome the 14-round event...
ShakhiyarMamedyarov may not be a bad choice for runner-up, though he is relatively new to the 2800 club, and this will likely be his first test. I don't think he will flunk that test, though I also don't think 2018 is his year to try and dethrone Magnus.
- Don't be surprised to see Vladimir Kramnik do well in the event, though he is getting old, and does not appear to have the hunger and motivation for a WCC title as the likes of Aronian and Caruana.
- Wesley So is not quite the same as he was in 2016. If he were, we may be talking about the Wesley So bandwagon instead!
- While there is no reason to bet against them, it will be very tough for Ding Liren, Alexander Grischuk, and Sergey Karjakin to break through and win the event (can you believe 2016 Candidates winner Sergey Karjakin is the LOWEST rated player on the field?!).
All that to say, are you on the Levon Aronian bandwagon? Or do you have your own favorite to win the event? Please share in the comments!
Until next time...