Reviewing The Candidates

Reviewing The Candidates

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Hello there. Welcome to the Lightning Reports! Today I’ll be reviewing the 2022 Fide Candidates tournament as I look at how each individual player fared in the event and see how far off my predictions were.

As a reminder, I predicted that the final standings would look like this:

  1. Ding Liren
  2. Fabiano Caruana
  3. Alireza Firouzja
  4. Richard Rapport
  5. Jan-Krzysztof Duda
  6. Ian Nepomniachtchi
  7. Hikaru Nakamura
  8. Teimour Radjabov

How, here's what the final standings actually looked like...

  1. Ian Neponiachtchi (9.5/14)
  2. Ding Liren (8/14)
  3. Teimour Radjabov (7.5/14)
  4. Hikaru Nakamura (7.5/14)
  5. Fabiano Caruana (6.5/14)
  6. Alireza Firouzja (6/14)
  7. Jan-Krzysztof Duda (5.5/14)
  8. Richard Rapport (5.5/14)

Yeah, so, without saying much, you can already see I was a way off with some of these predictions. But are we honestly surprised? I mean, I'm a little surprised since my predictions mostly seemed so reasonable at the time. But I mean, my predictions rarely go well in the world of chess. Oh well. I tried, and that’s half the battle, mkay? Lol regardless, let’s take a look at the actual final standings and see just how far off my predictions were!


The prediction: 4th place

How he actually did: 8th place.

Well. Uh. Last place. Oops. I said he was the dark horse of the event and would do well. And then he went and finished in last place. On tiebreaks, yes. But still. I thought he’d finish in 4th while giving himself chances to even win the event. But nope. Not quite. It was a rough event overall. There are some bright spots, however. His games were pretty fun to watch, including his win over Duda, in which his final two moves were both deemed brilliant. 

There's another bright spot. Rapport, who is honestly not that well-known compared to other top players, picked up some new fans from this event due to his choice of style, both on and off the board. So good for him I guess. Should be nice for him. Yeah. This guy is pretty dang good, and he's fun to watch. He might just be a little too reckless at times, it seems. Too bad he finished in last place. Hopefully, he gets another chance to play in the candidates. 


The prediction: 5th place

How he actually did: 7th place

Ah, Duda. This is one of the very few predictions I don’t feel too bad about. I said Duda would hold his own against the high-rated players and finish in 5th. 7th isn’t 5th, but I feel like it’s close enough… right? Ok but seriously, Duda fared pretty well in this event. Even though he nearly finished in last place (technically he did tie for last, but Rapport lost the tiebreak, so Duda is 7th), he showed he wasn’t an easy out, and he managed to beat some strong players, including Fabiano Caruana. 

Duda is undoubtedly disappointed with his performance, but in my opinion, he did fairly well. Even though he tied for last place, he still did well. And I dunno about you, but I'm hoping to see Duda compete in the Candidates again someday. Give him a few years and he might just be among the favorites. Assuming he learns from his mistakes in this event.


The prediction: 3rd place

How he actually did: 6th place

Yikes. I did not see this one coming. To be fair, I don’t think anybody did. Most people thought Alireza was one of the favorites, myself included. And yet, had he lost his round 14 game against Caruana, he would have finished in clear last place. Crazy, I know. I had the kid finishing in 3rd place, which I thought was a very reasonable prediction. At least he finished strong with a win over Fabi. 

However, young Firouzja showed impatience, often pushing too far for something that wasn’t there in his games, and it backfired tremendously at times. And let’s not forget, this dude legit played bullet for 7 hours between rounds at one point. Even I know not to do that! Alireza Firouzja was not ready for this, and that’s ok. He’s young, and he will likely get a chance in the future to redeem himself. I still believe he's a future world champ. But for that to happen, he must learn from this.


The prediction: 2nd place

How he actually did: 5th place

Fabi… what the hecc bro? 5th place? 6.5/14? That was shocking. Like really, legitimately shocking to me. So, heading into the second half of the event, everyone seemed to expect Nepo to collapse and allow Fabi to win. If you thought that would happen, you had it all wrong. It was Fabi who fell apart, allowing Nepo to run away from the event. This was truly shocking to me, I never thought Fabi of all players would tilt otb, especially in the biggest event of the year. He started so well, opening up the event with a win over Hikaru. 

The good news is that his score after the first half of the event was 5/7, which is very very good. The bad news? He lost 4 of his final 7 games, plus 3 draws. 0 wins. His score in the second half of the event was 1.5/7. Let that sink in. That shows you how tough this tournament is as Fabi is one of the most prepared players out there. Now, I predicted Fabi would finish in 2nd place, I know. And I was sure he would finish at least in the top 3. But I was wrong. Hopefully, Fabi gets another chance in the candidates, cause if this ends up being his last one… yikes.


The prediction: 7th place

How he actually did: 4th place

I was really shocked by Hikaru. Like, actually, cause I didn't think he'd do well at all. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a Hikaru hater, but I’m definitely not a fan. I thought he would do very poorly here... I mean, he says he’s a streamer now, not a pro chess player. He said he literally didn’t care. The man made YouTube videos recapping each of his games after every round. And yet, he did very well. He got Caruana to tilt otb. Shocking. I didn't know that could happen to someone like Fabi. 

In the end, he managed to finish in 4th place and very nearly finished in 2nd place, which would have meant playing in the world championship match if Magnus doesn’t defend his title. I had Hikaru finishing in 7th place. My bad, guys. I was way off. Hikaru’s still got it, he can still play and beat the top players in the game.


The prediction: 8th place

How he actually did: 3rd place

Uh. Confusion. I honestly thought this guy was washed up and would lose more games than anyone. I had him finishing in last place, and yet, he was very close to 2nd place in the end. Admittedly, I am shocked by how well he did in this event. My bad. I was wrong. He can still play. I was rather impressed with his seemingly easy win over Ding Liren in round 13. Not bad. 

Radjabov can still play at the highest level and be successful. To be fair, saying he’d get last place wasn’t that unreasonable at the time… but wow. I was wrong. Very wrong. This man had a really fantastic event.


The prediction: 1st place

How he actually did: 2nd place

King Ding had me worried early on. Having predicted he would win this event, I must publicly apologize for jinxing him. Nobody for whom I predict victory is allowed to win. That was my bad. Anyways, it was concerning to see him at the bottom of the standings earlier on. But ultimately, Ding managed to fight back, winning 3 straight games at one point to move into a tie for 2nd place, and then coming up clutch in the final round to take down Hikaru for 2nd place. This is fairly important as it could be his golden ticket to the world chess championship, assuming Magnus decides not to embarrass Nepo again. 

Ding had a strong 2nd half and took 2nd place. Not bad. Not bad at all. Overall, I can’t be too happy about my predictions for Ding since I had him winning and he didn’t. But I’m still pretty happy, as I was right about him finishing in the top 3 at least. And 2nd place is close to 1st place. I’ll take it. Hopefully, Magnus decides not to play Nepo again and we get to see Ding-Nepo in the world chess championship.


The prediction: 6th place

How he actually did: 1st place

This was my worst prediction of them all, and that’s saying something. I predicted Nepo would do poorly, finishing in 6th place (Yes, yes I did have Duda finishing ahead of Nepo…), as I didn’t believe he was consistent enough to win a 2nd straight candidates tournament. But, he proved early on that he came to play and was ready. He started with a win over Ding Liren, which set the tone for his big event. 

And even after such a strong start, people thought he would collapse. Nahhh. Nepo finished the event with 5 wins and 9 draws. No losses. Truly impressive. I was a fool to doubt Nepo as I did. I, like many, remembered his world championship collapse, that being too fresh in my memory to predict success. 


Good job, you made it to the end. I hope you enjoyed this post. I mean, sure, literally none of my predictions came true, but of course, that's nothing new. And it's fine, cause this was fun for me, and hopefully for you as well. I enjoyed keeping up with the Candidates. The games, the coverage of the match, the faces Nepo and Hikaru made... yeah, it was fun. Now I can’t wait to predict the 2023 world chess championship match. I’ll probably pick Magnus to win (yes, I think he will play Nepo again), so that means he will end up losing. Sorry in advance. 

See future blogs in the image above. Or don't. Your call.

My next blog should be posted in about 2 weeks, as I continue my Questioning NCPS Series (part 1, part 2) with part 3. That should be fun. After that, I’ve got another J2NM post coming, and that will be all for July. In August though I’ll give you my recaps of the Denker and US Open. So if you enjoy my blogs, stay tuned, I’ve got plenty more coming soon.

Anyways, thanks so much for reading, I truly hope you enjoyed this. Nothing better than seeing a dude predict the results of a big event, get them all wrong, and laugh at himself for it, right? Yeah. Totally. Lol, I’ll do better next time, maybe. Regardless, leave a comment below, and lemme know what you thought of the blog and the event. For now, that’s all I’ve got for you. Cya in the comments!