Early Candidates 2016 Predictions

Early Candidates 2016 Predictions

NM SmarterChess

The next Candidates tournament will take place in March 2016 to determine who will challenge Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship.  The field is set unless any of the participants decline their invitation to play.

Qualification path Player Age Rating
Loser of the World Chess Championship 2014 match India Viswanathan Anand 46 2796
The top two finishers in the Chess World Cup 2015 Russia Sergey Karjakin 26 2766
Russia Peter Svidler 39 2751
The top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15 United States Fabiano Caruana 23 2787
United States Hikaru Nakamura 28 2793
The top two players with highest average 2015 rating who played in World Cup or Grand Prix Bulgaria Veselin Topalov 41 2803
Netherlands Anish Giri 21 2784
Wild card nomination of Organizers (Agon), with FIDE rating in July 2015 at least 2725 Armenia Levon Aronian[12] 33 2788


To make these predictions I have looked at all of the head-to-head games between the participants since January 2014.  The tournament will be a double round robin, with each player playing 14 games.  Based on the betting odds and the player ratings this should be a very close field.  The odds listed are from the Marathon Bet website. Predictions are my own based on intuition and game data.


Peter Svidler (FIDE 2751, Odds 14-1, Prediction 5 points)

I believe Svidler is going to have a very tough tournament with the black pieces against the world's elite.  As White I'm predicting a win against Topalov and a loss against Karjakin.  As Black Svidler will lose against Aronian, Caruana, Topalov, and Karjakin.  It's very important in the Candidates tournament to win first place and the other players will be out to score wins as White against Peter.  Svidler will especially have trouble as Black against Carauana.

Veselin Topalov (FIDE 2780, Odds 7-1, Prediction 5.5 points)

Veselin will have a similar problem to Svidler with the Black pieces.  His sharp style in the Sicilian Najdorf will backfire and players will pick apart his opening mistakes.  Topalov will tie for the most decisive games with 7/14.  With the White pieces I expect wins over Nakamura and Svidler.  Topalov has scored 3.5/4 against Nakamura recently with the White pieces.  With Black Topalov will drop games to Giri, Aronian, Caruana, Anand, and Svidler.  Topalov has the worst track record with Black in this field and will have extra problems against Giri and Aronian.

Vishy Anand (FIDE 2784, Odds 12-1, Prediction 7 points)

Anand is the 3rd strongest with the White pieces and the 3rd weakest with the Black pieces.  This will place him at a 50% score for the tournament.  With the White pieces he will beat Aronian and Topalov.  With the Black pieces he will lose to Aronian and Nakamura.  Anand's chances to move to a +2 score or higher are very slim in this field.

Hikaru Nakamura (FIDE 2787, Odds 16-5, Prediction 7 points)

This is one of my surprise predictions of the tournament.  Hikaru is the favorite to win the event and has also had a very strong year.  With the White pieces Hikaru will beat Caruana and Anand, but lose to Aronian.  With the Black pieces Hikaru will lose to Giri and Topalov, but score a win against Anand.  If Hikaru doesn't score a win against Anand look for him to have a negative score in the tournament!  He has the most trouble as Black against Topalov.

Sergei Karjakin (FIDE 2764, Odds 9-2, Prediction 7.5 points)

Sergei is known for his extremely high draw rate and I don't expect that to change for this tournament.  He will play very cautiously and pick his spots to play for a win carefully.  I expect Sergei to beat Svidler with both colors and lose one game to Aronian with Black.  The odds of him winning the whole event are slim in my opinion because he doesn't win much with the White pieces.

Fabiano Caruana (FIDE 2787, Odds 4-1, Prediction 7.5 points)

Fabiano was the pick of most fans to face Carlsen back when he dominated the Sinquefield cup and was rated over 2800.  Recently Fabiano has come back down to earth and will place near the middle of the pack in this event.  With the White pieces Fabi will score wins against Aronian and Svidler.  As Black, he will lose games to Aronian and Nakamura.  I do expect Fabiano to score 1.5/2 against Topalov, and I'm predicting a win with the Black pieces.  Fabiano is in the top 3 to win the tournament and his odds seem right at about 4-1.

Anish Giri (FIDE 2803, Odds 5-1, Prediction 8 points)

I believe Anish is the strongest player in the field at the moment, and also the most likely to dethrone Magnus out of the potential World Championship match-ups.  Giri is extremely solid with Black and he is starting to win more games with White.  I expect Giri to only have two decisive games this tournament and they will both be wins.  Giri's downfall in this format will be that his win rate is too low.  Wins with White against Nakamura and Topalov are to be expected to give him a +2 score.  

That leaves us with one player as my pick to win the 2016 candidates tournament!

Levon Aronian!!  (FiDE 2793, Odds 19-5, Prediction 8.5 points)

One of the most liked players in chess is back and hungry for a championship.  Levon scored +3 in the Sinquefield Cup and +1 in the London Chess Classic.  Against this field Aronian is winning almost 40% of his games with White and he has the highest expected score with White by a wide Margin.  Aronian will score wins with White against Caruana, Topalov, and Svidler.  With Black he will score wins against Nakamura and Karjakin to help out his cause.  He will lose with Black to Caruana and Anand.  This leaves Aronian tied for the most decisive games (7/14) and 5 of them will be wins.  Look for Levon to make this a very exciting event, especially when he's playing White.  His combination of 1.c4 and 1.d4 has been causing players problems recently.


Please leave your own predictions below!