Aronian clear favorite to win Candidates

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
AronianAccording to the ChessVibes readers, Levon Aronian is the clear favorite to win the FIDE Candidates matches which start tomorrow in Kazan, Russia. Based on 1,000+ votes, Armenia's number one grandmaster gained an astonishing 65.19%, followed by ex-World Champion Vladimir Kramnik with 16.57%.

It's no surprise that Levon Aronian tops our poll of last week. The Armenian grandmaster is the world's number three and the only player among the participants of the Candidates with a rating over 2800. The margin with which Aronian is taking the lead is quite astonishing, though: 65.19% of the voters clicked on his name - almost two out of three chess fans believes he will win.

Vladimir Kramnik, also unsurprisingly, follows, with 16.57% of the votes. The Russian grandmaster beat Garry Kasparov in the year 2000 to become World Champion. After losing the title, Kramnik remained at the top and played another World Title match in 2008. Currently he's the world's number four.

The third player in the poll is Veselin Topalov, who scored 8.01% of the votes. The Bulgarian became FIDE World Champion in 2005 and lost his title in a reunification match with Kramnik a year later. In early 2009 he won a match against Gata Kamsky and qualified for the World Title match against Vishy Anand in 2010, which he lost. At the moment the Bulgarian is the world's numer seven.

Gata Kamsky (USA) himself scored 3.04% of the votes, followed by Boris Gelfand (2.12%), Teimour Radjabov (2.03%), Shakhryiar Mamedyarov (1.66%) and Alexander Grischuk (1.38%).

In the news The Russian chess site Chess News is on top of everything and already posted some interesting details. Apparently we can expect similar online coverage as during the Tal Memorial, with Sergei Rublevsky and Alexander Khalifman as commentators, together with host Mark Gluhovsky. Hopefully this also means we'll have the excellent live video images (especially since ChessVibes will not be in Kazan due to reasons unrelated to chess).

Chess News has also mentioned that there will be a glass screen between the podium and the spectators, so that the players won't be able to see anyone in the audience. The most interesting details leaked by the Russians, however, is the fact that Sergey Karjakin and Zahar Efimenko will be assisting Vladimir Kramnik as seconds.

Pairings The matches will be played over four games. Two days after these matches end, the second round starts, with the winner of Topalov-Kamsky against the winner of Gelfand-Mamedyarov and the winner of Kramnik-Radjabov against the winner of Aronian-Grischuk. These matches will also consist of four games. The final match will consist of six games.

  Quarterfinals (best of 4) Semifinals (best of 4) Final (best of 6)
  1  BulgariaVeselin Topalov 0  
8  United StatesGata Kamsky 0  
4  IsraelBoris Gelfand 0
  5  AzerbaijanShakhriyar Mamedyarov 0  
  3  ArmeniaLevon Aronian 0  
6  RussiaAlexander Grischuk 0  
2  RussiaVladimir Kramnik 0
  7  AzerbaijanTeimour Radjabov 0  

Bracket courtesy of Wikipedia

The dates for the Candidates matches are May 3rd-27th. At the moment of writing the opening ceremony is about to begin in Kazan, where the drawing of colours for all the rounds will be conducted. The first games will be played tomorrow - the official website is

Players Veselin Topalov qualified as the runner up of the previous World Championship. Vladimir Kramnik qualified by rating. Levon Aronian was the winner of the FIDE Grand-Prix 2008-2009 and Boris Gelfand was the winner of the FIDE World Cup 2009. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was kept as the wild card, originally picked by organizers in Baku, Azerbaijan, before the event was moved to Kazan.

Teimour Radjabov came second in the FIDE Grand-Prix and Alexander Grischuk also qualified from this GP. The Russian replaces Magnus Carlsen who decided not to play early November, 2010. Gata Kamsky is in as the runner up of the Challengers Match 2009.

Time control The time control will be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds increment per move, starting from move 61. Tiebreaks will consist of four games of 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment, two blitz games (five minutes plus three seconds) and one sudden death game (five against 4, with 3 seconds increment from move 61, and draw odds for Black).

Prizes The four losers of the first round matches will each receive a (minimum) amount of 30,000 euros. The two losers of the second round matches will each receive a (minimum) amount of 60,000 euros. The minimum prize fund for the final match of the 3rd round is 180,000 euros which will be divided 50%-50% between the two players (90,000 euros each).

Kazan The matches will be held in Kazan, Russia. It's the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan is the sixth largest city of Russia. From Wikipedia we learn that it lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. The Kazan Kremlin is a World Heritage Site and in April 2009, the Russian Patent Office granted Kazan the right to brand itself as the "Third Capital" of Russia. Besides, in 2009 it was chosen as the "sports capital of Russia".


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