Corus preview: Grandmastergroup A

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Today we finish our series of previews with group A, in which no less than seven players from the current top ten participate. Group B has to do with only two 2700 players, but the highest group has just two players under 2700! A mag-ni-fi-cent field.

Despite being second on the FIDE list, Vishy Anand tops Corus' list of participants, probably a little gesture from the organizers to the world champ, or simply because nobody has won the tournament more often than Vishy (five times). He had a tremendous year, except for one tournament... Corus 2007. He surely wants to go for that sixth trophy. This is also the case with Kramnik of course, who at the Tal Memorial again proved that besides matches, he can do pretty well in tournaments too. At the opening ceremony he looked very relaxed and cheerful, and this gives me the feeling he could do extremely well this year.


A bit of a question mark is Topalov. He didn't play that much last year - in the second half of 2007, I think only some games in the European Team Championships and the tournament in Vitoria, which, in fact, he won. Can he handle such a long inactive period? He might need a couple of rounds to get himself into shape, and put up one of his trademark comebacks again...

Mamedyarov didn't do extremely well in 2007 (except for the Essent Tournament) and I have decided for him that the new year will bring new successes. I think Da Shakh will actually be playing for the tournament victory. Gut feeling, that's all.

Let's grab together a group of players who are just too strong to finish below the tenth place, but probably won't win this tournament. I'd say Leko, Gelfand, Adams and, unfortunately, Ivanchuk should belong to this group. Although I do think Chucky will play well here - after the opening ceremony had finished, he was the first to go for his jacket and leave. Focus Maximus! And Leko, well, he did win the tournament in 2005 and he's been as solid as always this year, so who knows...

Together with Topalov, Aronian and Radjabov won last year's tournament. In Mexico Aronian couldn't answer the high hopes of his fans, so he definitely has some extra motivation, and he also made a good impression on me at the opening. Hm, I'm realizing this tournament has a high number of favorites! Because Radjabov is in excellent shape as well, after winning the 2nd ACP Rapid World Cup last week.

We're arriving at Magnus Carlsen, who is the second question mark in my opinion. Because of his age, we cannot expect him to continue his successes, but he kept on surprising us in 2007, all the way down to a great World Cup. Statistically speaking, isn't it about time for a bad tournament in between? Let's hope not.

It's good to see Mickey Adams back in the world elite. He used to be Kasparov's Angstgegner, with his very unique, positional playing style that I've personally always admired. Although Nigel will always be more world famous than Mickey, it's Mickey who will be sitting along the wall, instead close to the audience, this year.

Another player we happily welcome back in Wijk aan Zee is Judit Polgar. Like Bacrot, a parent of two little kids, but she did start playing more and more tournaments in 2007. I predict a final result somewhere in the middle of the standings, with some pretty scalps and some terrible losses, but always many beautiful smiles. As far as the score is concerned, I predict the same for Eljanov (who promoted from the B group) and Van Wely. Although down on the list, I have the feeling they will do better. One way or another Eljanov must be profiting from the successes of his compatriots, and Van Wely must be profiting from his work for Kramnik last year. (Who... happens to be his opponent in the first round!)

Perhaps it's better to say that this group has no favourite. Therefore it's all the more interesting to ask the question:

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