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Morelia-Linares Predictions Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
February 15, 2008
Topalov, mobbed for autographs in Morelia, 2006. Photo Cathy Rogers
Eight of the World's top players begin the most elite round robin of the year today, at 4:30 EST. The event is split between  Morelia, Mexico (Feb 15-23) and Linares, Spain Feb 28-March 7. Check out the tournament pairings and schedule here. CLO asked four prominent chess personalities for their predictions on who wins the event.

GM Alexander Onischuk
has seconded Veselin Topalov. Although his number one pick was Anand, he did give Topalov a higher % to win than any other prognosticator. Is he slightly biased or as a participant in elite super GM events himself , does he just know more?

Alex's picks

Anand 25
Topalov 24
Aronian 20
Carlsen 13
Leko 6
Radjabov 5
Ivanchuk 4
Shirov 3

Chess Journalist of the Year Mig Greengard will be hosting the live radio coverage on the ICC. He'll be joined by an exciting lineup of Grandmaster commentators. Check out chess.fm for details.

Mig said: "Predictions are a fool’s game, of course, which is why I’ve always enjoyed them. You’re wrong 90% of the time but you get to gloat for years if you get lucky...Picking Radjabov to win Corus last year was pretty good. But I also picked Leko to win the San Luis world championship, and said it looked like Carlsen wasn’t ready to play Linares last year, so there you go!"

Mig's picks

Anand 25
Topalov 20
 Aronian 15
Carlsen 10
 Radjabov 10
 Leko 8
 Ivanchuk 7
 Shirov 5

Canadian-born New York based GM Pascal Charbonneau wrote his 2007 World Championship predictions with IM Irina Krush. Pascal also gave Anand a 25% chance to win the event. Who will break the trend?

Pascal's picks

Anand 25
Topalov 20
Carlsen 15
 Aronian 15
Shirov 8
Ivanchuk 7
 Leko 5
Radjabov 5

Not only is USCL commisioner IM Greg Shahade getting back into speed chess , he also seems to be pursuing a career in speed writing. I asked for his predictions, and about 30 minutes later, I get this passionate treatise:

I find the organizers make a lot of lame invites to tournaments like Linares. Do they ever invite any new blood? Let's take a look at the invites:

Anand: Ok he's great. I'll give him 40% chance to win.

Topalov: Also an exciting player and a good invite, I'll give him 15% chance to win.

Carlsen: He's been invited to a bunch of stuff lately but he deserves it, as he's super young, ridiculously talented and the fans love him. I'll give him 10%

Aronian: Also a great player, whom Anand even called the favorite to win. I'll give him 15%, directly going against Anand's advice.

Shirov: When's the last time he won a major tournament? Of course it's almost impossible to remember. Yeah he's exciting but he's been around forever playing in every tournament, and there are tons of fresh and hungry young players who never get a chance. Also he doesn't randomly sacrifice all his pieces quite as much as he did in his youth. No fun. 4% to win.

Leko: Yawn. Nothing more exciting than watching Leko play. Nothing interesting about him except he has a high ELO rating. I couldn't care less about him, yet he gets invited to basically every big tournament for 10 years. No room for guys like Xiangzhi Bu, Yue Wang, Nakamura, or God forbid one of the other many talented players who happen to be Under 2700. 4% to win. 50% to lead the tournament in draws. Wait maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Peter, I mean he did have 3 decisive games out of 13 at Corus. Oh wait, and he also had two decisive games out of 9 in the Tal Memorial. He picked it up with 4 out of 14 in the World Championship tournament though. 9 decisive games out of 38, very exciting, can't wait to sit down and watch all his games. The main thing is that as long as the top guns are invited also he almost never wins or is in danger of winning the event. If this is going to be the case you should at least be very young, talented and exciting for the fans.

Ivanchuk: He has been invited to a lot of tournaments through his career, and he almost never wins, but I give him a lot of respect for actually playing in events that arent Category 8 billion events, unlike Leko. I definitely respect the decision to invite him to these events. Of course once he has a bad run in these Swisses and his" precious" rating falls outside the Top 10, the organizers may turn to other swashbuckling stars who almost never finish higher than third, and have played in 8 billion of these events before like Svidler, Gelfand or Adams. 5% to win.

Radjabov: Yeah, he's young and talented, I don't begrudge him a spot. But he's probably not going to win... 7% to win

I also have a few ideas to make this tournament more interesting:

1. Just invite four players! Have Anand, Carlsen, Topalov and Aronian play a 12 round, round robin where each opponent players the other four times. This way every game is actually interesting to me!

2. Invite more young talented players. Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Jakovenko, Cheparinov, Bu, Yue Wang, Nakamura, Dominguez etc. We all have seen Shirov and Leko play in these events over and over and never win. Ivanchuk has very little chance too, but I give him props due to his willingness to actually play people under 2600 from time to time. Morozevich is always a better invite because of his exciting style of play. Also I think Kamsky deserves more invitations. He's not that young, but he's improving constantly due to his long layoff from chess, as was clear from his recent World Cup Performance.

Judges' averages

Averaging up the judges scores, we get the following % chances for victory:

Topalov: 19.75%
Aronian: 16.25%
Radjabov: 6.75%
Ivanchuk and Leko: 5.75%
Shirov- 5%

How will the judges scores match up to reality? We'll see in the next few weeks.


April - Chess Life Online 2008

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