Only 1 day and change before the Candidates begins!
There’s been some talk about whether having no clearly overmatched players helps or hurts Magnus (or the others). While guys like Gelfand and Svidler are clearly much lower rated, it’s a very different thing to play them versus playing a mere mortal of a 2600 GM.
My own suspicion was that it would bring the field slightly closer together, as the conventional wisdom is that Magnus beats those guys on-demand. He’d play some offbeat opening line, get a random position, and slowly go to work. Looking at the numbers though, that’s partly true, but that’s not really what sets him apart. However, two other things first …
First, Giri’s comment about Magnus having 80% chances to win this. It’s true he’s been pretty dominant in his recent events, but from Tata Steel 2011 through Tata Steel 2013, he didn’t win 80% of those events (and most of those weren’t as strong as the Candidates will be). As far as I can tell, he’s played at:
- Tata 2011 (3rd behind Naka and Anand);
- Bazna 2011 (tied for first with Karjakin);
- Biel 2011 (clear first);
- Bilbao 2011 (clear first);
- Tal Memorial 2011 (tied for first with Aronian);
- London 2011 (3rd behind Kramnik and Nakamura);
- Tata 2012 (2nd behind Aronian);
- Tal Memorial 2012 (clear first);
- Biel 2012 (2nd behind Wang Hao);
- Bilbao 2012 (tied for first with Caruana);
- London 2012 (clear first); and,
- Tata 2012 (clear first)
Obviously it’s an impressive run (and better than anybody else’s run at the same time), but that’s 12 tournaments with 5 clear 1sts, 3 shared 1sts, and 4 others. So even counting ties, that’s “only” 2/3 of his events.