1H 2022 & Candidates Update

In the first half of 2019 I had arguably my best six months ever. Both the performance and my play were at least on par with earlier successful periods. It is not surprising that it came on the heels of the preparations and work done for and during the 2018 World Championship match. This year I have experienced something similar again, albeit not at the level of 2019.

I was excited and relieved to start off the 2022 Champions Chess Tour season with two victories in February and March, and winning both classical events Tata Steel Chess in January and Norway Chess in June means a lot to me. My 2nd quarter CCT performance was not as good, and I hope to improve from August onwards.

Before my next CCT tournament in August – I won’t play the July tournament – I’ll play both the GCT Rapid and Blitz in Zagreb and for Norway in the Chess Olympiad in Chennai.

The 2022 World Championship Candidates starts today. I am always looking forward to the Candidates, both in terms of sporting excitement, and also for the way opening theory is always advanced by these exceptional tournaments. In terms of chances to win the whole thing, I would divide the players into three tiers.

Tier one: the favorites. In this tier I would put Caruana and Ding. To me, they are the best and most consistent players in the field, and I would bet on one of the two winning against the field.
Tier two: the dark horses. Firouzja and Nepomniachtchi belong here. Neither of them have the consistency to be in the top tier, but they both have a ceiling which gives them a smaller, but still quite realistic chance of winning.
Tier three: the rest. I see a slight chance Rapport could make it if everything works out for him, but it feels very unlikely that he will survive seven black games against such opposition, even if he wins a few. Nakamura will probably have a decent event, but I don’t see him winning enough games to have a real chance. Duda and Radjabov I just don’t think have any shot.

I wish all readers and everyone at my more than decade long sponsor and cooperation partner Simonsen Vogt Wiig  a great summer!