IM Kostya’s Predictions For the 2017 World Cup

Like most chess fans one of my absolute favorite tournaments to follow is the FIDE World Cup! The upsets, the tiebreaks, the must-win situations, the armaggedon, it’s truly one of the most exciting events in chess. This year seems especially hard to predict as the tournament is stronger than most years, with most of the top-10 playing, including a rare sighting of Magnus Carlsen & Viswanathan Anand!

If you’d like, you can check out my full bracket here. I typically went with experience wherever I could, and picked only a few upsets as I feel like many of the favorites are going to bring their A-game. Especially Magnus — assuming he’s in good health I just don’t see anyone getting in his way to reach the top. I mean when was the last time Magnus even lost a tiebreak match?

A few highlights:

  • I think Magnus vs. MVL is nearly a lock for the Quarterfinals. Both players are exceptionally strong in rapid, and only Grischuk may pose problems for MVL.
  • I have Andreikin defeating Aronian in Round 3, but I’ll be rooting for Levon regardless. In fact, this could easily be his year.
  • Although I picked Ding Liren to defeat Kovalenko in Round 2, this could easily be a big upset, as Kovalenko crossed 2700 previously and is known to be an excellent rapid/blitz player.
  • A likely Round 3 match-up between Kramnik and Ivanchuk will likely bring the house down, I almost picked ‘Chucky’ here but Kramnik tends to bring it during the World Cup!
  • It was hard to choose Nakamura over both So and Caruana, but he is the better rapid/blitz player and when he’s in form, he seems unstoppable.

And here are my answers to the Chess^Summit Sweepstakes:

Who wins the 2017 FIDE World Cup? 
Magnus Carlsen

Who is the Runner Up?
Hikaru Nakamura

Which American player goes the farthest?
Hikaru Nakamura. Caruana and So are obviously reasonable picks here as well.

Which Russian player goes the farthest?
Sergey Karjakin. This is a bit of a hedge, since I tend to underestimate Karjakin in most events, but he seems to have an iron grip on doing well in World Cups. It was very hard to choose him over Kramnik!

Which Chinese player goes the farthest?
Ding Liren. Wei Yi or Li Chao could easily take this spot, but I feel that Ding is the most solid of the group. Yu Yangyi is another contender.

Do all the top 8 seeds win 2-0 in the first round?
Yes. I mean maybe they won’t, but I have a feeling we’re going to see some very determined players at the top.

Which player will score the most draws?
Viswanathan Anand. I’m really not sure how Anand will perform here, but it seems likely that he’s going to be risk-averse and take his chances as they come in the rapid/blitz.

Which player will score the most wins?
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. One of the hottest players right now, I can see MVL being in a lot of must-win situations and pulling them out!.

Top rated player below 2700?
Ruslan Ponomariov. A great value, Pono has been 2700+ for most of his career and is a fantastic rapid player. Look for him to potentially make a deep run. Although I picked Harikrishna to advance after their encounter in Round 2, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pono pull the upset.

Top Junior
Wei Yi. He seems like a heavy favorite, since other juniors will have to play up in Round 3 (or before) while he plays down until Round 4.

Do any former World Champions qualify for Candidates 2018 through the World Cup?
No. Although Kramnik is one of the favorites and always performs well, somehow I doubt it with So, Caruana, Nakamura, MVL, Aronian, Karjakin and of course Carlsen all in the mix.

Does Carlsen make the top 4?
Obviously.

Enter the sweepstakes now with your 2017 World Cup predictions!

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