Meet the players
Vladimir Kramnik first arrived in public focus after the fantastic 8.5/9 performance at the 1992 Olympiad in Manila. 17-years old, long-haired, 2590 rated and yet untitled player quickly earned respect after more pleasing results in Chalkidiki and Linares, and already in 1993 he qualified for both FIDE and PCA candidate matches. 1996 was incredibly successful year for him, and after winning numerous tournaments he caught Kasparov on the 1st place tie on FIDE list.
Garry Kasparov finally went to history when Kramnik beat him with clean record in the 2000 World Championship match in London. He defended his title in a close match against Peter Leko in Brissago 2004, only after winning the last game to equalize the score 7-7. This established his reputation of match specialist. Finally, Kramnik won the stressing match for title reunification against Veselin Topalov and qualified for the Mexico WCC, and the toilet story hits the mainstream media.
This year he convincingly won Melody Amber Tournament and his favorite court – Dortmund.
Viswanathan Anand also became famous as 17-years old, but over his win against American GM Nick De Firmian for which he spent 4 minutes only! Since then, Vishy is synonym for fast and accurate calculation and undisputed rapid chess king having won Corsica, Mainz and Melodi Amber many times. His first super tournament appearances were in 1991 when he finished 2nd in Reggio Emilia behind Kasparov. Just like Kramnik, he qualified for both cycles in 1993, but managed to reach finals in PCA version and challenge Garry Kasparov. Match was played on 1995 in New York WTC and after 8 starting draws, Vishy won 9th game to take the lead. Then sudden drop and Kasparov wins couple of games in a row to clinch the match.
His next World Championship match was vs rested Anatoly Karpov who waited for him in the finals of 1998 FIDE cycle, which Anand lost. But he finally takes the title in 2000 knockout championship, which took place in Teheran. This year, following the 1st place in Morelia-Linares, Anand reached top of the FIDE rating list for the first time in his life. He is considered to be main favorite to take the championship in Mexico.
Levon Aronian was 2002 World Junior Chess Champion but we bolded his name only after he won the 2005 World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk, thus qualifying for the Candidate Matches. Fantastic results in 2006 continued to skyrocket his rating, and after winning Morelia-Linares and Olympiad with Armenian national team, he peaked on 3rd position of FIDE list.
Levon still had to break through the ruthless Candidate Matches to qualify for the Mexico finals. Magnus Carlsen in 2007 is much stronger than the 2005 kid who was the lowest-seeded in the draw lots and Alexei Shirov found again his wonderful shape. Aronian managed to win both exhausting tiebreaks and he hasn’t played since, preparing his best for this September.
This year he tied first place in Corus together with Teimour Radjabov and Veselin Topalov.
We can only agree with other commentators that Moro is by far the most unpredictable player in the world’s top. His brilliant wins and uncompromising chess earned him many fans worldwide (including our own Alan Benson). On the other hand, losing streaks are not rare in his tournaments. he had good start at the 2005 San Luis World Championship but eventually dropped to 4th place which still qualified him for the Mexico WCC.
Morozevich is three-times Melody Amber and Biel winner, but he was forced to withdraw from this year’s Biel Festival due to fatigue. We hope he arrives fresh in Mexico to fight for the world title. The strong finish at the last Morelia-Linares tournament when he finished 2nd is surely encouraging.
Last two years were not the best in Peter Leko’s career but he is certainly thinking about taking the title on his third attempt. Having made his initial steps in already mentioned Senta, Leko family soon moved across the border, to nearby Szeged in Hungary. Coach Andras Adorjan had huge influence on the youngster’s development and is probably responsible for the classical style and perfect technique in Leko’s play.
After becoming Grandmaster at the age of 15, Leko had his share of fantastic tournament achievements. First in 2002 Dortmund which qualified him for match against Vladimir Kramnik, tied first in Linares 2003 and first in Corus 2005. Recently he had mixed results, having won exceptionally strong World Rapid Chess Cup in Odessa and then finishing last in Morelia-Linares. However, his form significantly improved during the Candidate Matches in Elista where he whooped Mikhail Gurevich and Evgeny Bareev for easy cruise to the Mexico venue.
Boris Gelfand is playing in the world championship cycles since 1991 when he was knocked out by Nigel Short. The same year (and again in 1995) he wins prestigious Belgrade Investbanka. He was one of the few players to skip Kasparov’s PCA qualifier, and on 1993 he wins Biel FIDE Interzonal, then matches against Adams and Kramnik before Anatoly Karpov stopped him in the semifinal.
In the recent years, Boris is finding his old form again. He tied first in Villa de Calatrava and finished 2nd at the World Rapid Chess Cup. He qualified for Mexico after breaking Rustam Kasimdzhanov in rapid games and then winning relatively easy match against Gata Kamsky. 2007 Dortmund was bit of disappointment, but we have no doubts that Boris prepared well with GMs Khuzman and Roiz.
Grischuk emerged in late 90s as talented Rusian junior and already in 2000 he reached semifinal in the FIDE knockout championship. Talented, but also somehow unstable, he had his share of wonderful wins and mediocre results. He is also holding the reputation of fantastic speed player, having won Ordix Open twice and the 2006 World Blitz Chess Championship in Rishon Lezion.
There were rumors that as of lately Grischuk is more interested in online poker than chess, but he was fairly active on the 64 squares in 2007. Posters on our forum are secretly hoping that he is capable of making surprise in Mexico. Alexander Grischuk navigated his road to Mexico WCC by eliminating Vladimir Malakhov and Sergey Rublevski in the Candidate matches earlier this year. He also played in Biel after, but we believe he saved his best for this occasion.
Peter Svidler is holding interesting record of winning Russian championship four times. There was this old saying that winning in Russia is harder than acquiring world championship title, this could be good sign for Peter. He almost made it on 2005, but Topalov was running too fast and Svidler had to stay on tied 2nd. His other tournament wins include Dortmund twice and Tilburg.
However, Svidler didn’t play exceptionally well through 2007, achieving only modest scores in Corus, Morelia-Linares and Aerosvit. let’s hope he bring his old charming game to Mexico City.
Mark Crowter of TWIC has posted regulations, statistics and predictions.