Who will win the 2022 candidates?
The FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022 will take place in Madrid, Spain, from June 16 to July 5, 2022. The tournament will consist of eight qualified players, and the winner will be entitled to challenge GM Magnus Carlsen for the title of world champion. . This article will use SmarterChess predictions, brought to you by ChessGoals.com, to calculate each player’s chances of winning the event. We’ll cover the statistical models first, then dive into the breakdowns for each player.
I looked at all candidate tournaments since 2013, when Carlsen qualified for the championship, to build the statistical models. Previous events had 14 rounds and an average rating of 2770-2787. I recorded year of birth, peak rating, peak year, off peak points and off peak years. For peak odds, I only looked before this event date. All these factors were taken into account for a statistical model to predict the performance rating. The most important predictors were:
- Current rating at the event
- Maximum score before the event
- Years away from their peak rating
Factors 3 and 4 were not statistically significant and only affected the projected performance ratings by about one Elo point. Current and maximum ratings had a positive association with predicted performance ratings.
I calculated the implied win-loss-draw odds for each game and applied random numbers to determine the outcome. After summarizing all 56 games for a tournament simulation, I checked to see if there was a clear winner or a tie for first place. I simulated 1,000 tournaments (56,000 games) to determine odds and final results. The draw rate for simulations was 69.2% of matches.
The most common winning score in the classic segment was 8.5 points, a score of +3 over 14 games. The average winning classic score was 8.7 points, highlighting that a player must have the ability to play at a very high level to win this prestigious event.
We will start with the lowest projected finishers in the simulations and work our way up to the top finishers. I’m using April 2022 FIDE ratings for the numbers shown below and live ratings for the models.
Jan-Krzysztof Duda (FIDE 2750, Projection 6.0/14, 4% chance to win)
Duda is only 23 years old and has the lowest score (2750) in the event. His peak rating is 2760, so he hasn’t shown that he can consistently perform at the 2810+ level required to win Candidates. He is expected to win 29 events in the classic and 9 of 23 scenarios tied for first, totaling 38 wins in 1,000 simulations (4% chance of winning). Its most likely score is 6 points, with an average score of 6.2 in the simulations. Duda qualified by winning the Chess World Cup 2021, so we can’t count the youngster!
Richard Rapport (FIDE 2776, projected 6.5/14, 5% chance of winning)
Rapport has a similar profile to Duda in that he is one of the youngest players on the pitch and did not have as high a rating as the other players at the event. It is unlikely that a player could enter a Candidates Tournament at their highest rank and win if the maximum rank is not above 2800. Rapport wins 37 solo events in simulations and 12 in tie-breaks, totaling 49 events out of 1000. strong performances in Berlin and Belgrade earned him second place in the FIDE Grand Prix. It’s exciting that the two lowest ratings are both young players who could surprise cold-hearted statistical models.
Teimour Radjabov (FIDE 2753, Projection 6.5/14, 8% chance to win)
Radjabov has an exciting profile. He was the youngest grandmaster in history in 2001 when he won the title at the age of 14. He had a maximum rating of 2793 in 2012 and showed flashes of brilliance in his chess career. The high peak performance rating bumps it up a bit over Duda and Rapport, but it still hasn’t hit the 2800+ mark. He won 76 of the 1000 mock events and averaged 6.8 points.
Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE 2773, Projection 7/14, 8% chance to win)
Nepomniachtchi recently won a world championship match against Carlsen in 2021, where he started playing very high quality chess for the first five games. After that, Magnus won four of the next six games to secure the game 7.5-3.5. Nepomniachtchi is below the next group of players in the simulations due to its current and maximum ratings
Alireza Firouzja (FIDE 2804, Projection 7/14, 15% chance to win)
The youngest player on the pitch is only 18 and recently reached his FIDE rating of 2804. I know I’m going to get some heat for this prediction, so please send your complaints to IM Danny Rensch, CCO from Chess.com. He’s the man who hired me to write these articles. Listen to me on this one. Alireza has a current rating of 2804 with a maximum rating of 2804. While this is very strong, we have three other players who have been rated 2816 or higher! Historically, players have also been at the top longer than Firouzja before winning a candidate’s event. Its most common score in the simulations was 50%, with an average of 7.3 points. He won 114 total simulations plus an additional 36/90 in tiebreakers, giving him 150 wins out of 1000 events.
Hikaru Nakamura (FIDE 2750, projected 7.5/14, 14% chance of winning)
Nakamura is virtually tied with Firouzja when it comes to chances. He wins 144 out of 1000 events but has more tournament wins in tiebreakers due to his quick rating of 2837. His average score is 7.2/14, with a most common score of 7.5 points . It is a higher mode but lower average score and odds than Firouzja. I believe Naka is the dark horse of the event and might surprise everyone if he comes in with a 2800+ performance. Nakamura was world number two at 27 with a FIDE rating of 2816. The average age of the last five winners was 30, so the 34-year-old may need to strike now before the odds are stacked against him.
Ding Liren (FIDE 2797, Projection 7.5/14, 21% chance to win)
He is the latest qualifier for this event, with the second best FIDE rating in the field after his recent flurry of tournaments to ensure he qualifies. Ding has been so consistent at the top that he’s probably the players’ favorite once the websites explain his qualification. The other player who has been at the top for this long recent period is general manager Fabiano Caruana, but currently Fabiano is struggling a bit. In 1000 simulations, Ding won 157 in classic and 49 in tiebreakers, totaling 206 victories! His average score and most likely score both dropped to 7.5 points.
Fabiano Caruana (FIDE 2781, Projection 8/14, 26% chance to win)
Models say Caruana is the most likely challenger to face Magnus Carlsen in the upcoming FIDE World Championship! Caruana scored an impressive 7.7 with a most common score of 8 of 14 points. He won 197 events in the classic and another 62 in the tiebreaker totaling 259 tournament victories. Caruana’s maximum rating of 2844 in 2014, combined with his strong current rating, makes him the favorite to win it all.
Building data for this article was a fun exercise trying to figure out what predicts a player’s performance at past candidate events and applying it to the 2022 tournament. Here’s an exciting look at the full scoreboard in the simulations. Both Caruana and Ding got winning scores of 11/14!
If you want to improve your chess with data-driven articles like this, please check out my website ChessGoals.com for more content. I could bump Firouzja to 20% if I were to break data, but it’s also hard to say if he should be above Nakamura.
Check out NM Matt Jensen by browsing through this article in this video:
Let us know what you think of the predictions in the comments section below!