Potential Wild Cards

In spring of 2016 eight players will be invited to participate in a Candidates Tournament. The winner of that tournament will earn the right to compete against Magnus Carlsen later that year in a match for the world championship. Seven of the eight Candidates will be selected by a series of qualifying methods detailed elsewhere on this site. The eighth and final Candidate will be chosen by whoever organizes the tournament, as a “wild card” nominee.

UPDATE November 5, 2015:

All the speculation below has become moot, as both the organizer, and their wild card selection, were made public today! The 2016 Candidates Tournament will be held in Moscow, Russia, and organized by the Tashir Group. The company’s leader was born in Armenia, and those ties appear to have played a larger role than the event’s location, as the wild card nominee will be Levon Aronian. All speculation can now be set aside, as the full field is essentially determined (barring a near impossible miracle on the average ratings list in the next few weeks.) We know who our eight Candidates will be!

However the wild card must meet one key standard in order to be selected. They must be rated at least 2725 on the July 2015 rating list. As that list has now been published, we can begin narrowing down the potential options that the eventual organizer will have to choose from.

NOTE: Earlier versions of this article stated, in error, that they must also meet other requirements. Namely “They must participate in either the FIDE Grand Prix 2014-15 (which has already been completed) or in the 2015 World Cup (which begins in September). Additionally they must play at least 30 games in 2015.” These requirements DO apply to potential qualifiers by rating, but do not, as far as I can tell, apply to potential wild cards.

27 players were rated 2725+ on the July rating list, but four of them are already definitively not going to be the wild card. Magnus Carlsen is one: he will of course not participate in the Candidates Tournament, but rather await his match with its ultimate winner. Additionally, three players have already qualified for the Candidates Tournament by other higher priority means, and are also not potential wild card selections: Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, and Hikaru Nakamura.

Here, then, are the 23 remaining options:

Player July 2015 Rating Grand Prix Participant?
 Topalov, Veselin 2816
 Giri, Anish 2791
 Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
 Grischuk, Alexander 2771 Yes
 So, Wesley 2780
 Aronian, Levon 2765
 Karjakin, Sergey 2753 Yes
 Ding, Liren 2749
 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2757
 Gelfand, Boris 2751 Yes
 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2731
 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2735 Yes
 Li, Chao b 2748
 Adams, Michael 2740
 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2745 Yes
 Svidler, Peter 2740 Yes
 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2733
 Radjabov, Teimour 2738 Yes
 Vitiugov, Nikita 2734
 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2736 Yes
 Harikrishna, P. 2733
 Yu, Yangyi 2736
 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2728

Note that 15 of these players did not compete in the Grand Prix, but 14 of those are scheduled to play in the World Cup, so even if the eligibility requirements were as stringent as I originally thought, they would not be much of a barrier. The organizers will have at least 19 of these players as available options to choose from. Do consider, though, that most likely four of these players will still qualify on their own merits (barring a major upset in the World Cup).

One player not on the list is Wei Yi, who came so close to making himself eligible, but fell just one point short with a 2724 published rating. This is probably a moot point, as despite our great admiration for his prodigious success, we feel this is not the right candidate’s cycle for him to break into the club; he hasn’t even begun playing in supertournaments yet. However if he happens to exceed even our wildest expectations, and add something like 50 points to his rating over the next six to eight months, and look like a worthy candidate by the time the wild card is actually selected, remember that he’s not actually an eligible selection for want of one ELO point today.

We will keep this page updated, and be sure to remove any players who fail to meet the qualifying standards, or who remove themselves from wild card contention by qualifying in a different manner. Everyone on this list is a potential candidate as of 6/30/2015.

2 thoughts on “Potential Wild Cards

  1. Quote: “[T]he wild card must meet certain standards in order to be selected. They must participate in either the FIDE Grand Prix 2014-15 (which has already been completed) or in the 2015 World Cup (which begins in September)”.

    Are you sure about this? In the rules and regulations (https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/regscandidates2016.pdf), section 2.5 only states: “A player, nominated by the organiser, with a rating of at least 2725 in the FIDE rating list of 1st July 2015” – nothing about any other requirements. In fact, the activity requirement of 30 games played also seems to only apply to players who qualify by rating (as mentioned in section 2.4). Which kind of makes sense when you think about it: One justification for having a wild card would be that it would allow a very strong player a way back into the circuit if he had been inactive for a while (not saying the K word out loud…). Such a player would then only need to play a few games and get his inactive rating re-activated, and he would be eligible for a wild card.

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  2. Re-reading the regulations, it definitely looks like you’re right, Hansen. I was mixing up the requirements to qualify by rating with the Wild Card, which doesn’t appear to share the same requirements.

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