General May 4, 2014 | 10:13 AMby Colin McGourty

London Candidates voted tournament of 2013

The Association of Chess Professionals has chosen the London Candidates Tournament as the top tournament of 2013, ahead of the Gibraltar Chess festival and the inaugural Alekhine Memorial. The Anand-Carlsen match failed to make the Top 3, as did Tata Steel Chess, the winner in 2011 and 2012.

382 votes were cast by ACP members who selected the best tournaments of 2013 in five categories.

Best Round Robin event of 2013

1. Alekhine Memorial, Paris and St. Petersburg
2. Tata Steel, A Group, Wijk aan Zee
3. Norway Supreme Masters

2013 was an annus mirabilis for top-level chess. Apart from the Candidates and the World Championship match chess fans and the best players almost suffered an over-abundance of supertournaments, with the Alekhine Memorial and Norway Tournament exploding onto the scene.

The stage in St. Petersburg, with images of Alekhine behind the players - Levon Aronian edged out Boris Gelfand on tiebreaks to take first place | photo: Alekhine Memorial website (currently offline) 

It’s hard to argue with the Alekhine Memorial taking first place, as the event run by the Russian Chess Federation and funded by Andrei Filatov and Gennady Timchenko was extraordinary well-organised and featured the hard-to-beat venues of the Louvre in Paris and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

Tata Steel was still extremely strong (it was only downsized this year) but couldn’t make it a hat-trick of ACP titles after winning the overall vote in the previous two years. Norway Chess was perhaps only let down by players complaining of the travel between multiple venues, but given the line-up for 2014 it’s looking hard to beat in next year’s vote!

Best Open event of 2013

1. Tradewise Gibraltar Festival
2. Reykjavik Open, Reykjavik
3. Cappelle la Grande Open

The demise of the Aeroflot Open, which in 2013 became a rapid and blitz event, took away the Gibraltar Festival’s fiercest competition. Under the watchful eye of tournament director Stuart Conquest it went from strength to strength, clinching first prize for a third successive year.

Best official event of 2013

1. FIDE Candidates, London
2/3. World Cup, Tromso
2/3. World Championship Match, Chennai

Magnus Carlsen didn't manage to withstand the enormous tension of the final round of the London Candidates 2013, but then neither did his rival Vladimir Kramnik! | photo: Anastasiya Karlovich,

It takes something special to overshadow a World Championship match, but the London Candidates was certainly that! Magnus Carlsen qualified to face Viswanathan Anand after surviving a thrilling late surge from Vladimir Kramnik that culminated in both players losing their final game. Alexander Grischuk described the event as “the best tournament in the last 50-60 years” while Sergey Shipov wrote at Crestbook:

The Candidates Tournament was head and shoulders above the World Championship match in all regards. It was one of the most, if not the most, interesting tournaments in the history of chess.

Best Blitz/Rapid event of 2013

1. London Chess Classic, London
2. ACP Cup, Riga
3. World Rapid and Blitz Championship, Khanty Mansyisk

The London Chess Classic’s first place is no doubt deserved – it featured Anand's first games after losing the World Championship title, Kramnik in sparkling form and Hikaru Nakamura riding his luck to take home the trophy – but the rapid event was still a pale shadow of the classical event held in previous years. Let’s hope the Classic is only briefly featuring in this category!    

ACP Tournament of the Year 2013

1. FIDE Candidates, London
2. Gibraltar Chess Festival, Gibraltar
3. Alekhine Memorial, Paris and St. Petersburg

Given the results in the sub-categories the only mild surprise in the overall standings is perhaps that the Tradewise Gibraltar Festival pushed the Alekhine Memorial into third place, though there’s no doubt it’s one of the world’s most-loved chess tournaments. The following promotional video commissioned by the Government of Gibraltar gives some idea why! 

The voting was of course largely by chess professionals. Would chess fans vote differently? And which tournaments did you enjoy the most?

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