The mystery man of modern chess. Morozevich is an immense talent, but utterly unpredictable both on and off the board. Although he’s been ranked as high as world no. 2 (and even no. 1 on the “live” rating list) his form can suddenly plummet to see him drop 100 points and 50 places. At time he pulls out of tournaments with no notice, at the 2011 World Cup he offered a draw on move 12 in a must-win game (his opponent Alexander Grischuk said he’d never been more surprised by anything in his chess career) and he’s had periods when he’s almost retired from active play, most recently in 2010/11 when he went to work as a coach for Qatar’s female chess player Zhu Chen.
Nevertheless, at his finest Morozevich is a
force to behold. He first shot to international prominence as a 17-year-old when
he won the Lloyds Bank tournament in London with 9.5/10, and his
ultra-aggressive and unconventional chess has always given him the potential to
destroy a field of any class. Although that approach has often backfired in the
very best tournaments, his career successes include a hat-trick of wins in Biel
(2003, 2004 and 2006) and the Russian Championship title (2007). 2012 was a
typical Jekyll and Hyde year for the mercurial Russian – he shot into the lead at
the formidable Tal Memorial with 4/5 only to go on to lose the next three games
and finish only 4th. Shortly afterwards he withdrew from the Biel tournament on
health grounds after starting with two losses. As usual, however, he later made
a successful return to action – winning the Moscow blitz tournament and
impressing in the FIDE Men’s Grand Prix. Chess fans will hope he’s around for a
long time to come.