Qualification: Top two finishers in the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15
FIDE Rating: 2790
Most Played Opening (W/B): Sicilian, Sicilian
*(Till Zurich Chess Challenge) Career Stats: Wins- 657, Draws- 551, Loses- 259
Hikaru Nakamura is one of the most consistent players during the year 2015 and his performance at the FIDE Grand Prix earns him a spot at the Candidates Tournament. He is one of the phenomenally talented players in the Candidates Tournament, and he also makes this his first ever appearance for a shot at the World Championship.
He is one of the very few of his breed who have registered more wins than draws throughout their career. Since he trained under Gary Kasparov, he has turned out to be a completely different player. And he is capable of playing many different variations in his openings, some of which can be credited to his erstwhile habit of playing bullet (one minute per player per match) games online.
By nature Nakamura is quite an aggressive player but he knows when to keep his calm and find a way to win, even if that means he has to play the waiting game towards a draw result.
How Hikaru Nakamura fared since 1st January 2015?
Total games: 160
He boasts a win percentage of 40% and has just over 50% draw results in the past year. His record against the other candidates paired with his consistency in the recent past places him ahead of the former World Champion Viswanathan Anand to win the Candidates Tournament in his first shot.
Apart from Nakamura’s recent form, his determination to change past records against the reigning champion will act as a huge motivation for the American.
Chances against Magnus Carlsen
There is no doubt that Hikaru Nakamura is one of the pre-tournament favourites to win the Candidates Tournament. But what will happen if he does? How will he fare against Magnus Carlsen at the World Championship?
Nakamura may possess a phenomenal record against the other Candidates; he has a rather forgettable past against the Norwegian World Champion. They played 30 games in total and Nakamura has lost 12 of them, while he drew the remaining 18. He is yet to register a win against Magnus Carlsen.
However, that does not put him out of competition. Nakamura knows he has been exploited in the past by Carlsen and if he qualifies he will leave no stone unturned to fill the holes and step up his game. The thought of becoming the World Champion might single-handedly lift his game to levels that have not been seen yet.