Qualification: Top two highest average rating in 2015
FIDE Rating: 2780
Most Played Opening (W/B): Sicilian, Sicilian
*(Till London Chess Classic) Career Stats: Wins- 684, Draws- 876, Loses- 424
Veselin Topalov is the least active among the players in this competition. However, he still managed to gain qualification as one of the top two players with highest average rating of 2015. He would pose an interesting challenge to the other Candidates in the tournament.
A crowd pleaser in general, Topalov is aggressive, uncompromising and takes risks even if there is the slightest possibility of victory (the kind of risks other players would avoid and prefer a draw instead).
Some would say he is past his prime, while some would argue against in light of his performance at the Norway Chess. He was dubbed “Unstopalov” for his absolute brilliance and aggressive play that saw him lift the title. However, the Bulgarian genius has been public in stating that he no longer works really hard on Chess anymore.
How Veselin Topalov fared since 1st January 2015?
Total games: 61
A top-notch player with only 61 games in a Calendar year, the number is proof that he no longer enjoys the game as he once did. He is not among the favourites to win the Candidates but he can be the dark horse of the tournament and pack a surprise punch to his colleagues. Veselin Topalov has been one of the best in the world since the 1990s and despite a significant reduction in the number of matches he still continues to be one of the best.
His track record with white pieces has been note-worthy against the favourite Hikaru Nakamura but it is his play with black pieces that most of the players in the Candidates will look to capitalize upon.
Chances against Magnus Carlsen
If Veselin Topalov returns to his “Unstopalov” game for the Candidates he will at the least make matters worse for the other players if not win it himself. However, if he succeeds in overcoming his seven colleagues he may as well stand a chance at winning the World Championship against Magnus Carlsen. After all, Topalov has beaten the Norwegian twice in 2015.
The World Championship might stimulate the Bulgarian in putting some more effort in the game than he has of late. And if he wants to call it a day on his Chess career, winning the World Championship might be the perfect fairy tale ending.