GM Magnus Carlsen
Photo by ChessBase.com.
There is a new king in the world ranking of chess. The nineteen-year old Magnus Carlsen (2810, +9) has officially vaulted over 2800 mark to become only the 5th person in history to eclipse the magical figure. It appears as if 2800 is the old 2700.
Approximately 10 years ago, there were only a handful of players having reached the 2700 level. There are currently 34 players over 2700 with a number of players having reached the mark previously and fallen below. Carlsen has had a meteoric rise to the world’s number one position and some project that he may break Garry Kasparov’s 2851 mark.
Being knocked from his comfortable perch, Veselin Topalov (2805, -5) is more focused on his upcoming match with World Champion Viswanathan Anand (2790, +2). The match will take place in Bulgaria in April 2010. Some believe Carlsen will be vying for the title in the next cycle. However, there are a lot of viable candidates in the loop.
Out of the top 20 juniors, 12 countries are represented. For the top 20 girls, two nations dominate the list… Russia (6) and China (4).
Vladimir Kramnik (2788, +16) scored a nice victory in the recent Tal Memorial placing 1/2-point ahead of Carlsen. Kramnik had dropped precipitously prior to winning the ‘Toiletgate’ match against Topalov, but has overcome ailments to regain his form. In fact, many state that he is playing more aggressively. Armenia’s Levon Aronian (2781, -5) switched places with Kramnik and dropped to the #5 spot.
Rounding out the top ten, you have FIDE World Cup winner Boris Gelfand (2761, +3) who gained only a few points are the tournament performance is added to his tally. Vugar Gashimov (2759, +1) is Azerbaijan’s #1 and in an recent interview he stated the possibility of becoming the top-rated player one day. He lead his nation to a win in the prestigious European Team Championship and they will be a favorite to win a medal at the 2010 Olympiad.
Vassily Ivanchuk (2749, +10) continues his fluctuation in and out of the top ten. He regained some points are a strong showing at Tal Memorial, but had an early exit from the World Cup losing to rising star Wesley So (2656, +14) of the Philippines (pictured left). A Chinese player has reached the top ten for the first time in history and his name is Wang Yue (2749, +15).
With his solid style and consistency, Wang continues to climb the rating ladder and can clearly be considered in the elite class. With invitations rolling in, he has had opportunities to show the talent that had been developing since his youth days. There seems to be more talent in the Chinese pipeline.
Peter Svidler (2744, -10) rounds out the top ten, but has hit skids lately. He bombed in the Tal Memorial with 3.5/9, was eliminated in the FIDE World Cup quarterfinals and just a week ago he lost in 23 moves to talented junior, Sanan Sjugirov (2610, -2).
In women’s chess, nothing has changed in terms of the order. Judit Polgar has been on top for decades and is now regaining form. Hou Yifan (2590, +2) is hot on the heels of world #2 Koneru Humpy (2614, +11).
Humpy scored a good result in the match featuring the Queens vs. Veterans, but entered in a public dispute with her federation about her contractual committments. While she continues to play primarily against women, her improvement has not been very dramatic since reaching 2600 two years ago.
Former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova (2545, +4) has remained steady over the past year, but the new sensation in the women’s section is Nadezhda Kostineva (2533, +15) of Russia. She has vaulted over 2500 and is now the top-rated Russian woman.
Kostineva overtakes World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (2523, -6) who had held the top position since she first won the title at age 17. She will most probably keep the top board at the Olympiad regardless of the rating difference. Kosteniuk was blanked by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2741, +22) in the FIDE World Cup but helped Russia win the European Team Championship.
As the world’s number one Carlsen leads the Juniors and French #1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2730, +12) is now second and Sergey Karjakin (2720, -3) is third. All were born in 1990 and will dominate the list for a few more years. Karjakin has recently changed his federation from Ukraine to Russia.
GM Fabiano Caruana is knocking at the door of the 2700 club. Here he plays Sweden’s GM Pontus Carlsson enroute to winning Corus ‘C’ earlier last year.
Italian #1 Fabiano Caruana (2675, +33) has pilled up points at a rapid pace and is approaching 2700. He made the fourth round of the FIDE World Cup finally losing to Gashimov. Ian Nepomniachtchi (2658, +32) of Russia gained a whopping 31 ELO points in the Russia Final with 8.5/10!
Perhaps one of the junior receiving the most praise (besides Carlsen) is Wesley So of the Philippines (2656, +14). He got to the 4th round of the FIDE World Cup beating Gadir Guseinov (2614), Vassily Ivanchuk (2749) and Gata Kamsky (2693).
One of the best thing about the juniors list (and other lists) is the wide diversity of nations represented, a fact not solely because of emigration from strong nations. Out of the top 20 juniors, 12 countries are represented. For the top 20 girls, two nations dominate the list… Russia (6) and China (4). Hou Yifan (2590, +2) is the #20 junior, but the top girl.
Jorge Cori and sister Deysi of Peru.
Deysi Cori of Peru is the sole representative on the girl’s list from the Western Hemisphere. Her brother Jorge recently made headlines by fulfilling the requirements a Grandmaster at age 14 and earlier winning the under-14 title. Deysi won the under-16 girl’s title.