Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik sit atop the FIDE rating list.
Photo by Europe-Echecs.
Vladimir Kramnik (2799, +14) has pulled into a virtual tie with World Champion Viswanathan Anand (2799, -2) for the #1 spot. Kramnik’s performance at the World Championship in Mexico, Sparkassen and his victory at the Mikhail Tal Memorial. Vassily Ivanchuk (2751, -36) plummeted down to the ninth spot and continues his erratic play. Garry Kasparov once said that Ivanchuk can play like a 2800 one tournament and a 2600 the next. Veselin Topalov reclaims the 3rd position (2780, +11), but Alexander Morozevich (2765, +10)may overtake given his stellar performance in the Russian Championship. Peter Svidler (2763, +31) rounds out the top five, but he will most certainly lose a ton of points given his lackluster performance of late.
There are a few new names rising into the top echelon of chess. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2760, +8), Magnus Carlsen (2733, +19) and Sergey Karjakin (2732, +38) continue their ascent. Topalov’s second, Ivan Cheparinov (2713, +43) has surpassed 2700 for the first time. Another story is the resurgence of Gata Kamsky (2726, +12) who has climbed to the top of the U.S. list and tacked on 22 more ELO points after his World Cup victory. He will meet Topalov in a match later in the 2008. China’s Wang Yue (2698, -5) did not remain over 2700, but a strong contingent of Chinese players are amassing a core that will be tough to beat in the Olympiad. Wang Hao (2665, +22) played 62 games since the last list! He also beat Ruslan Ponomariov (2719, +14) in the World Cup before bowing out.
GM Humpy Koneru (India, 2612)
Photo by ChessBase.
In the women’s category, Judit Polgar (2707, -1) still holds the top women’s spot and will probably do so until she retires. Much has been mentioned about Humpy Koneru (2612, +6) and her “super-Grandmaster” status. However, she he not played against strong competition and is still seen a player on the women’s circuit. However, it is possible that she could make the Men’s Olympiad team as she stands at the #4 position in India. Xie Jun is back on the women’s list (2574, +1) after a long maternity leave. Zhu Chen (2548, +17) is followed by Hou Yifan (2527, +25) who played a staggering 67 games! Pia Cramling continues as a top female player (2524, -7) despite slipping a bit. China’s Zhao Xue (2517, -13) has dipped a bit but Xu Yuhua (2500, -17) has resurfaced after a maternity leave.
Norway’s Magnus Carlsen (2733, +19) has now inherited the top spot on the junior list from long-time holder, Teimour Radjabov (2735, -7). Radjabov has surpassed the age limit. Both Carlsen and Karjakin will battle for that spot in coming years. Fabiano Caruana (2598, +4) has scored several strong results including winning the Italian Championship. He entered the list in October 2007, but now he has vaulted himself to #8 on the junior list. The sheer number of games he has played on the past three years has been incredible… almost 300 games! It seems not long ago that American players saw this diminutive scholastic player competing in the open tournaments. His father moved him to Hungary and he changed his federation from “USA” to “ITA.” Hikaru Nakamura (2670, +22) has rebounded from a couple of poor showings to edge back toward 2700. He won a strong Barcelona tournament and gained 19 ELO points.
Ahmed Adly (right) playing against Gata Kamsky (USA, 2726).
Adly bowed out to Kamsky who won the tournament.
Photo by ChessBase.
In Africa, Morocco’s Hichem Hamdouchi is still the top player in Africa, but the country is not listed on the charts. Usually that means the federation is in arrears in dues. Egypt is continues to dominate the charts. World Junior Champion Ahmed Adly (2551, +57) and compatriot Bassem Amin (2561, -14) will lead the Egyptians to the Olympiad in Desden, Germany. Essam El-Gindy (2502, -1) makes up the other 2500+ player. South of the Sahara, Amon Simutowe Zambia leads the pack (2457, +11) and has been very active in the past quarter playing 80 games! Robert Gwaze of Zimbabwe (2426, -3) lost to runner-up Alexei Shirov (2755, +16) in the World Cup, but hopefully he will regain his activity. South Africa has not been active, but they witnessed a surprise with unheralded player Henry Steel winning their National Championship recently. Steel is only 18 with an ELO of 2241, but will gain about 20 ELO points for his national crown. He also upset Simutowe in the African Championships and gained 41 points in that tournament.
In the Caribbean, Cuba’s Lenier Domínguez (2691, +8) is still on pace to eclipse 2700 as he put together a series of strong tournaments. Lázaro Bruzon (2607) is barely clearing 2600. He has not played much and sources say that he has lost his drive to play chess. Kevin Denny (2367) has not been very active. He played in the Barbados National Qualifier, but did not play in the Championship. He remains the top player amongst the English-speaking Caribbean islands.
In Europe, Sweden’s Pontus Carlsson (2501, +20) has again surpassed the 2500 barrier. He stated in an interview that the controversy over his last norm affected his play, but apparently his is back on course. America’s Maurice Ashley (2465, +0) has been out of sight for more than four years, but went to his native Jamaica and lost rating points to Jomo Pitterson (2223, +13). Emory Tate (2390, +14) has regained some points after his strong performance in Curacao has been counted. Stephen Muhammad (2361, -23) met disaster at an invitational tournament in Chicago. He has been on a hiatus and is apparently suffering from the effects of rust.
Jomo Pitterson on the move against GM Maurice Ashley in a fierce last-round battle. Pitterson scored an upset victory and won the 2007 Fred Cameron crown held in Jamaica. Photo by Peter Myers.