Magnus Carlsen set to face World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the finale of Arctic Securities Challenge, 2010. Carlsen won the mini-match setting off speculation about a future championship encounter. Photo by Gérard Demuydt (Europe-Echecs).
Magnus Carlsen continues to stand atop the FIDE rating list at 2826, the highest rating achieved since Garry Kasparov. On the last listing, three 2800s graced the list for the first time in history. This list continues the trend with Veselin Topalov (2803) and Viswanathan Anand (2800). World Champion Anand recently lost a two-game rapid match to Carlsen further speculating that the two will be future rivals for the next World Championship. That remains to be seen and will be challenged by a number of young rising stars.
Levon Aronian (2783) has been relatively inactive but will be at the Olympiad playing top board for Armenia. Vladimir Kramnik (2780, -10) dipped and on his heels is the rising Pavel Eljanov of the Ukraine (2761, +6). Rounding out the top ten are Alexander Grischuk (2760), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2756,-5) and a fluctuating Vassily Ivanchuk (2754, +15). Boris Gelfand (2751, +12) has probably been the most steady player and scored well in the NH match against the “Rising Stars”.
Hikaru Nakamura wins a miniature against Loek Van Wely in the NH Chess Tournament. He would win a tiebreak match over Anish Giri to win a place in next year’s Amber tournament. Photo by NH Chess.
Former FIDE champ Ruslan Ponomariov gained (2749, +15) while several players dropped due to inactivity. At #15 is Hikaru Nakamura (2733, +4) who is coming off a strong performance in the NH match and earned a trip to the Amber tournament next year. Wang Yue of China regained his country’s #1 spot (2732, +16). Michael Adams (2728, +22) also cushioned his lead over Nigel Short (2690) after losing his #1 position several months back.
On the junior list, Carlsen obviously holds the top post and has already overtaken Teimour Radjabov (2748) as the junior at #1 the most times. That’s amazing since Radjabov was the top junior for three years straight before leaving the list in 2007. There are four players atop the junior list and all were born in 1990. Once those names come off you have Italian champion Fabiano Caruana who joined the 2700 club months back and the surging Le Quang Liem (2694, +13) of Vietnam. Anish Giri (2677, +5) has gained more than 50 ELO points this year to approach 2700.
In the women’s list, you have the everpresent Judit Polgar (2682) who is no longer 100 ELO points over her nearest competitor, yet still in a comfortable lead. Humpy Koneru (2593, -7) tumbled below 2600 after a bad outing in two Women’s FIDE Grand Prix events. In the two events, she lost twice to Batkhuyag Munguntuul of Mongolia who she outrated by 200 points. Hou Yifan (2578, +1) is poised to power past Koneru with Polgar in her sights.
The Kostintseva sisters, Tatiana (2573) and Nadezhda (2565) will give Russia a powerful duo at the Olympiad. Add Alexandra Kosteniuk (2524) and Nana Pogonina (2491) and they will compete with defending Olympiad champion Georgia and powerhouse China for the gold. In terms of the Girls’ list, China is dominant with four out of the top ten positions. Russia has three of the remaining six. This means that China is in for a bright future lead by Hou Yifan.
The FIDE list has seen a steep rise in the average rating for the top 100 players. In July 2000, the average rating was 2644; in July 2005, 2662; in July 2010, 2693. In the current list, the average has increased steadily and on the current list edged to 2695. There has been talk of rating inflation and making tougher standards for titles. There have been a number of discussions about revamping the ELO system. It may be however, that players are simply getting stronger due to the amassing of chess knowledge over time.
In the country list, Russia’s top ten carries a stratospheric rating of 2729 followed by the Ukraine at 2695 and France at 2653. Russia will have three teams at this year’s Olympiad and looks to bring home the gold. They will be contested by China’s young dragons, defending champions Armenia and a more experienced Azerbaijan. The U.S. will be a threat with Nakamura, Gata Kamsky (2705, -8) and Alexander Onischuk (2688, -13) leading the American team.