April 2006 FIDE Rating list released!

Veselin Topalov (2804, +3) finally sits atop of the FIDE rating chart as Garry Kasparov has officially aboandoned his post due to inactivity. A surging Viswanathan Anand  (2803, +11) eclipsed the 2800-barrier for the first time in his career and will try to overtake Topalov in the coming months. Anand has never been the #1 player and many thought he would succeed Kasparov, but Topalov's surge and been fast and steady.

Lev Aronian (2756, +4) of Armenia has now reached the #3 position and after winning the FIDE World Chess Cup and the Linares tournament. His ascent has been more dramatic than Topalov's as the 23-year old was ranked #51 in 2004 and has gained more than 100 ELO points since that time. Peter Svidler has dropped 22 points, but remains in the #4 slot ahead of Peter Leko (2738, -2). Ruslan Ponomariov has developed his form and is making steady improvements (2738, +15).

Veselin Topalov.  (Photo courtesy of WCC official site)

GM Veselin Topalov, World Champion

Judit Polgar (2711, +0), ranked #14 in the world, is still the top woman for many years and the Humpy Koneru of India is a distant second (2538, +9). Alexandra Kosteniuk (2514, -2) has bolted into the #3 position after her spectacular result at the Aeroflot Open. Swedish Grandmaster Pia Cramling and Xu Yuhua round out the top five. Xu recently won the Women's FIDE World Championship and may move her up a notch or two.

In what appears to be an eternity Azerbaijan's
Teimour Radjabov (2717, +17) is still at the top of the  junior chart at age 18. Both  (2674, +28) and Pentala Harikrishna (2680, +7)  and Hikaru Nakamura (2664, +20) gained. The Ukrainian trio of Sergei Karjakin (2661, +1), Alexander Areschenko (2670, -10) and Andrei Volokitin (2660, -5) round out the top five.


In Africa, Morocco's
Hichem Hamdouchi plummets (2559, -16) but keeps his #1 continental ranking. Egyptian Essam El-Gindy remains as the only other 2500-level player (2510, -14) and  Slim Belkhodja of Tunisia is 3rd at 2499 after gaining eleven points at the African Championships in Lusaka, Zambia.

South of the Sahara,
George Michelakis is now the top-rated player (2425).  Amon Simutowe (2414, -31) of Zambia continues to fluctuate and dropped massive points at the UTD GM Invitational and the African Championships. Robert Gwaze of Zimbabwe (2413, +2) gained a couple of points by winning the London Christmas tournament. Watu Kobese (2390, -7) has also seen action in London at Hastings and the Gibraltar tournaments.


In the Caribbean, Cuba's
Lázaro Bruzon (2650, -27) maintained the regional rating lead despite a huge drop. Cuban Compatriot Lenier Domínguez (2638, +3) is trying to regain his form since reaching 2661 in January 2005. Kevin Denny (2365, +0) remains the top player amongst the English-speaking Caribbean islands. With recent talk of more international tournaments in the region, players will have a chance to improve their ratings more frequently.

North America and Europe

In North America, the top player of African descent is
Maurice Ashley (2465, +0) who has not played competitively in the past 2˝ years.  He is followed by Emory Tate (2384, -7)  Stephen Muhammad (2384, +7)  are deadlocked. Both competed in the U.S. Championship last month. Sweden's Pontus Carlsson (2433, +3) is steady and hopes to make a breakthrough this year.

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 6 April 2006