Friday, December 11, 2015


Ratings are just numbers, right? They are a constantly shifting mass of levels, which suggest roughly where any given player stands vis-a-vis the rest of the chess world. The stronger a player is, the higher their rating, and a set of good results will push the rating up, while bad results will drag it down. There are different rating systems, but the one that is mostly used is the ELO system which many countries use for their national ratings, and the International federation, FIDE, use.

Some important rating milestones:

2200 Candidate Master Level
2300 FIDE Master Level
2400 International Master Level
2500 Grand Master Level
2650 Top 100 Level
2800 Super Elite Level.

The current World Champion has seen his rating plummet this year, and in the latter half of the year he isn't the only top player to have dropped. Magnus Carlsen has a "live rating" of 2829.4, and it wasn't that long ago he was above 2850 with the highest published rating in FIDE history.

Now I'm not a big one for ratings, but I couldn't help but notice that Chinese 16 year old prodigy Wei Yi pushed his live rating up to 2729.5, within 100 points of Carlsen. Wei Yi sits at number 27 in the December FIDE list, and the 2 are to meet at the Corus tournament in January.

Carlsen is still number 1 on the list and is the only player with a live rating above the 2800 barrier. But somehow his dominance seems to have been questioned. In London he has so far been unable to win a game, though at least he hasn't lost any. Will he be able to get his mojo back? Will he be overtaken? Things are getting interesting at the top of the game, where the gap seems to have closed.

It won't be long before Magnus can be challenged by someone else and not have to be content to play himself.

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