January FIDE Ratings: Nakamura Tops Blitz Ahead Of Carlsen
Jan 2, 2020, 2:30 PM 275723 Views 1 Comment

The publication of the new FIDE ratings caused a bit of a stir because Magnus Carlsen is not leading on all three lists. Due to more blitz games being rated than expected, Hikaru Nakamura is the number-one player on the blitz rankings.

Carlsen finished the year 2019 as the world champion in standard, rapid and blitz. As we wrote in our final report, he also topped the live ratings in all three lists, surpassing Nakamura in the blitz thanks to his win in the second playoff game. So it was a surprise when Nakamura was still leading the blitz ratings in the list published by FIDE on December 31.

FIDE Blitz Ratings, January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Nakamura, Hikaru 2900 1987
2 Carlsen, Magnus 2887 1990
3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2822 1990
4 So, Wesley 2816 1993
5 Artemiev, Vladislav 2810 1998
6 Yu, Yangyi 2808 1994
7 Shkuro, Iuri 2804 1982
8 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2799 1998
9 Kramnik, Vladimir 2797 1975
10 Ding, Liren 2788 1992
11 Anand, Viswanathan 2785 1969
12 Andreikin, Dmitry 2783 1990
13 Fedoseev, Vladimir 2781 1995
14 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2779 1990
15 Grischuk, Alexander 2765 1983
16 Matlakov, Maxim 2760 1991
17 Bu, Xiangzhi 2760 1985
18 Rapport, Richard 2759 1996
19 Radjabov, Teimour 2757 1987
20 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2755 1994
Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was Henrik Carlsen, the father of the world champion, who suggested on Twitter that a mistake had been made. FIDE had rated all games of the Grand Chess Tour playoff match for third place between Carlsen and Levon Aronian, even though the match was already decided before the end, and the final three blitz games were just played for the spectators. 

Carlsen senior was referring to paragraph 6.5 of the FIDE Rating Regulations, effective from July 1, 2017, which say:

6.5 Where a match is over a specific number of games, those played after one player has won shall not be rated.

The Twitter account of 2700chess, the site that keeps live ratings up to date for players rated 2700 and above, also expressed surprise. It apologized for having provided data that ended up being different from FIDE's—which rarely happens.

The confusion was initially explained by a segment from the Grand Chess Tour regulations for the playoffs in London, which stated:

All games in each match must be completed, even when a match is already decided. All games (except for the Armageddon tiebreak game if required) will be submitted for the appropriate category of FIDE rating.

However, the fact that the Grand Chess Tour organizers sent all games to FIDE doesn't automatically mean that FIDE will rate them all.

As it turned out, the confusion was based on something else, which Henrik Carlsen readily admitted as soon as he found out. And he was definitely not the only one who missed this particular detail—Nakamura himself also briefly thought his top position in the list was a mistake:

However, FIDE turns out to be right, and the publication of its rating list is correct. The reason is that for rapid and blitz, there are separate rating regulations and there, the relevant paragraph is different:

6.5 Where a match is over a specific number of games, those played after one player has won shall not be rated, if the match was scheduled for more than 8 games.

The playoff matches in London consisted of two standard games, two rapid games and four blitz games, so eight in total. Therefore, paragraph 6.5 can be ignored, and all games should be rated. That's definitely a detail that's easy to miss.

On a final note regarding the blitz ratings, you might have noticed that Iuri Shkuro is still in the world top 10. We first mentioned the Shkuro case in July 2016, where we explained what's happening here: 

As it turns out, the events where Mr. Shkuro won his points have a lot of similarities. They were all held in Ukraine, and each time he played against (much) lower rated opponents. He gained points by getting a huge score, while possessing a K factor of 20.

As we look at in the new rapid rating list, we can see something similar.

FIDE Rapid Ratings, January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2881 1990
2 Ding, Liren 2836 1992
3 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 1987
4 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2807 1990
5 Korobov, Anton 2794 1985
6 Kobylianskyi, Ihor 2787 1969
7 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2786 1983
8 Grischuk, Alexander 2784 1983
9 Aronian, Levon 2778 1982
10 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2774 1998
11 Caruana, Fabiano 2773 1992
12 Dubov, Daniil 2770 1996
13 Artemiev, Vladislav 2769 1998
14 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2761 1985
15 Wang, Hao 2758 1989
16 Radjabov, Teimour 2758 1987
17 Anand, Viswanathan 2751 1969
18 Le, Quang Liem 2744 1991
19 Svidler, Peter 2742 1976
20 Yu, Yangyi 2738 1994

Also here it's an unknown Ukrainian player, FM Ihor Kobylianskyi, who managed to reach the top 10 in the world. Born in 1969, the same year as Vishy Anand, Kobylianskyi also got his high rating from beating a large number of lower-rated players using the high K-factor. 

See also GM Mikhail Golubev's blog on this matter.

Vishy Anand himself is in 17th place in the rapid ratings. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

On the standard list, Carlsen leads with the biggest margin. He has a standard Elo rating of 2872, which is exactly 50 points more than world number-two Fabiano Caruana. Both will be playing in the upcoming Tata Steel Chess tournament in nine days.

World number-three Ding Liren's next tournament will be the candidates, and the same can be said for the world numbers-four and -five, Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The Tata Steel Chess tournament announced today that Nepomniachtchi has withdrawn from the tournament for "being too tired after a long and heavy series of tournaments in 2019" and that he wants to take a break to prepare for the candidates. He will be replaced by another Russian player, Nikita Vitiugov.

FIDE Standard Ratings, January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2872 1990
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2822 1992
3 Ding, Liren 2805 1992
4 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 1983
5 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2774 1990
6 Aronian, Levon 2773 1982
7 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2770 1990
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2770 1985
9 Giri, Anish 2768 1994
10 So, Wesley 2765 1993
11 Radjabov, Teimour 2765 1987
12 Wang, Hao 2758 1989
13 Anand, Viswanathan 2758 1969
14 Rapport, Richard 2758 1996
15 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2758 1983
16 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2758 1998
17 Kramnik, Vladimir 2753 1975
18 Karjakin, Sergey 2752 1990
19 Vitiugov, Nikita 2747 1987
20 Topalov, Veselin 2738 1975

The women's standard list has Hou Yifan still at the top, which is not surprising unless you expected her to have dropped off due to inactivity. However, the Chinese grandmaster did play six rated games this year while mostly focusing on her studies at Oxford.

She played in the 137th varsity match between Cambridge and Oxford, and then three games in the 4NCL back in March, and in November she played two games in the Bundesliga, for OSG Baden-Baden.

In total she won three games, and drew three and now her rating is two points higher than in March, and 80 points higher than runner-up Ju Wenjun, the women's world champion who will be defending her title against Aleksandra Goryachkina in a match that starts January 5.

World number-eight Viktorija Cmilyte, a member of parliament in Lithuania, has been even less active but is still on the list as she played three games in March in the Women's Bundesliga in March.

FIDE Standard Ratings (Women), January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Hou, Yifan 2664 1994
2 Ju, Wenjun 2584 1991
3 Koneru, Humpy 2580 1987
4 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2578 1998
5 Lagno, Kateryna 2552 1989
6 Muzychuk, Mariya 2552 1992
7 Muzychuk, Anna 2539 1990
8 Cmilyte, Viktorija 2538 1983
9 Saduakassova, Dinara 2519 1996
10 Harika, Dronavalli 2518 1991
11 Dzagnidze, Nana 2515 1987
12 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2504 1984
13 Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat 2494 1997
14 Lei, Tingjie 2493 1997
15 Tan, Zhongyi 2493 1991
16 Zhao, Xue 2486 1985
17 Kashlinskaya, Alina 2484 1993
18 Pogonina, Natalija 2479 1985
19 Girya, Olga 2477 1991
20 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2471 2000

Hou is also the number-one in the rapid ratings, but by a much smaller margin. Ju is eight points behind. Surely because of her world title match coming up, she decided to skip the world rapid and blitz last week, where could have earned the top spot in the list.

Hou Yifan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Hou played 14 rapid games in October at the Karpov Trophy in Cap d'Agde, France that were not rated. For the January list, she played three events in December that were rated: a tournament in Salamanca, three games from a China-Russia friendly match and the Belt and Road tournament in China.

FIDE Rapid Ratings (Women), January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Hou, Yifan 2621 1994
2 Ju, Wenjun 2613 1991
3 Muzychuk, Anna 2533 1990
4 Lei, Tingjie 2527 1997
5 Lagno, Kateryna 2521 1989
6 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2517 1984
7 Muzychuk, Mariya 2506 1992
8 Tan, Zhongyi 2501 1991
9 Pogonina, Natalija 2499 1985
10 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2499 1998
11 Girya, Olga 2497 1991
12 Koneru, Humpy 2483 1987
13 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2462 2000
14 Stefanova, Antoaneta 2461 1979
15 Harika, Dronavalli 2450 1991
16 Dzagnidze, Nana 2447 1987
17 Zhao, Xue 2442 1985
18 Arabidze, Meri 2434 1994
19 Chiburdanidze, Maia 2432 1961
20 Gunina, Valentina 2427 1989

Like Carlsen, Hou is leading in the standard and rapid lists, but not in the blitz. In the women's list that's actually Kateryna Lagno, the reigning women's world blitz champion. Lei Tingjie of China is third and Ju Wenjun (rated 2536) is not on the list for inactivity in blitz chess.

FIDE Blitz Ratings (Women), January 2020 (Top 20)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Lagno, Kateryna 2608 1989
2 Hou, Yifan 2576 1994
3 Lei, Tingjie 2530 1997
4 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2521 1984
5 Tan, Zhongyi 2510 1991
6 Muzychuk, Anna 2505 1990
7 Stefanova, Antoaneta 2485 1979
8 Koneru, Humpy 2483 1987
9 Sebag, Marie 2482 1986
10 Gunina, Valentina 2476 1989
11 Matnadze, Ana 2438 1983
12 Chiburdanidze, Maia 2437 1961
13 Arabidze, Meri 2432 1994
14 Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat 2431 1997
15 Zhukova, Natalia 2423 1979
16 Harika, Dronavalli 2422 1991
17 Bodnaruk, Anastasia 2415 1992
18 Galliamova, Alisa 2412 1972
19 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2409 2000
20 Zhao, Xue 2407 1985
Kateryna Lagno. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Alireza Firouzja has been in the news a lot lately—not just because of his intended federation change, but also for his good results. The 16-year-old—now the top player in the Juniors because Wei Yi of China simply got too old for this list—won more than 100 points in the world blitz and added 89 points to his rapid tally.

He'll be back to standard chess (now rated 2723!) soon as he plays in Wijk aan Zee.

FIDE Top Juniors, January 2020 (Top 10)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Firouzja, Alireza 2723 2003
2 Xiong, Jeffery 2712 2000
3 Maghsoodloo, Parham 2674 2000
4 Sevian, Samuel 2660 2000
5 Sarana, Alexey 2656 2000
6 Esipenko, Andrey 2654 2002
7 Tabatabaei, M.amin 2638 2001
8 Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 2635 2004
9 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 2626 2001
10 Nihal Sarin 2618 2004
Alireza Firouzja. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The top 10 of the girls is an international affair with just two players from the same country: Carissa Yip and Annie Wang from the U.S.. The top player is IM Zhansaya Abdumalik, followed by the Chinese WIM Zhu Jiner.

FIDE Top Girls, January 2020 (Top 10)

# Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 Abdumalik, Zhansaya 2471 2000
2 Zhu, Jiner 2459 2002
3 Mammadzada, Gunay 2455 2000
4 Shuvalova, Polina 2445 2001
5 Yip, Carissa 2418 2003
6 Nomin-Erdene, Davaademberel 2417 2000
7 Tsolakidou, Stavroula 2403 2000
8 Badelka, Olga 2392 2002
9 Vaishali R 2386 2001
10 Wang, Annie 2383 2002

All data courtesy FIDE.

Chess.com Blitz and Bullet

Let's check out the current blitz and bullet ratings on Chess.com.

"Household name" is an understatement for Nakamura on Chess.com, where he is still playing a lot, and still topping both lists. In the blitz list, the runner-up is not far behind though: GM Daniel Naroditsky, also from the U.S. One of the many rising stars in India, GM Srinath Narayanan, is actually in fourth place right now.

Chess.com Blitz ratings per Jan. 2, 2020

# Player Rating Won/Lost/Draw
1 GM @Hikaru 3208 13023/2293/1555
2 GM @DanielNaroditsky 3180 8935/4750/1492
3 GM @Bigfish1995 3161 3105/2234/701
4 GM @GMSrinath 3132 728/502/127
5 GM @lachesisQ 3106 1201/649/281
6 GM @Duhless 3103 2080/1137/451
7 GM @Firouzja2003 3091 4446/2906/997
8 GM @nihalsarin 3081 8471/5444/1479
9 GM @penguingm1 3072 1542/928/196
10 GM @Sibelephant 3070 284/86/59

(See full list here.)

In the bullet, Nakamura's lead is more than 100 points. The runner-up is Shant Sargsyan of Armenia, followed by Firouzja. Also on Chess.com, the Iranian star is one of the very best!

Chess.com Bullet ratings per Jan. 2, 2020

# Player Rating Won/Lost/Draw
1 GM @Hikaru 3303 8812/1081/457
2 GM @Shant_Sargsyan 3200 3411/3416/688
3 GM @Firouzja2003 3179 9574/6273/1082
4 GM @nihalsarin 3156 6454/3864/867
5 GM @penguingm1 3140 10431/5578/826
6 GM @DanielNaroditsky 3086 11188/6460/1145
7 GM @Konavets 3051 325/247/40
8 GM @LyonBeast 3036 708/256/96
9 GM @Sibelephant 3029 36/14/12
10 IM @wonderfultime 3028 5112/4997/814

(See full list here.)