Caruana Closing In On Carlsen In Feb. Ratings
The top American is closing in on the world champion in the latest ratings list.

Caruana Closing In On Carlsen In Feb. Ratings

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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39 | Chess Players

One tournament can make a big difference.

Thanks to his fantastic Tata Steel Chess tournament, Fabiano Caruana is just 20 points behind Magnus Carlsen in the February FIDE ratings

Caruana won 19.6 Elo points in Wijk aan Zee. That's a lot for just one event, especially for someone rated above 2800. Carlsen lost 9.6 points, decreasing the difference between the top two players in the world by nearly 30 points.

After rounding up their new ratings, Carlsen ended on 2862 and Caruana on 2842 (nine points below his highest-ever live rating), a difference of just 20 points. With one or two more great performances by Caruana, the world champion's number-one status could be under pressure again.

Two years ago, Caruana won the 2018 Candidates' Tournament and then the Grenke Chess Classic. A repeat of those achievements would be historic in terms of ratings as well.

Fabiano Caruana in Wijk aan Zee.
Fabiano Caruana in Wijk aan Zee. | Photo: Alina l'Ami/Tata Steel Chess.

The top 10 saw few changes otherwise, except for Wesley So winning 5.4 points in Wijk aan Zee and Anish Giri losing 5.2 points, which pushed him out of the top 10. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov lost 5.7 points in Gibraltar, but that wasn't calculated in this list yet.

Due to losing 16.1 points, also in Wijk aan Zee, Nikita Vitiugov dropped out of the world's top 20.

FIDE Standard Ratings, February 2020 (Top 20)

Rank Fed Name Rating Games B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2862 13 1990
2 Caruana, Fabiano 2842 13 1992
3 Ding Liren 2805 0 1992
4 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 0 1983
5 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2774 0 1990
6 Aronian, Levon 2773 0 1982
7 So, Wesley 2770 13 1993
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2770 0 1985
9 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2770 0 1990
10 Radjabov, Teimour 2765 0 1987
11 Giri, Anish 2763 13 1994
12 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2758 0 1983
13 Rapport, Richard 2758 0 1996
14 Wang Hao 2758 0 1989
15 Anand, Viswanathan 2755 13 1969
16 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2755 13 1998
17 Karjakin, Sergey 2752 0 1990
18 Topalov, Veselin 2738 0 1975
19 Nakamura, Hikaru 2736 0 1987
20 Wei Yi 2732 0 1999

Last month we discussed the new rapid and blitz ratings, right after the world rapid and blitz championships had ended. As there were no speed chess events in January, nothing has changed a month later except for the absence of two Ukrainians at the very top.

FM Ihor Kobylianskyi would still be the world number-six in the rapid ratings, and GM Iuri Shkuro would be the world number-seven in the blitz ratings if FIDE hadn't decided to hold them as "inactive." Both obtained high enough ratings to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with super-GMs thanks to high scores in local tournaments against low opposition. These results created at least a strong suspicion of rating manipulation.

Kobylianskyi rapid rating progress
Kobylianski's rapid rating progress. Source: FIDE.

The situation of Shkuro (who was in the blitz top 10 for several years before dropping out due to inactivity and returning in January) and now Kobylianski has been a thorn in the side of top grandmasters, even though some have been heard joking about "being above Shkuro" as something for which to strive.

Ian Nepomniachtchi in an interview with Chess.com back in October was less relaxed about it:

The only people who I truly dislike are those who buy and sell games, ratings and titles.

On Thursday, FIDE announced that it has started an investigation into the results of the two players, in an attempt to "avoid accusations from interested parties of poor sportsmanship and questionable ethical practices when registering and submitting tournaments for rating."

As a result, we are back to having "clean" rating lists:

FIDE Rapid Ratings, February 2020 (Top 20)

Rank Fed Name Rating Games B-Year
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2881 0 1990
2 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2860 0 1990
3 Ding Liren 2836 0 1992
4 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 0 1987
5 Korobov, Anton 2794 0 1985
6 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2786 0 1983
7 Grischuk, Alexander 2784 0 1983
8 Aronian, Levon 2778 0 1982
9 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2778 0 1990
10 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2774 0 1998
11 Caruana, Fabiano 2773 0 1992
12 Dubov, Daniil 2770 0 1996
13 Artemiev, Vladislav 2769 0 1998
14 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2761 0 1985
15 Radjabov, Teimour 2758 0 1987
16 Wang Hao 2758 0 1989
17 Wei Yi 2752 0 1999
18 Anand, Viswanathan 2751 0 1969
19 Le Quang Liem 2744 0 1991
20 Svidler, Peter 2742 0 1976


FIDE Blitz Ratings, February 2020 (Top 20)

Rank Fed Name Rating Games B-Year
1 Nakamura, Hikaru 2900 0 1987
2 Carlsen, Magnus 2887 0 1990
3 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2822 0 1990
4 So, Wesley 2816 0 1993
5 Artemiev, Vladislav 2810 0 1998
6 Yu Yangyi 2808 0 1994
7 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2799 0 1998
8 Kramnik, Vladimir 2797 0 1975
9 Ding Liren 2788 0 1992
10 Anand, Viswanathan 2785 0 1969
11 Andreikin, Dmitry 2783 0 1990
12 Fedoseev, Vladimir 2781 0 1995
13 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2779 0 1990
14 Grischuk, Alexander 2765 0 1983
15 Bu Xiangzhi 2760 0 1985
16 Matlakov, Maxim 2760 0 1991
17 Rapport, Richard 2759 0 1996
18 Radjabov, Teimour 2757 0 1987
19 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2755 0 1994
20 Svidler, Peter 2754 0 1976

The women's standard list saw little change, which will be different next month when the Gibraltar results have been added. Ju Wenjun handed 1.2 ratings points to Aleksandra Goryachkina as the classical part of their world title match ended 6-6. (Ju's 2.5-1.5 win in the playoff also transferred 2.8 rapid rating points to her lower-rated opponent.) 

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

Rank Fed Name Rating Games B-Year
1 Hou Yifan 2664 0 1994
2 Ju Wenjun 2583 12 1991
3 Koneru, Humpy 2580 0 1987
4 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2579 12 1998
5 Lagno, Kateryna 2552 0 1989
6 Muzychuk, Mariya 2552 0 1992
7 Muzychuk, Anna 2539 0 1990
8 Cmilyte, Viktorija 2538 0 1983
9 Harika, Dronavalli 2518 0 1991
10 Dzagnidze, Nana 2515 0 1987
11 Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2504 0 1984
12 Saduakassova, Dinara 2500 13 1996
13 Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat 2494 0 1997
14 Lei Tingjie 2493 0 1997
15 Tan Zhongyi 2493 0 1991
16 Zhao Xue 2486 0 1985
17 Kashlinskaya, Alina 2484 0 1993
18 Pogonina, Natalija 2479 0 1985
19 Girya, Olga 2477 0 1991
20 Paehtz, Elisabeth 2472 2 1985

Playing under the FIDE flag, Alireza Firouzja ended up gaining three rating points in Wijk aan Zee, while Jeffery Xiong (U.S.) lost three. They remain the only two 2700+ players among the juniors. Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan climbed to the seventh spot thanks to winning nine points in the Tata Steel Challengers.

Armenia's Haik Martirosyan won 17.3 points while playing two open tournaments in Switzerland and the Armenian league. He's now the ninth-ranked junior in the world, pushing Nihal Sarin out of the top 10. 

FIDE Top Juniors, February 2020 (Top 10)

Rank Fed Name Rating Games B-Year
1 Firouzja, Alireza 2726 13 2003
2 Xiong, Jeffery 2709 20 2000
3 Maghsoodloo, Parham 2674 0 2000
4 Sevian, Samuel 2660 0 2000
5 Sarana, Alexey 2656 0 2000
6 Esipenko, Andrey 2654 0 2002
7 Abdusattorov, Nodirbek 2644 13 2004
8 Tabatabaei, M.amin 2638 0 2001
9 Martirosyan, Haik M. 2630 23 2000
10 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel 2626 0 2001

The top 10 of the girls hardly changed. It is still a very international affair with just two players from the same country: Carissa Yip and Annie Wang from the U.S. Zhansaya Abdumalik top the standings with her +10.3 points from Gibraltar still to be added next month.

FIDE Top Girls, February 2020 (Top 10)

Rank Fed Name Title Rating Games B-Year
1 Abdumalik, Zhansaya m 2471 0 2000
2 Zhu Jiner wm 2459 0 2002
3 Mammadzada, Gunay m 2455 0 2000
4 Shuvalova, Polina wg 2445 0 2001
5 Nomin-Erdene, Davaademberel m 2417 0 2000
6 Yip, Carissa f 2412 27 2003
7 Badelka, Olga m 2404 9 2002
8 Tsolakidou, Stavroula m 2391 14 2000
9 Wang, Annie m 2386 4 2002
10 Vaishali R wg 2383 9 2001

All data courtesy FIDE.

Chess.com Blitz and Bullet

Let's also check out the current blitz and bullet ratings on Chess.com. On our site, it's usually more interesting to look at who is number two, as the number-one is ordinarily Hikaru Nakamura—in both lists.

Compared to last month, Daniel Naroditsky has dropped from second to fifth place in the blitz rankings. Right behind Nakamura we now find Firouzja, who is doing great in both over-the-board and online chess.

Chess.com Blitz ratings per Jan. 31, 2020

# Player Rating Won/Lost/Draw
1 GM @Hikaru 3261 13212/2340/1588
2 GM @Firouzja2003 3201 4555/2985/1028
3 GM @lachesisQ 3161 1249/688/296
4 GM @Bigfish1995 3129 3264/2368/743
5 GM @DanielNaroditsky 3099 9328/4913/1550
6 GM @Grischuk 3093 247/174/129
7 GM @nihalsarin 3074 8563/5495/1500
8 GM @Sibelephant 3070 284/86/59
9 GM @MichaelRoiz 3052 3064/1573/978
10 GM @LevonAronian 3052 44/36/36

(See the full and most up-to-date list here.)

Last month, Nakamura's lead over Shant Sargsyan of Armenia was still more than 100 points, but if we look at the bullet list now we see that it's just 16 points. Here, Firouzja was third but now has dropped out of the top 10. It's Naroditsky who is "best of the rest," behind the two 3200+ giants.

Chess.com Bullet ratings per Jan. 31, 2020

# Player Rating Won/Lost/Draw #1
1 GM @Hikaru 3216 8841/1095/459
2 GM @Shant_Sargsyan 3200 3411/3416/688
3 GM @DanielNaroditsky 3161 11643/6625/1189
4 GM @nihalsarin 3156 6468/3871/873
5 GM @penguingm1 3138 10452/5584/826
6 GM @Micki-taryan 3104 10797/8396/1178
7 GM @lachesisQ 3065 214/147/37
8 GM @Arabicfalcon 3058 1222/848/129
9 GM @Oleksandr_Bortnyk 3056 2889/1980/317
10 GM @Konavets 3051 325/247/40

(See the full and most up-to-date list here.)

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