General Mar 3, 2021 | 8:29 AMby Tarjei Svensen

Carlsen's 117th time as world number one as Van Foreest & Esipenko join 2700 club

The Tata Steel Chess Masters was among the few events that counted towards the March 2021 FIDE Rating List that was published on Monday. Ratings winners Jorden van Foreest (+30 to 2701) and Andrey Esipenko (+24 to 2701) are new entries in the 2700 club, while Magnus Carlsen's disappointing 6th place led to him dropping 15 points to 2847, narrowing the gap to Fabiano Caruana, who is now 27 points behind at 2820. The World Champion may in any case celebrate 10 consecutive years at number one if he remains on top until July!

2021 Tata Steel Masters winner Jorden van Foreest gained a whopping 30 points in Wijk aan Zee, while World Champion Magnus Carlsen's disastrous 6th place saw him drop 15 points | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021

The chess world is still heavily affected by the pandemic and the Tata Steel Chess Masters was the only major tournament rated on FIDE's rating list for March. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel with the FIDE Candidates Tournament resuming in April, Altibox Norway Chess returning with a global event in May, the traditional Tepe Sigeman & Co Chess tournament with Anatoly Karpov in April and Grand Chess Tour events scheduled for the summer.

Carlsen's 117th time as world number one

FIDE's March 2021 Rating List sees Magnus Carlsen (2847) on top for the 117th time since his first appearance as number one in January 2010. He's been no. 1 for a total of 128 months as at first the lists weren't published monthly, while since July 2011 the 30-year-old has been the world's highest-rated chess player on 111 consecutive lists, meaning he can celebrate an incredible 10-year anniversary if he remains number 1 until July.

Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave dropped a combined 41 rating points after disappointing results in Wijk aan Zee. In the last round, they had almost nothing to play for | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021

However, the Norwegian had a disappointing start to 2021 with a shocking 6th place in Wijk aan Zee after nine draws and a loss to Russian youngster Andrey Esipenko. The result, in what he considers his favourite event, was his worst since finishing 13th as a 16-year old in 2007. The performance led to him dropping 15 rating points to 2847 on the March list, 35 points behind the 'world record' of 2882 he reached in 2014 and tied in 2019.

March 2021 FIDE Rating List

RankFeb 2021NameCountryTitleRatingFeb 2021Games
11Carlsen, MagnusGM2847 -15286213
22Caruana, FabianoGM2820 -3282313
33Ding, LirenGM2791  27910
44Nepomniachtchi, IanGM2789  27890
▲ 56Aronian, LevonGM2781  27810
▲ 67Grischuk, AlexanderGM2777  27770
▲ 711Giri, AnishGM2776 +12276413
 88Mamedyarov, ShakhriyarGM2770  27700
 99So, WesleyGM2770  27700
1010Radjabov, TeimourGM2765  27650
▲ 1112Rapport, RichardGM2763  27630
▲ 1213Wang, HaoGM2763  27630
▲ 1317Firouzja, AlirezaGM2759 +10274913
▼ 145Vachier-Lagrave, MaximeGM2758 -26278413
▼ 1514Dominguez Perez, LeinierGM2758  27580
▼ 1615Karjakin, SergeyGM2757  27570
▼ 1716Anand, ViswanathanGM2753  27530
▲ 1819Nakamura, HikaruGM2736  27360
▲ 1920Topalov, VeselinGM2735  27350
▲ 2022Wei, YiGM2732  27320
2121Harikrishna, PentalaGM2730 -2273213
▼ 2218Duda, Jan-KrzysztofGM2729 -14274313
2323Vidit, Santosh GujrathiGM2726  27260
2424Andreikin, DmitryGM2725  27250
2525Adams, MichaelGM2716  27160
2626Vitiugov, NikitaGM2715  27150
2727Svidler, PeterGM2714  27140
2828Dubov, DaniilGM2710  27100
2929Vallejo Pons, FranciscoGM2710  27100
3030Artemiev, VladislavGM2709  27090
3131Le, Quang LiemGM2709  27090
3232Xiong, JefferyGM2709  27090
3333Yu, YangyiGM2709  27090
3434Tomashevsky, EvgenyGM2706  27060
3535Bu, XiangzhiGM2705  27050
▲ 3659Esipenko, AndreyGM2701 +24267713
▲ 3766Van Foreest, JordenGM2701 +30267113
▼ 3837Kryvoruchko, YuriyGM2699  26990
▼ 3938Navara, DavidGM2697  26970
▼ 4039Alekseenko, KirillGM2696  26960
▼ 4140Amin, BassemGM2695  26950
▼ 4236Wojtaszek, RadoslawGM2694 -11270513
▼ 4341Sadler, Matthew DGM2694  26940
▼ 4442Shankland, SamGM2691  26910
▼ 4543Predke, AlexandrGM2690  26900
▼ 4644Matlakov, MaximGM2688  26880
▼ 4745Almasi, ZoltanGM2687  26870
▼ 4846Areshchenko, AlexanderGM2687  26870
▼ 4947Fedoseev, VladimirGM2687  26870
▼ 5048Jakovenko, DmitryGM2684  26840
▼ 5149Korobov, AntonGM2683  26830
▼ 5250Li, Chao bGM2683  26830
▼ 5351Salem, A.R. SalehGM2682  26820
▼ 5452Sargissian, GabrielGM2682  26820
▼ 5553Ragger, MarkusGM2680  26800
▼ 5655Nyzhnyk, IllyaGM2679  26790
5757Bacrot, EtienneGM2678  26780
5858Ivanchuk, VasylGM2678  26780
▲ 5960Gelfand, BorisGM2676  26760
▲ 6061Maghsoodloo, ParhamGM2676  26760
▲ 6162McShane, Luke JGM2674  26740
▼ 6254Anton Guijarro, DavidGM2673 -6267913
6363Berkes, FerencGM2673  26730
6464Robson, RayGM2673  26730
6565Eljanov, PavelGM2672  26720
▲ 6676Grandelius, NilsGM2670 +7266313
6767Bluebaum, MatthiasGM2670  26700
6868Jones, Gawain C BGM2670  26700
6969Wang, YueGM2669  26690
7070Cheparinov, IvanGM2667  26670
7171Ni, HuaGM2667  26670
7272Guseinov, GadirGM2665  26650
7373Kamsky, GataGM2665  26650
7474Malakhov, VladimirGM2665  26650
7575Abasov, NijatGM2664  26640
▲ 7677Leko, PeterGM2663  26630
▲ 7778Melkumyan, HrantGM2663  26630
▲ 7879Sjugirov, SananGM2663  26630
▲ 7980Kasimdzhanov, RustamGM2662  26620
▲ 8081Shirov, AlexeiGM2662  26620
▲ 8182Sevian, SamuelGM2660  26600
▼ 8256Donchenko, AlexanderGM2659 -19267813
8383Adhiban, B.GM2659  26590
8484Morozevich, AlexanderGM2659  26590
8585Hou, YifanGM2658  26580
8686Howell, David W LGM2658  26580
8787Lupulescu, ConstantinGM2656  26560
8888Nisipeanu, Liviu-DieterGM2656  26560
8989Inarkiev, ErnestoGM2654  26540
9090Mamedov, RaufGM2654  26540
9191Cori, JorgeGM2652  26520
9292Oparin, GrigoriyGM2652  26520
9393Rakhmanov, AleksandrGM2651  26510
9494Volokitin, AndreiGM2650  26500
9595Naiditsch, ArkadijGM2649  26490
9696Onischuk, AlexanderGM2649  26490
9797Sarana, AlexeyGM2649  26490
9898Swiercz, DariuszGM2649  26490
▲ 99100Kovalev, VladislavGM2648  26480
▲ 100101Najer, EvgeniyGM2648  26480
▼ 10199Saric, IvanGM2648  26480

In a recent interview with Norwegian News Agency NTB, Carlsen said he has lacked confidence and that his opponents have been able to find and exploit his weaknesses. However, the Norwegian thinks there is plenty of time to get back into shape before he defends his World Championship title for the 4th time in a match scheduled for Dubai between November 24th and December 16th.

If I win the World Championship I will be satisfied with 2021 regardless. But I have to be realistic that even though I want to win everything in 2021, I may not succeed. I should rather try to focus on getting lots of positive experience before the World Championship match.

Carlsen's 2018 challenger Fabiano Caruana dropped three points with his 4th place finish in Wijk aan Zee, but remains the world number two for the 35th time in a row and has narrowed the gap slightly. For Maxime Vachier-Lagrave the event was a disaster as he finished 13th, dropping 26 rating points and falling from 5th to 14th on the world rankings. 

The French co-leader of the Candidates reflected on the result in a post on his own website.

Concerning the overall analysis of my tournament, I’m not going to beat around the bush, it was clearly a failure all way long. Obviously, there were a lot of things that didn’t work. Having said that, I prefer to take this as a no-cost warning and frankly, I don’t expect to show this terrible level of play in the Candidates. In any case, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The second biggest rating loser in Wijk aan Zee was Alexander Donchenko, who came in as a last-minute replacement when Daniil Dubov was forced to cancel his participation. The German youngster dropped 19 points to 2659 after finishing last in the event, falling 26 places on the world rankings to 83rd in the process.

Another significant drop was for Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who is now out of the top 20 after losing 14 points to move to 2729. The Tata Steel Chess Masters was a disappointment for Poland in general, as Duda's countryman Radoslaw Wojtaszek fell out of the 2700 club, dropping 11 points to 2694.

The winners

The biggest gain on the list was for the sensational Tata Steel Chess winner Jorden van Foreest, who joined the 2700 club for the first time after gaining a massive 30 points. The 21-year-old youngster remained undefeated in 13 rounds, winning five games and scoring 8.5 points to become the first Dutch winner of Wijk aan Zee in 36 years.

Jorden van Foreest was the first Dutch winner in Wijk aan Zee since Jan Timman took home the trophy in 1985! | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021

Van Foreest is 36th on the world rankings with 2701, alongside the three years younger Andrey Esipenko, the other major ratings winner of Wijk aan Zee. The 18-year old Russian gained 24 points in the event after four wins, including a sensational one against none other than Carlsen.

Esipenko is second among the world's best juniors, 58 points behind Alireza Firouzja (2759), another Wijk aan Zee ratings winner. The Iranian, who is expected to represent France in the future, gained 10 rating points and climbed to 13th on the overall world rankings after an impressive 5th place.

RankFeb 2021JuniorCountryTitleRatingFeb 2021Games
  11Firouzja, AlirezaGM2759 +10274913
  22Esipenko, AndreyGM2701 +24267713
  33Tabatabaei, M.aminGM2629  26290
  44Abdusattorov, NodirbekGM2627  26270
  55Deac, Bogdan-DanielGM2625  26250
  66Nihal SarinGM2620  26200
  77Praggnanandhaa RGM2608  26080
  88Yakubboev, NodirbekGM2605  26050
  99Shevchenko, KirillGM2599  25990
  1010Hakobyan, AramGM2598  25980

Last but not least, Anish Giri climbed to 7th place on the world rankings with 2776 after gaining 12 points in Wijk aan Zee. The Dutchman lost a thrilling playoff against countryman van Foreest, but proved he remains a serious contender to become Carlsen's challenger if he can maintain the same level in Yekaterinburg.

While not counted for FIDE ratings, the next big tournament on the chess calendar is the fourth event on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour that takes place from March 13th to 21st. More details to come next week! 

Don't forget to check out our 2021 Chess Calendar, which will be updated as soon as new events are scheduled.

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