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General Mar 1, 2023 | 1:44 PMby Colin McGourty

March 2023 FIDE Ratings: Gukesh & Aronian rise, Karjakin out

16-year-old Indian prodigy Gukesh is back at a career high world no. 18 on the March 2023 FIDE rating list after gaining 12 points in the recent WR Chess Masters. The winner, Levon Aronian, is up to world no. 12, while Sergey Karjakin is no longer in the world top 10 after failing to play a classical game in the last year.

Gukesh & Aronian tied for 1st in the WR Chess Masters, before Levon won the playoff | photo: Lennart Ootes

WR Chess Masters shakes up the rating list

During the recent WR Chess Masters in Dusseldorf, the live rating list was in flux, with the headlines changing by the day.

18-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov, one of the stars of the Tata Steel Masters, won in the 2nd round to climb to a career best world no. 14, with a top 10 spot well within reach.

Ian Nepomniachtchi drew his first six games and looked about to drop below his World Championship challenger Ding Liren to world no. 3.

Levon Aronian’s three wins in five rounds took him into the top 10 for the first time since October.

Things changed fast, however. Abdusattorov lost two of the next three games, so that he ended up maintaining the status quo — or rather moving up one spot, for reasons we’ll get to.

Ian Nepomniachtchi took advantage of Levon Aronian wrongly claiming a draw and won that game, and again in the last round, to end his World Championship warm-up on a high as world no. 2. That meant Levon fell just short of the Top 10, though he had little to complain about.

The biggest mover in the end (Anish Giri lost 12 rating points, but remained world no. 5) was 16-year-old Gukesh, who reached the WR Masters playoff with an unbeaten +2 and climbed to the world no. 18 spot on 2730, a point behind Nodirbek Abdusattorov and level with Vidit. Gukesh’s number of games played sees him placed ahead of Vidit as the Indian no. 2, with Vishy Anand the no. 1, and in the world no. 9 spot.

Anish Giri and Gukesh had very different tournaments, but they enjoyed combining for bughouse! | photo: Lennart Ootes

Gukesh has scored an unbeaten +4 in the 15 rounds since he started the year by losing four of his first seven games in Wijk aan Zee.

March 2023 FIDE Rating List

Sergey Karjakin no longer world no. 10

One of the biggest talking points about the list is that Sergey Karjakin no longer features as world no. 10 since he’s considered inactive after over a year without playing a rated classical game.

Karjakin finished 5th in the 2022 Tata Steel Masters and gained four points for a rating of 2747 and 18th place on the March 1st 2022 FIDE rating list. That was the same day Karjakin celebrated the first day of a “Russian spring”…

…and his outspoken support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine soon saw him banned from FIDE events for six months.

Karjakin imposed a self-ban after that, as he refused to play in events where he couldn’t have the Russian flag at the board. In terms of the rating list, at least, the strategy of not playing was a success, since by November 1st 2022 his same 2747 was enough for the world no. 10 spot.

Now, with Karjakin inactive, the world no. 10 is Teimour Radjabov, who himself hasn’t played a classical game since last year’s Candidates Tournament.

Karjakin, meanwhile, was recently elected President of the Moscow Region Chess Federation.

Humpy Koneru world no. 2, Kosteniuk climbs

There were no changes in the ranking of the Top 10 juniors, with Alireza Firouzja (2785), Nodirbek Abdusattorov (2731) and Gukesh (2730) still heading the list, while it was all change on the March 2023 FIDE Women's Rating List.

Alexandra Kosteniuk’s victory in the Munich FIDE Grand Prix saw her gain 17 points to climb to world no. 7.

Humpy Koneru took 2nd place in Munich, which was enough to see her edge out Aleksandra Goryachkina as the women’s world no. 2. Hou Yifan actually played an event, the Chinese Chess League. She dropped 10 points, despite not losing a game, but still remains 52 points clear in 1st place.

Wesley So takes the lead on the FIDE Circuit

Wesley So’s consistency is so far paying off on the FIDE Circuit, with 4th place in both Wijk aan Zee and Dusseldorf giving him the lead in the race to earn a Candidates spot. 2nd place Anish Giri is unlikely to count the WR Masters in his top five events by the end of the year, since he scored 12 circuit points less than Wesley, despite scoring just half a point less — strange things happen when six players share last place!

Levon Aronian’s victory in the WR Chess Masters has, however, catapulted him right into contention.

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