Reports | December 08, 2012 22:02

Carlsen beats Kasparov's rating record in London

Carlsen beats Kasparov's rating record in London

The London Chess Classic has become a historic tournament on Saturday as with his draw against Hikaru Nakamura, Magnus Carlsen has beaten Garry Kasparov's record rating of 2851. With his win yesterday against Polgar the Norwegian already secured a new rating of 2851, but now even if Carlsen loses his last game on Monday against Anand, he'll leave Londen with a rating gain of 8 points. This means he'll be topping the January FIDE rating list with an Elo of at least 2856.

All games in round 7 ended in draws, and so Carlsen also maintained his 4-point lead over Vladimir Kramnik. However, because the world's number one has his (well deserved!) rest day tomorrow, nothing has been decided yet.

Carlsen will be the highest rated player ever on January 1st, 2013 |  Photos © Ray Morris-Hill

Event London Chess Classic |  PGN via TWIC
Dates December 1st-10th, 2011
Location London, UK
System 9-player round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik, Nakamura, Adams, Polgar, McShane, Jones
Rate of play 2 hours for 40 moves followed by 1 hour for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 61
Prize fund € 160,000
Tiebreak 1. # games won. 2. # games won with Black. 3. Result of the game(s) between the tied players. Otherwise Armageddon.
Notes Draw offers only through the arbiter. 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw. The player who has a “bye” will assist the commentators during the round.

And so he did it. Two years after becoming the world's youngest number one ever, Magnus Carlsen is reaching international headlines once again by becoming the highest rated player ever.

It's pretty cool. It's probably the biggest achievement so far in my career,

he told us in an interview we had with him after the game. The video will be posted as soon as possible!

Before we move on to the game itself, we'll include a tweet from the man who reached 2851 in July 1999 but lost his record today, Garry Kasparov:

Congratulations to @MagnusCarlsen! Could my rating record last other than 13 yrs? It was always 'my' number. 22 was also a good age for me!

Top ratings over the years

Playing Black, Carlsen faced Hikaru Nakamura. The opening was a c3 Sicilian (Alapin), which you don't see too often at this level. Carlsen:

I think we were both pretty surprised by the position that came on the board.

Nakamura said that he had prepared this opening for his game against Topalov at the Grand Prix in September.

At move 16 Carlsen gave a knight for two pawns which seemed quite promising, but when he took on f3 to win a third pawn, it was White who got the upper hand. Still, with some accurate moves the world's number one saved the draw and secured the record.

PGN string

By then Jones and Aronian had finished their game already; a 3.f3 Grünfeld that started very promising but then suddenly petered out into a draw.

PGN string

Not much happened in Polgar-Anand. The Indian felt he might have been slighty better out of the opening, but a few moves later it was White who was pressing a bit. Black's tactic at the end was nice.

PGN string

Yet again Luke McShane was involved in the last game. He was basically defending throughout the game, and many people felt that Adams was going to win another game, but not this time.

PGN string

During Sunday's 8th round, Magnus Carlsen is the one who will be assisting the commentators. We'd say that more than ever, the Livestream page that provides streaming video of the commentary room is worth visiting!

Commentary videos (produced by Macauley Peterson)

Pairings & results

Round 1 01.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 2 0212.12 15:00 CET
McShane 0-3 Carlsen   Polgar 1-1 Jones
Aronian 0-3 Nakamura   Nakamura 0-3 Kramnik
Kramnik 3-0 Polgar   Carlsen 3-0 Aronian
Jones 0-3 Adams   Anand 1-1 McShane
Anand bye Assisting the commentary   Adams bye Assisting the commentary
Round 3 0312.12 15:00 CET   Round 4 04.12.12 17:00 CET
Aronian 1-1 Anand   Nakamura 1-1 Adams
Kramnik 1-1 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Jones
Jones 1-1 Nakamura   Anand 1-1 Kramnik
Adams 3-0 Polgar   McShane 0-3 Aronian
McShane bye Assisting the commentary   Polgar bye Assisting the commentary
Round 5 06.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 6 07.12.12 15:00 CET
Kramnik 3-0 McShane   Carlsen 3-0 Polgar
Jones 0-3 Anand   Anand 0-3 Adams
Adams 0-3 Carlsen   McShane 3-0 Jones
Polgar 0-3 Nakamura   Aronian 1-1 Kramnik
Aronian bye Assisting the commentary   Nakamura bye Assisting the commentary
Round 7 08.12.12 15:00 CET   Round 8 09.12.12 15:00 CET
Jones 1-1 Aronian   Anand - Nakamura
Adams 1-1 McShane   McShane - Polgar
Polgar 1-1 Anand   Aronian - Adams
Nakamura 1-1 Carlsen   Kramnik - Jones
Kramnik bye Assisting the commentary   Carlsen bye Assisting the commentary
Round 9 10.12.12 13:00 CET        
Adams   Kramnik        
Polgar - Aronian        
Nakamura - McShane        
Carlsen - Anand        
Jones bye Assisting the commentary        

London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 7 standings (football)


London Chess Classic 2012 | Round 7 standings (classical)



Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


valg321's picture

leave him be. You're wasting time & energy, he's in a world of his own now

rogge's picture

Yeah, like I said, rough days for the haters (Thomas et al). Never mind, cheers.

Anonymous's picture

In the post game analysis, Calsen agreed that keeping the bishop probably was the way to go. This has nothing to do with "chess understanding", but the difference between playing and watching - a truly rare event for the strongest player in the world. But if it makes you feel better, yes he slightly erred for a moment ;-))

Anonymous's picture

Certainly we’re not satisfied with just winning games. We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey, but we think we can play much better. – Mario Lemieux

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik: 'Carlsen is not a god, well almost, but he's not a god*.

'Magnus performs miracles'

'The position is dead even, so Magnus will win'.

Bobby Fiske's picture

LCC is the arena of double records: While Magnus reached his all-time high Elo rating, Thomas has reached his all-time kibitzing low. Especially your accusing of Jones cheating in round 4 was low-class.

Zeblakob's picture

Hhahah funny. Usually Thomas is not that bad.

Morley's picture

I think Nigel Short also saw that Bxf3 was a mistake, but he admitted it was the move he would probably play as well.

redivivo's picture

Maybe it was an inaccuracy, but hardly a big one. I followed GM Golubev's comments at Chesspro and he suggested the line Carlsen played (and even called it "rather forced"). Maybe Chessbase exaggerate a bit when they talk about "several inaccuracies" giving away Carlsen's "serious winning chances". I wonder if it wasn't just a case of engines being too generous in the evaluation of the black position. All those pawns looked nice but they were easy to handle for white's extra piece and the game was probably always drawn.

Andreas's picture

thanks for that, a contribution to objectivity

MW's picture

In the post game analysis the commentators mentioned to Carlsen that Vlad thought 22.Bxf3 was wrong and Carlsen immediately suggested 22...h6 as an alternative - indicating he had looked at the idea of retaining the two bishops during the game.

Carlsen indicated that he decided on 22...Bxf3 because he missed Nakamura's 26.Qe8. It doesn't appear so much that Carlsen lacked understanding as that he just miscalculated and didn't see a move that would have otherwise caused him to abandon the line he did play. It happens.

redivivo's picture

It's an interesting game to have a look at with engines, and they still seem to be uncertain if Bxf3 or h6 was the best 22nd move for black. Kramnik suggested b4 and that also seems to be worth a closer look.

MW's picture

Funny you should say that. I had just come back to set the computer up to let it think about the position for several hours to see how it rates exactly those three moves relative to one another.

elgransenor1's picture

carlsen plays fast but sometimes too fast. clearly he had already seen the position after ..Qxe5 when he sacrificed on b4, had already assessed it as better for black, and didn't stop to look at any alternatives.

S3's picture

A moot point, but defenitely true.

calvin amari's picture

Typical weapons-grade BS from thomas, grand poo-bah of the Flat Earth Society.

Anonymous's picture

So are all the posters above not agreeing with the notion that there are positions that Carlsen doesn't understand, or are they just group bashing on Thomas? It isn't exactly clear to me.

redivivo's picture

"So are all the posters above not agreeing with the notion that there are positions that Carlsen doesn't understand, or are they just group bashing on Thomas? It isn't exactly clear to me."

I think the thing that is clear to any objective observer is that every game and tournament Carlsen wins is followed by dozens of posts by the same people stating various negative things about Carlsen's chess, combined with accusations about his opponents throwing games against him, others playing better, etc

Anonymous's picture

The amount of follow up postings and insults seems to be a lot bigger ;-). And you still didn't give an answer.

redivivo's picture

According to you it is an insult just to quote posts by people. If the conclusion someone draws from Carlsen's play lately is that there are positions he doesn't understand, I do think they are on the wrong track. If there are positions you don't understand you don't reach 2860.

Anonymous's picture

I think you underestimate the depth of chess. And I don't understand why you all are so obsessed with Thomas and guys with another opinion in general. Just enjoy the moment if you think this record is a big deal.

Anonymous's picture

i think you're wrong. the obsessed nerds on this site are thomas, reality check and s3.

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps, but they sure get way too much (negative) attention of guys like you. And honestly, some of them sound a lot more civilized than you.

Thomas's picture

At least I started a discussion on an interesting game - interesting even when we "try to forget" who played it, and who commented. A few points:

The fact that Carlsen suggested 22.-h6 in the press conference doesn't necessarily mean that he considered it during the game. First, both Nakamura and Carlsen seemed genuinely surprised that something else than 22.-Bxf3 might have been better. Second, Carlsen's comment was with the benefit of hindsight: in the game he had some back rank problems (hence a passive Bf8) which 22.-h6 would have avoided.

On engines: first they seemed to favor black because even they couldn't calculate everything until the end (at least not at search depths used for online transmission). So, like human observers, they went by the "looks" of the position? A bit later they reached and got stuck at 0.00 - live commentary dismissed this as irrelevant ("it won't happen in the game"). But Nakamura went straight down the engine lines: in this case, they weren't too difficult, at least not impossible to find for a strong human GM !?

On chess understanding: it is of course correlated with practical playing strength, but the correlation isn't perfect. To name two other Russians: Dokhoian and Shipov are/were just "average GMs", but they clearly are world-class coaches and commentators. This also requires chess understanding, but it doesn't require coping with tension and fatigue over the board.
I certainly didn't say that Carlsen doesn't have ANY chess understanding, just that Kramnik and Aronian might be better in that respect in the given case. But Carlsen can compensate that 'deficiency' with other things: constant level of play, no problems with fatigue (even if he often looks tired on photos taken during games ...), sheer willpower.

redivivo's picture

The position before Carlsen's 22nd is certainly possible to analyse for hours. If Aronian's h6 or Kramnik's b4 gave the best winning chances for Carlsen is hard to say, even engines looking at great depth seem uncertain if Bxf3 was worse, but it probably was.

trollaras's picture

Kramnik has probably a better chess understanding under "calm" conditions compared to Carlsen (or any other chess player). When he is under pressure during a game his chess understanding is inferior to Carlsen's who has a unique ability to keep his cool thinking no matter what.

bronkenstein's picture

Magnus has better stamina/concentration, while Vlad imHo has better erudition and bit deeper positional understanding (pressured or not).

MC calculates (especially short tactics upon which positional play and great majority of ´normal´ moves depends) better ´on average´ - the difference can be seen in 4th, 5th hour when Vlad is often (arthritis, age etc) losing his thread , starting to miscalculate etc. So MCs performance is more stable/accurate rather than deeper.

There is few more elite players whos strategical thought, erudition and creativity I value more than MCs, such as Chucky and Moro, but since this is rather bloody sport than art or philosophical essay, Magnus is outperforming all of them (and quite convincingly in few recent tournaments).

Anonymous's picture

Only if Carlsen draws his last game with white against Anand AND Kramnik wins both his last two games, they will play an Armageddon tie break to decide the winner of the trophy because their tie (18 points each) wouldn't be broken by all the following tie break criteria applied.

1) number of wins (5 each)
2) number of wins with black (2 each)
3) head to head encounter (draw)

In that case, the Armageddon game would be played with 6 minutes + 2 seconds per move for White, versus 5 minutes + 2 seconds per move for Black (with draw odds for Black). Prize money would be shared regardless of the outcome.

Assuming that Anand doesn't win, but draw against Nakamura tomorrow, if Carlsen wins his last game over Anand (seems well possible with white), he might even be 99 Elo points ahead of the world champion on the January 2013 rating list, missing a whopping 100 Elo gap by the tiniest possible margin of 1/10 of an Elo point! ;-) If it happens, this should also be a truly historic achievement.

Anonymous's picture

Soon we will see the world championship Naka vs. Magnus. It will go down to blitz and Naka will win!!!! He will win!!!

Naka is the King of Chess! He has drawn all his games against Carlsen for 2013. All hail to the King!

Anonymous's picture

Too bad MC isn't world champion....which in the eyes of the public is the only meaningful achievement.

Anonymous's picture

In a world championship match Elo rating points are about as useless as rubber lips on a Woodpecker.

Anonymous's picture

Magnus probably wouldn't like to play Anand in a WC match for humanitarian reasons - he would simply crush the current title holder so very very badly. Why should he do that to Anand? He's an excellent guy after all.

Anonymous's picture

When my horse is running good, I don’t stop to give him carrots.

Anonymous's picture

Oh I see, the very eye of the public. But should he really care? No, Magnus should pick the right moment himself and otherwise do what he's up to.

Anonymous's picture

what kind of public ??? I'm " public " as well and enjoy studying great chess players ... like IVANCHUK

valg321's picture

granted the rating difference between the world no.1 and the world champion is more than substantial and indeed something to talk about, but was there really anyone who thought that Magnus would not break Kasparov's record sooner or later? what i really don't get is all this recent elo mania and the countings and calculations of tenths of points. Are we chess players or accountants?

Anonymous's picture

you have a point here, it's just that 100 points looks more impressive (and catches the eye directly) than "just 99" ;-)

Anonymous's picture

My gosh, some one finaly buried Babe Ruth's batting record.

eric's picture

This is the last tweet from G. Kasparov: "Congratulations to @MagnusCarlsen! Could my rating record last other than 13 yrs? It was always 'my' number. 22 was also a good age for me!"

Bartleby's picture

Carlsen has this record. Congratulations. Whatever it's worth, at least he gets rid of one stupid question.
The big gap to #2 is impressive.
The way he played in London is how a confident stronger player handles weaker opponents. Patient, businesslike, picking up things the others don't see.

Anonymous's picture

It appears that the person who wrote the report missed the fact that Adams missed the win a few times at the heavy piece endgame.

Septimus's picture

Yes. According to the engines, 60.Rd2 was a blunder that let the advantage slip away.

Septimus's picture

Anand should really stop hiding his preparation. Come on WCh, win a game or two! Giving up a line or two of analysis is not that bad.

Anonymous's picture

So will MC enter the world championship cycle of matches next time around?

Bertje Enkelhaar's picture

""Ratings inflation is a myth, disproved by Ken Regan. Ratings are going up over time, yes, but so is quality of play. Some or all of this is due to community progress in opening theory... better understanding of how to play certain positions, etc, rather than people getting smarter, but it remains the case that the #50 player in the world today could smash the #50 player from 1980, and his rating is higher as a result."

This is totally wrong. Elo represents a relativistic value based on expactations of results among players. What you wrote above is like saying.... Prices of houses are getting more and more expensive because the houses are getting better isolated and modern inovations.

Ok not the amount of ratingpoints are interesting but the difference between the players say more. Agree with that one.

brabo's picture

In the 100 meter final is it only the difference between the runners which is interesting or also the individual times? I believe both are interesting, the same with ratings.

filiusdextris's picture

Despite not playing, Carlsen can "win" tomorrow with a Kramnik draw.

trollaras's picture

Carlsen is so elated about his inflated Elo rating. Well done kid. Let's see when and if you decide to compete for the championship.

Anónimo's picture

Till yesterday's comments I was starting to wonder if it was just me the one that had been thinking of Carlsen as the Lasker of our days: Yes, he plays "inaccurately", So what? I wish him to keep his inaccurate play to further heights, and if he finally gets tired of chickening out, work his magic in match play (and against the unpredictable Jhon Doe in the Tromso Olympiad, if he dares!). Congrats to him.

Anonymous's picture

Obviously placing Magnus into the same as Lasker is far too premature. Has he contributed ANYTHING to theory? No. There is no "Magnus" variation in any opening. Until he learns how to give back to chess, there can be no comparison to the greats like Lasker. That's just a fact.


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