In January 2013 Magnus Carlsen officially became the highest-rated chess player ever, beating the seemingly unsurpassable achievement of Garry Kasparov (2851). Magnus’ ELO reached a skyrocket height of 2861. However, after winning Tata Steel Chess Tournament Carlsen’s February FIDE rating is expected to be 2872, which is another record. Many people have announced a “countdown to 2900”, eagerly anticipating Magnus to hit that ethereal mark. So, how good are his chances?
Magnus Carlsen’s rating history
As one can easily see from the graph, Magnus Carlsen is an improving player (sounds funny, right?). His rating tends to grow over time.
Over the last two years Magnus Carlsen has been steadily (!) increasing his ELO, from 2802 in November 2010 to 2872 in February 2013. He hasn’t experienced any failures at all. Carlsen’s performances over this period range from 2826 to 2990. The young GM’s last four results are particularly impressive: 2892, 2889, 2990 and 2933. These figures seem to prove that 2900 is a realistic goal for the Norwegian chess genius.
Tata Steel Chess, 10/13, Performance: 2933
London Classic-2012, 6.5/8, Performance: 2990
Grand Slam Final, 6.5/10, Performance: 2889
Biel, 7/10, Performance: 2892
Tal Memorial, 5.5/9, Performance: 2859
Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 8/13, Performance: 2841
London Classic-2011, 5.5/8, Performance: 2888
Tal Memorial-2011, 5.5/9, Performance: 2860
Grand Slam Final, 6/10, Performance: 2852
Biel, 7/10, Performance: 2846
Kings Tournament, 6.5/10, Performance: 2866
Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 8/13, Performance: 2826
London Classic-2010, 4.5/7, Performance: 2828
Nanjing-2010, 7/10, Performance: 2914
Will he make it?
While one knows for sure whether Magnus Carlsen will break the 2900 threshold at some point or not, certain arguments can be introduced.
a) Chess mastery and ratings tend to grow over time. Hence, rating records are likely to continue being broken in the future.
b) Magnus Carlsen is only 22. Meanwhile, while there seems to be no scientifically verified data on when chess masters usually peak, the most commonly mentioned figures are between 30 and 40. Given his rapid progress, Magnus is quite likely to earn another 28 rating points at a certain stage of his career.
c) Carlsen’s recent performances indicate that he is already capable of playing at 2900+ level. Now it’s all about consistency.
The main problem here is the human factor. Unlike a chess engine, no human can keep maintaining a stable performance forever. Theoretically speaking, Magnus can lose motivation and/or interest in the game, or play somewhere off-form, losing a bunch of points. No one is insured against such scenarios.
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Image Copyright: Magnus Carlsen’s Official Website