Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The 2800 club

Two big events, and two new members of the 2800 club, at least in a live sense. Nakamura and Giri have joined Carlsen, Grischuk and  Caruana as players whose ratings start with 28. Nakamura is currently leading the Zurich Chess Challenge, while Giri beat Svidler in round 1 of the Tbilisi GP tournament.
Nonetheless the fact that there are now 5 players in this group, and two players joined at the same time indicates that this might be as special an achievement as it once was. I can remember it being quite a big thing when Kasparov was the first player to 2800, although this was tied up with surpassing Fischer's rating record a little earlier.
While the major reason for the growth in 2700 and 2800 rated players is the number of players now on the rating list, there is also a case for the influence of strong chess playing programs as well. Improved prep means the players at the highest level are much more consistent, and probably lose far less due to opening mistakes.
Well that's the theory,  until someone forgets there prep. Nakamura in fact benefited from this after his 3rd round opponent, Karjakin, played into a line that looked dangerous, but is apparently a well known draw, at least to players with strong chess engines. In fact Nakamura seemed a little surprised that Karjakin failed to remember the drawing line. He also realised that any opening novelty gets fed straight into the engine after the game, so was quite happy to give away the rest of the secrets hidden in this line.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2776) - Karjakin,Sergey (2760)
Zurich Chess Challenge chess24.com (5.3), 16.02.2015

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