Chess

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The Independent Culture
THE LATEST figures from the late Professor Elo's computer show the gap between Garry Kasparov and the rest of the world widening, and neither of his potential challengers even in the top 10. But before the world champion gets over-confident, he should think about what the figures really signify.

The wonder of the Elo rating system is that it provides an absolute measure of performance, not just a ranking order. Its statistical analysis of results enables precise predictions to be made of future results. But the world championship cycle can produce significant distortion in the figures.

Before Nigel Short beat Anatoly Karpov, he came last in Linares and shed a bucketful of rating points. After beating Karpov, he continued having indifferent results. Jan Timman, meanwhile, finished in bottom place in Moscow last month.

These two men, alone among grandmasters, have more important matters to think about than winning tournaments.

In Spain on Sunday, they start their world championship Candidates final match. And Karpov, Ivanchuk, Anand, Gelfand, Kramnik and the others rated above them can only look on and seethe with envy. Anyway, for what it's worth, here is the current top 20:

----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Kasparov (Russia) . . . . . . . . . .2805 2 Karpov (Russia) . . . . . . . . . . .2725 3= Ivanchuk (Ukraine). . . . . . . . . .2710 3= Anand (India) . . . . . . . . . . . .2710 5 Gelfand (Belarus) . . . . . . . . . .2690 6 Kramnik (Russia). . . . . . . . . . .2685 7= Shirov (Latvia) . . . . . . . . . . .2670 7= Bareyev (Russia). . . . . . . . . . .2670 9= Georgiev (Bulgaria) . . . . . . . . .2660 9= Salov (Russia . . . . . . . . . . . .2660 11 Azmaiparashvili (Geo). . . . . . . .2655 11= Kamsky (USA) . . . . . . . . . . . .2655 11= Short (England). . . . . . . . . . .2655 14= Lautier (France) . . . . . . . . . .2645 14= Yusupov (Russia) . . . . . . . . . .2645 16 Sokolov (Bosnia) . . . . . . . . . .2640 17 Topalov (Bulgaria) . . . . . . . . .2635 17= Timman (Neth'lnds) . . . . . . . . .2635 17= Polugayevsky (Rus.). . . . . . . . .2635 20= Adams (England). . . . . . . . . . .2630 21= Nikolic (Bosnia) . . . . . . . . . .2630 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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