Chess: Ex-Soviet stars dominate ratings

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The Independent Culture
THE OFFICIAL receivers for the Soviet Union plc can be content, as their annual report for 1993 is put together, at the disposal of its assets. According to the latest figures supplied by the auditors, or the Fide rating list as it is commonly known, by the end of 1993 the top 43 players in the world included 28 former Soviet grandmasters, representing 13 nations.

Quite apart from Russia, which has 10 of the 43 players rated at 2,610 or above, and Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Estonia, Armenia and Georgia, which add another seven to the total, the list includes four American ex-Soviets, two from each of Israel and Germany, and a Hungarian, a Belgian and a Swiss.

Interestingly, the two Western countries that provided contestants for the recent world title matches, England and the Netherlands, are unusual in not being led by a Soviet grandmaster of their own. The export policy is clearly to trade with countries where the need is greatest.

However, the general slow slide among the English ratings in recent years has continued, though with six players in the top hundred (or seven in the top 101, if we include, as we and Fide surely ought, Short and Kasparov), England still rates among the very top chess nations.

Generalities apart, here are the leading names and ratings on the January 1994 Fide list: remember that Kasparov (around 2,800) and Short (around 2,665) are still left off the list for their alleged mutiny against Fide:

----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Karpov (Russia) 2740 2 Anand (India) 2715 3 Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 2710 4 Kramnik (Russia) 2710 5 Shirov (Latvia) 2705 6 Kamsky (US) 2695 7 Salov (Russia) 2685 8 Bareyev (Russia) 2685 9 Gelfand (Belarus) 2685 10 Epishin (Russia) 2675 11 Yusupov (Germany) 2665 12 Adams (England) 2660 13 Khalifman (Russia) 2660 14 Sokolov (Bosnia) 2650 15 Belyavsky (Ukraine) 2650 16 Dreyev (Russia) 2645 17 Kaidanov (US) 2645 18 Topalov (Bulgaria) 2640 19 Chernin (Hungary) 2630 20 Tiviakov (Russia) 2630 21 J Polgar (Hungary) 2630 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Notable names lower down the list include Timman (in 28th place), Speelman and Nunn (sharing 44th), Miles (61st) and Hodgson (88th). Boris Spassky still scrapes into the top hundred with a rating of 2,565, leaving him sharing 99th place with 10 others, including Murray Chandler.

We can be encouraged by the rise of Michael Adams to a rating almost equal to that of Nigel Short, but with Kramnik, Shirov and Kamsky all younger than him, hopes for an English world champion still seem far away.