another K at the top

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The Independent Online
The 1996 Fide rating list shows some eager jostling at the top of world chess. After Garry Kasparov's poor result at the recent tournament in Horgen, Switzerland, there had been rumours that he might even lose his top ranking to Karpov. That has not happened, but there has nevertheless been a change at the top with 20-year-old Vladimir Kramnik leaping forward to join Kasparov in the number one spot.

This is the first time for more than 20 years that a name other than Karpov or Kasparov has headed the list. The other historic achievement is Judit Polgar's feat in becoming the first woman in the top ten.

Once again, the top five all bear the "Made in the USSR" label, but there is at last a small sign to a possible end of Soviet-built domination. In the list of highest-rated players under 20, three out of the top four are from Hungary.

Here are the top names and their Elo ratings. All you need remember is that a difference of fewer than 25 points is scarcely worth bothering about, and that a 200-point difference predicts a 75 per cent score for the higher rated player.

1= Kramnik (Russia) 2775

1= Kasparov (Russia) 2775

3 Karpov (Russia) 2770

4= Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 2735

4= Kamsky (US) 2735

6 Anand (India) 2725

7= Topalov (Bulgaria) 2700

7= Gelfand (Belarus) 2700

9 Shirov (Latvia) 2690

10 J Polgar (Hungary) 2675

11= Dreyev (Russia) 2670

11= Salov (Russia) 2670

13= Short (England) 2665

13= Sokolov (Bosnia) 2665

15= Ehlvest (Estonia) 2660

15= Adams (England) 2660

It is good to see Nigel Short climbing back towards a place in the top ten. Other English placings include Miles (2635) in 27th place, Speelman (2625) in 36th and Hodgson (2615) at number 42.

The last three of those are currently in action at Hastings, where the 10-man field for the Centenary Premier tournament includes five English grandmasters (Conquest and Sadler and the other three). The favourite, however, is the Russian Alexander Khalifman, who just squeezes into the top 20 on the new Fide list. Play continues every afternoon at the Cinque Ports Hotel.

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