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Gata Leads August Charts Print E-mail
By Greg Shahade   
August 10, 2007

by Greg Shahade

Ed. Note- this list was published a month late, in order to include results from the U.S. Women's and U.S. Open. However, the new rating list (August) is now out. In the future, CLO will rarely delay this feature. Expect the August junior rating update in the next couple weeks.

 Starting with this list, I am going to note the all time high ratings of everyone from the top ten. Some of the ratings really stand out, with Kamsky once getting to 2797 many years ago, before his hiatus from active chess. A topic for debate in the comments section is whether anyone will break the 2800 USCF barrier in the next 10 years, and if so who will it be? To be put it in simpler terms, who has the better chance, Kamsky or Nakamura?

My answer would be no, that no player will break 2800 in the next ten years, even though Kamsky was only 3 points away a long time ago and Nakamura was off by just 26. Two very good tournaments
would have probably been enough for Nakamura to make it and of course Kamsky needed a lot less. Note that foreign players who play only
a few games per year in the USA don't count for this debate. For instance, GM Ilya Smirin, who played a fairly decent amount, was rated over 2800 for a period of a few events, maintaining his rating through 3 World Open's and 2 Foxwoods Opens. His peak topped out at 2816. If he lived in the USA and played even more events on a regular basis, with his opponents being more familiar with his style, it may have been tougher to achieve this kind of domination.

Anyway let's get on to the list!

1.2. Gata Kamsky – 2752 (Last Ranking: 2nd; Gained 5 points, Peak Rating: 2797), pictured above

Gata has played just one American tournament in the last rating list, and in typical fashion, he scored 7/9 to tie for first at the Foxwoods Open. His most serious chess action was the FIDE Candidates matches, in which he had an impressive showing against GM Etienne Bacrot in the first round, before losing a tight match to GM
Boris Gelfand in the second round. It was another solid performance from Kamsky, who is showing time and time again that he is still on par with the world's elite.

What I find most interesting about Kamsky is that his style of play is very unintimidating. He plays very solidly and is so humble that its sort of hard to believe he's as good as he is. He is almost never playing wild and amazing tactical variations, instead playing mostly strategic setups. Anyway whether his moves strike fear into his opponent's hearts or not, he finds a way to win anyway, and has retaken his claim on the #1 spot in the nation.

2. Hikaru Nakamura – 2738 (Last Ranking: 1st, Lost 18 points, Peak Rating: 2774)

Hikaru has had an up and down past few months. He had a below average showing at the US Championship, but followed it up with an inspiring victory at the National Open, taking clear first place with 5.5/6. In the World Open he was able to tie for first place, but fans were disappointed to see him take a last round draw with the white pieces in just 19 moves. He gained another few points in the St. John's Masters at the Marshall. He also swept the 2nd Annual Nakamura Open in Richardson, Texas. These small gains were canceled out by an eight point loss in the U.S. Open, where he drew with Michael Rohde in the last round, losing out on his chance to join the big tie for first place.

3. Alex Onischuk – 2712 (Last Ranking: 3rd, No Rating Change, Peak Rating 2749)

Alex's only tournament since the last rating list was the 2007 US Championship, in which he turned out a fine performance and is due about 16 rating points. The only reason he didn't win his second consecutive title was because Alexander Shabalov was clicking on all cylinders. In any case a title in 2006 and a clear second place in
2007 is very impressive indeed.

Alex is also coming off a fantastic result at the Aerosvit Foros Super GM Tournament in Ukraine, scoring 6/11 and tying for third place with international chess superstars GM Peter Svidler, GM Alexei Shirov and GM Loek Van Wely. In Biel, Alex did even better, winning three nice games with White and tying for first with Magnus Carlsen on plus three. Unfortunately, he lost out on the title on tiebreak.

4. Gregory Kaidanov –2685 (Last Ranking: 4th, Lost 1 rating point, Peak Rating: 2749 )

Gregory played in his first USCF tournament in 9 months and it was a successful one, as he scored 6/9 in the US Championship, tying for 3rd place and picking up 8 rating points in the process. These points will be tallied in the next rating list, and will make it more difficult for the GM's breathing down his neck to overtake him in 4th.
5. Jaan Ehlvest – 2683(Last Ranking: 6th, Gained 8 rating points, Peak Rating: 2740)

Jan is a chessplaying machine, competing in multiple tournaments every week. He seems to be playing very consistently these days, as his rating is staying at the 2680-2699 level. He hasn't been winning the major events lately, but if he continues to perform at such a high level, it's only a matter of time till he wins a few of them. Ehlvest and Ibragimov are neck and neck on the rating lists, although it couldn't have helped Jan's cause that Ibragimov defeated him in Foxwoods. Ehlvest still had a chance to tie for first place, but was unable to defeat Ivanov in the final round.

6. Ildar Ibragimov –2680 (Last Ranking: 5th, Gained 5 rating points, Peak Rating: 2708)

Ildar gained a few points from tying for first at the Foxwoods Open and is due to lose a few points from his performances at the World Open and US Championship.

7. GM Alexander Shabalov - 2671 (Last Ranking: 10th, Gained 15 rating points, Peak Rating: 2729)

Shabalov surprised everyone by winning clear first place in the 2007 US Championship, winning his first 5 games en route to a 7/9 score. His rating after the event was an amazing 2701, but as usual Alex didn't sit on his laurels and his rating has since reverted to the 2670 level. Tying for first in the U.S. Open only gained him 2 rating points.

8. Larry Christiansen –2669 (Last Ranking: 7th, Lost 1 rating point, Peak Rating: 2685)

Larry hasn't played since the Amateur Team East in February.

9. GM Alexander Stripunsky- 2669 (Last Ranking: NA, Gained 31 rating points, Peak Rating: 2669)
Alex is on a roll, gaining points left and right and making a serious push for 2700+. He hasn't been on the top ten list in a while, but is gaining points at an alarming rate, with another 20 or so coming after his first place tie in the World Open. Congrats to Alex for
achieving his peak rating, and for almost certainly improving on his peak even more when the next supplement comes out.

10. Yury Shulman – 2667 (Last Ranking: 8th, Gained 5 rating points, Peak Rating: 2668)

Poor Yury, he gains 5 rating points but drops two spots in the standings, due to the hot play of Shabalov and Stripunsky. Yury tied for first place in the Chicago Open and tied for third place in the US Championship, to get his rating up to 2695 unofficially,
but he then turned around and bombed at the World Open, to bring it back down to the 2675 range. Despite that, we are almost certain to see improvements on Yury's peak rating, as if he didn't play until the next supplement he would already surpass it.

Others to Watch:

GM Varuzhan Akobian - 2651 (Lost 1 rating point)

I mention Akobian because he tied for first in the World Open and then won the blitz tiebreak. His rating could be through the roof right now, if not for a disastrous Chicago Open, in which he scored 2/4 before withdrawing. He had a great World Open, defeating the red hot Alex Stripunsky, while also downing the young English GM David Howell and GM Sharavdorj, while not losing a single game throughout the event.

Top 5 Women:

Usually, there is a regrettable lack of action on the women's section of my rating update, but there have been a lot of interesting movements here lately, including the ascent over 2500 by Irina Krush. We also have two rapidly improving 16-year-olds, Abby Marshall and Alisa Melekhina.

1. Susan Polgar –2597 (Last Ranking: 1st, No rating change, Peak Rating: 2597)

Susan hasn't played in the US about a year.

2.Anna Zatonskih – 2491(Last Ranking: 2nd, No rating change, Peak Rating: 2499)

Anna hadn't played since Dec 2006, most likely due to her pregnancy but she accepted the invitation to defend her U.S. Women's title. Then she took a shot at the Thursday Night Championship,
the big prize money action championship held every year around the World Open. She had a solid performance, losing only to GM Ehlvest,
while defeating IM Jay Bonin and two experts, good for 6 rating points. She tied for second place in the U.S. Women's Championship but because she (along with Irina Krush) outranked most of the field by 200 points, 6.5/9 lost her a handful of points.

3.Irina Krush – 2488 (Last Ranking: 3rd, Gained 8 points, Peak Rating: 2488)

Irina's rating has just been going up and up lately. She just won her second U.S. Women's title with 7/9 (this actually cost her one rating point, but I'm sure Irina is not complaining.) and is currently at her peak rating. She has more points on the way due to
great performances at the National Open and of course Stillwater, Oklahoma. At the National Open she scored 4.5/6, with a win over US Champion Alex Shabalov, a draw against
Bulgarian GM Atanas Kolev, and wins over 3 master level players. Her only loss was to Israeli GM Sergey Erenburg.

After this result she is unofficially rated at 2512, and is probably set to be the only woman aside from Susan Polgar to surpass
the 2500 barrier in the last decade. Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya was 2516 in 1995. The only mark on Irina Krush's stellar record recently is the Monroi International Women's Grand Prix, where Irina scored a disappointing minus two.

4.Rusudan Goletiani –2392 (Last Ranking: 4th, No rating change, Peak Rating: 2412)

Rusa hasn't played in the USA since February and declined her invitation to the 2007 U.S. Women's Championship. On Monday, August 6, Rusadan had a baby girl, Sophie. Congratulations to her!

5. Camilla Baginskaite - 2361 (Last Ranking: 5th, No rating change, Peak Rating: 2468)
2361 (Gained 12 points)

Camilla scored 4/9 in the U.S. Women's and lost almost 20 USCF points.

Others to watch:

WGM Katerina Rohonyan- Rohonyan had an excellent U.S. Women's Championship, leading or tied for the lead for most of the event. She picked up almost 30 points there, and is now solidly over 2300.

WIM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs - 2275 (Gained 16 points)
Chimi had a strong World Open, gaining about 20 points with wins over IM Amon Simutowe, IM Jay Bonin and draws against GM Melikset Khachiyan and GM Magesh Panchanathan. Chimi finished clear fourth in the U.S. Women's, pushing her even closer to 2300.

Alisa Melekhina-

As one of the lowest rated players going into the U.S. Women's at 2189, Alisa's 4/9 was enough to propel her to 2200 exactly. Alisa is due to gain more points and solidify her master rating from the Cherry Hill U.S. Open, where she defeated higher rated players Braden Bournival and Thomas Bartell, picking up 26 points on the way.

Abby Marshall-

16-year-old Abby Marshall had a breakthrough tournament at the Cherry Hill U.S. Open, defeating three masters in the final three rounds and gaining almost 60 points. You can read her popular blog from the event here.