Grand Chess Tour makes new moves

by Johannes Fischer
1/5/2017 – In a recent press release the Grand Chess Tour announced two things: a new rating system, called Universal Rating System, or URS™, that combines the results players have in classical, rapid and blitz chess, and the Wildcard Selections for the five events of the Grand Chess Tour 2017. More...

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What is the Universal Rating System?

According to the Grand Chess Tour press release the URS™ “is a revolutionary new sport’s rating system designed to assess the relative strength of participants across a wide variety of competitor vs competitor sports or games”. As the name indicates, the Universal Rating System expresses the strength of a player in classical, in rapid and in blitz chess with only one rating though results in rapid and blitz chess do not have as much value as results in classical chess.

The first URS™ rating list was published on January 1. Magnus Carlsen leads but he is much more ahead of his rivals than on the Fide list. And  according to the URS™ the world’s number two is not Fabiano Caruana but Vladimir Kramnik - Caruana was relegated to four - while Ian Nepomniachtchi is the world's number five.

URS™ List (Rank 1 to 30)

Rank Player Name URating Rapid Gap Blitz Gap
1 Carlsen, Magnus 2852 19 55
2 Kramnik, Vladimir 2787 31 83
3 Nakamura, Hikaru 2787 19 55
4 Caruana, Fabiano 2779 38 94
5 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2779 18 52
6 Karjakin, Sergey 2778 18 53
7 So, Wesley 2777 30 80
8 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2774 18 53
9 Grischuk, Alexander 2771 20 57
10 Anand, Viswanathan 2771 27 75
11 Aronian, Levon 2771 24 67
12 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2768 23 65
13 Ding, Liren 2763 23 64
14 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2760 22 62
15 Giri, Anish 2757 25 69
16 Yu, Yangyi 2751 24 67
17 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2747 22 63
18 Andreikin, Dmitry 2746 20 56
19 Svidler, Peter 2740 21 61
20 Harikrishna, P. 2736 30 80
21 Gelfand, Boris 2734 22 61
22 Le, Quang Liem 2730 22 63
23 Adams, Michael 2730 29 77
24 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2725 29 79
25 Eljanov, Pavel 2719 38 94
26 Navara, David 2718 21 61
27 Radjabov, Teimour 2718 22 62
28 Mamedov, Rauf 2717 15 45
29 Bu, Xiangzhi 2715 31 82
30 Malakhov, Vladimir 2715 30 80

On the Universal Rating website these numbers are explained further:

"Published URS™ Ratings represent the system's assessment of a player's strength at Classical chess. The URS™ then assumes that the quality and consistency of play will degrade as time controls reduce across the spectrum from Classical to Rapid to Blitz chess. The magnitude of this decline differs from player to player and is displayed as their Rapid and Blitz Gaps.

Rapid Gap = the Universal Rating advantage the player would need for a 50% expected score in rapid (Game in 30 minutes each) against an opponent whose quality and consistency of play do not worsen at quicker time controls.

Blitz Gap = the Universal Rating advantage the player would need for a 50% expected score in blitz (Game in 5 minutes each) against an opponent whose quality and consistency of play do not worsen at quicker time controls."

Magnus Carlsen - New rating system, still the number one

Fabiano Caruana suffered an unexpected loss of 48 rating points

Fide List (Rank 1 to 30)

Rank Name Title Rating Games B-Year
 1  Carlsen, Magnus  g  2840  0  1990
 2  Caruana, Fabiano  g  2827  11  1992
 3  Kramnik, Vladimir  g  2811  9  1975
 4  So, Wesley  g  2808  9  1993
 5  Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime  g  2796  11  1990
 6  Anand, Viswanathan  g  2786  11  1969
 7  Nakamura, Hikaru  g  2785  9  1987
 8  Karjakin, Sergey  g  2785  0  1990
 9  Aronian, Levon  g  2780  9  1982
 10  Giri, Anish  g  2773  9  1994
 11  Nepomniachtchi, Ian  g  2767  0  1990
 12  Harikrishna, P.  g  2766  2  1986
 13  Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar  g  2766  2  1985
 14  Ding, Liren  g  2760  4  1992
 15  Eljanov, Pavel  g  2755  4  1983
 16  Ivanchuk, Vassily  g  2752  2  1969
 17  Adams, Michael  g  2751  11  1971
 18  Wojtaszek, Radoslaw  g  2750  6  1987
 19  Svidler, Peter  g  2748  4  1976
 20  Grischuk, Alexander  g  2742  1  1983
 21  Topalov, Veselin  g  2739  9  1975
 22  Dominguez Perez, Leinier  g  2739  0  1983
 23  Yu, Yangyi  g  2738  13  1994
 24  Andreikin, Dmitry  g  2736  4  1990
 25  Navara, David  g  2735  4  1985
 26  Vitiugov, Nikita  g  2724  2  1987
 27  Inarkiev, Ernesto  g  2723  6  1985
 28  Gelfand, Boris  g  2721  4  1968
 29  Li, Chao b  g  2720  0  1989
 30  Le, Quang Liem  g  2718  0  1991

The Grand Chess Tour 2017

Who will be invited?

The Grand Chess Tour is a prestigious and very lucrative event. In 2017 five events are scheduled, with a total prize fund of $1,200,000.

Six players had already qualified for the 2017 GCT Tour:

Wesley So (USA) – Winner, 2016 GCT
Fabiano Caruana, (USA) – Runner-Up, 2016 GCT
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) – 3rd place, 2016 GCT
Magnus Carlsen (NOR) – 1st slot, 2016 Average Rating
Vladimir Kramnik (RUS) – 2nd slot, 2016 Average Rating
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) – 3rd slot, 2016 Average Rating

Now, three more players have been offered wildcards:

Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)
Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
Viswanathan Anand (IND)

The press release explains this choice:

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi earns his place due to his consistency across all time formats which sees him placed 5th on the URS™ rating list as at 1 January 2017. This earned him selection as the highest ranked player on the URS™ not already picked.

GM Sergei Karjakin was then selected as the second highest ranked player on the URS™ not already picked after a year that saw him compete in the 2016 World Championship match and secure the title of World Blitz Champion.

The final wildcard has been awarded to former World Champion Viswanathan Anand who is ranked 10th on the URS™ rating list as at 1 January 2017. He also tied for 4th place in the 2016 GCT tour despite only competing in three of the four events in 2016.”

Levon Aronian is the first alternate.

Moreover, wildcards will also be given in the five events:

“There will be fourteen event wildcards in the 2017 Grand Chess Tour with four in each Blitz & Rapid and one each in the Sinquefield Cup and London Chess Classic. The recipients will be announced in due course.“

Grand Chess Tour schedule 2017

About the URS™

About the Grand Chess Tour

Press release…



Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".

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