When did they get it? - The ten highest-ever rated players

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/1/2020 – The 2700chess.com webpage has been keeping track of top players’ ratings on a daily basis for quite a while now. Besides presenting the highest rated players in classical, rapid and blitz, both in the open and the women’s categories, they have included a list of the highest live ratings ever achieved. Let us recap the top ten of this list, and look at the games which gave each of the players their highest-ever live rating.

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Magnus CarlsenMagnus Carlsen (2889.2)

The world champion achieved his stratospheric highest-ever live rating, a little over ten points short of the 2900 mark, on 21 April 2014, after defeating Hikaru Nakamura from the white side of a Slav Defence at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir. Carlsen would go on to win that event ahead of Fabiano Caruana. [Analysis by GM Alejandro Ramirez].

 

Garry KasparovGarry Kasparov (2856.7)

The frequent discussion regarding who is the greatest player of all time almost always includes Carlsen, Fischer and, of course, Garry Kasparov. After winning the World Championship in 1985, he all but dominated the chess world until his retirement in 2005. He achieved his peak live rating on 3 March 2000, on his way to getting his sixth title in Linares. Fittingly, he achieved his highest-ever rating from the black side of a Najdorf Defence. His opponent was none other than Vishy Anand.

 

Fabiano CaruanaFabiano Caruana (2851.3)

In a memorable 2014 for the latest World Championship challenger, he won in Dortmund, kicked off the Sinquefield Cup with seven straight wins and got tournament victory with an astounding 3080 TPR, and obtained his highest-ever live rating at the Baku stage of the Grand Prix. He got it by beating Peter Svidler’s Gruenfeld Defence in round 6. [Analysis by GM Alejandro Ramirez].

 

Levon AronianLevon Aronian (2835.5)

Much like Carlsen and Caruana, the top Armenian star reached his peak rating in 2014, on 2 February. He did it at the Zurich Chess Challenge, where he beat Hikaru Nakamura’s King’s Indian Defence in round 4. During the six-player single round robin, Aronian had also defeated Vishy Anand in the first round. [Analysis by GM Cristian Chirila].

 

Veselin TopalovVeselin Topalov (2826.5)

One of the most exciting players of our time, Topalov won the FIDE World Championship in 2005 and played in a World Championship match for the last time in 2010, when he lost to Vishy Anand in Sofia. However, he achieved his peak live rating on 24 August 2015, after getting back-to-back victories over Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura at the Sinquefield Cup. [Analysis by GM Alejandro Ramirez].

 

Shakhriyar MamedyarovShakhriyar Mamedyarov (2826.2)

The last player to beat Carlsen in a classical game had a great couple of years in 2017 and 2018, reaching the world number 2 spot in the rankings with a streak of strong performances in elite tournaments. After winning the 2018 Biel Tournament (where he beat the world champion), he obtained his peak live rating on 30 September, with a win over David Navara while representing Azerbaijan at the Olympiad in Batumi. [Analysis by GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly].

 

Wesley SoWesley So (2824.5)

Prior to Mamedyarov, the Filipino-American grandmaster also reached the world number 2 spot by getting impressive tournament victories from August 2016 until April 2017 (Sinquefield Cup, London Chess Classic, Tata Steel Masters and US Championship). His peak live rating was fittingly achieved at the Saint Louis Chess Club, after beating Alexander Onischuk with white on 1 April 2017. [Analysis by GM Elshan Moradiabadi].

 

Vishy AnandViswanathan Anand (2820.7)

The five-time world chess champion, still going strong at 50, is a living (and still active) legend of the royal game. After beating Topalov in the 2010 World Championship match, he achieved his peak live rating on 26 January 2011 in Wijk aan Zee. The five-time winner of the Tata Steel Chess Masters (previously known as Hoogovens and Corus) defeated Alexei Shirov from the white side of a Queen’s Gambit Declined in round 2.

 

Maxime Vachier-LagraveMaxime Vachier-Lagrave (2819.3)

Currently sharing first place in the Candidates Tournament that will resume a month from now, the French star has yet to fight for a World Championship title. On 28 July 2016, ‘MVL’ achieved his highest-ever live rating during a match with Peter Svidler in Biel. Much like Kasparov, he did it by winning with his beloved Sicilian Najdorf! [Analysis by Johannes Fischer].

 

Hikaru NakamuraHikaru Nakamura (2819.0)

The five-time US champion featured three times in this list, as he lost to Carlsen, Aronian and Topalov while they were at the very top of their game. That speaks volumes about Nakamura’s fighting spirit, which took him to make this list. In fact, he reached his peak almost simultaneously with Topalov, on 23 August 2015, a day before the Bulgarian would beat him to achieve his own highest-ever live rating. Nakamura beat Anand from the white side of a Catalan. [Analysis by GM Alejandro Ramirez].

 

How I became World Champion Vol.1 1973-1985

Garry Kasparov's rise to the top was meteoric and at his very first attempt he managed to become World Champion, the youngest of all time. In over six hours of video, he gives a first hand account of crucial events from recent chess history, you can improve your chess understanding and enjoy explanations and comments from a unique and outstanding personality on and off the chess board.





Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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anandymous anandymous 10/4/2020 04:58
I'm most impressed by the fact that Anand (my namesake) peaked at age 41.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/3/2020 11:51
Interesting article, and would also be interesting to see the list repeated with adjusted ratings from chessmetrics, although it hasn't been updated since 2005. Maybe someone else has done it?
Malcom Malcom 10/2/2020 03:31
This is just proof at how much the ratings are inflated now. Nevertheless, a very interesting article.
Keshava Keshava 10/2/2020 01:29
@Rambus, probably none of them seeing as Fischer didn't beat Petrosian or Spaasky 6-0. Engines are more objective than chess fans and their evaluation is that Carlsen is as strong as his rating. Of course I don't doubt that Fischer's rating would have also been above 2800 if he had higher rated opponents to 'feed' him points. I think that the best metric is how a player compared to others in the top ten. Like how many months in the number 1 spot and the rating gap between them and other elite players as Frits Fritschy has mentioned.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/2/2020 12:31
As elo ratings just compare the strengths of players at a certain point in time, it would have been better to list the nr. 1 players with the biggest gap with nr. 2 (and the moment they got there).
makam6 makam6 10/2/2020 11:38
There was a lot of inflation in the ELO rating. I think the ELO rating of Fischer 2780 in 1974 was relatively higher then the rating of Magnus Carlsen (2889.2)
Rambus Rambus 10/2/2020 09:41
I wonder how many of them Bobby would beat 6-0 at classical
saurabh19 saurabh19 10/2/2020 04:06
Nice, I like this one
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