FIDE has published the March Rating list.
Three men lead the pack, in the super-exclusive elite group "over 2800".
Numero Uno Magnus Carlsen keeps his January rating, after a convincing performance at the Tata Steel, scoring a more than respectable +3. Everyone thinks that the young Norwegian genius will be able to break the mythical 2900 barrier soon, but it could actually be not so easy to achieve.
At the Tata Steel in Wjik aan Zee, we have seen Magnus win 4 games, which is amazing, but also play some rather anonymous games.
He's the hero, and people expect him to always win, play wonderful chess and entertain the audience.
Carlsen does not seem to be overly worried about the pressure that a #1 always feels, but of course he's not a machine, and it may happen
even to him to play a bit below his usual impressive level.
Levon Aronian is living his moment of glory. He's clearly the only one who can meet the strength and continuity that allow Carlsen to rule the chess world.
Levon has shown that it is still possible to gain 15 rating points in a quarter which is, at that level, absolutely amazing.
The 29 year old Armenian won the super tournament in Wijk aan Zee at the beginning of the year, winning 7 games out of 13. He lost to Carlsen and Navara,
but the impressive +5 final score tells the tale.
Vladimir Kramnik, after the colourless performance at the Tal Memorial 2011 - where, despite finishing the tournament unbeaten, he wasn't able to win a game -
has had a great comeback, winning the London Chess Classic with a stunning performance.
Experts say he's changing his way to approach the game, playing bold and aggressive rather than, as he was used to, pragmatic and tenacious. Kramink, asked about his "new" style, skates over, with a laconic answer: "My play always depends on how I'm feeling, and that simply changed when I lost the title. Perhaps I became more indifferent or liberated".
Either way, we can only be delighted to see the 37 year old Russian former World Champion taking on a new lease of his chess life.
After the three musketeers club, short of one point, follows the World Chess Champion Vishy Anand. Anand did not impress in the last two elite events he participated in - Tal Memorial and London Chess Classic - playing like he were hiding his weapons, saving them for the crucial match with Boris Gelfand in May.
Some say Anand is not anymore the unbelievably strong player he was used to be, and that his fantastic chess career is drawing to an inevitable end. We will see.
So, after the three (+1, as in the best Alexandre Dumas' tradition) musketeers, we find Radjabov, American hero Hikaru Nakamura, Italian lad (-der climber) Fabiano Caruana, Karjakin,
the "back in the land of the living" Morozevich and the always amazing Peter Ivanchuk Pan.
On a final note, a thought about how the rating list has changed in the last years.
We have 46 GrandMasters with a rating of 2700 and above, and the #100 in the list has a rating of 2652.
Gone are the days when 2650 meant elite!
We all know it: chess players want to get good results immediately, cutting short the learning process of chess basics and proceeding on to study opening theory.
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