International Chess Federation
Friday, 20 Mar 2020 19:01
Rating Analytics: The biggest rating gains of 2019

Kaspars Migla is the creator and founder of a chess website In his column, he analyzes FIDE standard rating changes, career-highs, rating distribution by country, continent, region, and other rating-related statistics. In this edition, he looks back at the biggest rating gains in 2019, made by players in various categories. analyzed the biggest FIDE rating gains over the year 2019 and broke them down into different categories. Generally speaking, the higher the rating, the lower the rate of its change. Consequently, the lower the rate of the rating change, the more difficult to improve one’s rating. The more difficult to improve one’s rating the more significant every gain. With this in mind, let's start with GMs.

Evgeny Shtembuliak (UKR) born in 1999 (pictured above) made the biggest progress among grandmasters – over the period from March 2019 (when he was awarded his GM title) to January 2020 he improved his rating by 109 points and reached the 2625 mark. His gain is only 4 points bigger than one by a chess wunderkind from Iran Alireza Firouzja who made a huge jump from 2618 to 2723. Ironically, in 2018, when Alireza had lower rating (consequently, it was easier to earn rating points) his progress was also quite big, but not that impressive – from 2549 to 2618, i.e. 69 points. A young Chilean (born in 1996) Cristobal Henriquez Villagra rounds out the top-3 in this category after hitting the mark 2603 with a 99-point increment.

It is nice to see a lady in the top-20 GMs making the biggest progress – Aleksandra Goryachkina (2578) boosted her rating by 60 points.

Another gifted player from Iran Parham Maghsoodloo made roughly equal increments in 2018 and 2019 and increased his rating by 107 points over a two-year period moving up from 2572 to 2679 mark.

TOP-20 biggest rating gains among GMs:

The biggest gains are registered among IMs, which is hardly surprising given their lower rating comparing to GMs. The top spot in this nomination belongs to Mahfoud Oussedik from Algeria who picked 118 points and for the first in his career broke the 2400 barrier (2423). Jonas Buhl Bjerre from Denmark (born in 2004) really stands out in this list as he made an impressive leap from 2422 to 2535, passing the GM mark (2500).

Jonas Buhl Bjerre

Back in  2018, Wilson Guillermo Palencia Morales was the IM to make the biggest progress after improving his rating by 120 points from 2211 to 2331.

TOP-20 biggest rating gains among IMs:

Let’s talk about seniors. After retiring from competitive chess many of them have more time to spend on the game, which in turn has a beneficial effect on their level of play and rating, especially if it was not particularly high. Two players managed to increase their rating by 300 points and more thanks to a so-called low base effect. The age difference among the players on this list is striking. It is also noticeable that there is not a single player having an international title.

TOP-20 biggest rating gains among seniors (all titles):

Since juniors chess rating is calculated with the greatest coefficient (К=40), in the table below we see the biggest gains among all the players. Usually, Indian players dominate junior rating lists but this particular case the first three positions are occupied by the representatives of other counties. The first place in this list belongs to Reja Neer Manon from Bangladesh (born in 2010), one of the world leaders in the U-10 category. In 2019 his rating rose from 1486 to 2206 (720 points). Reja’s achievement is even more significant given that he had the highest starting rating among all the players on this list.

Reja Neer Manon

The #2 in our top-20 is quite a different story. Matteo Calvigioni from Italy (born in 2001) got his first international rating only in 2018. As of January 01, 2019, it was equal to 1130 points. Starting from this mark Matteo moved only up and by the end of the year he ramped it up to 1821!

Back in 2018, the leader in this nomination Milan Gagic from Serbia (born in 2005) improved his rating by 654 points – from 1335 to 1989.

TOP-20 biggest rating gains among all young players:

Since youngsters took all the positions in this TOP, we analyzed the best achievements of juniors (players born in 1999 and 2000) separately. Predictably, the players with initial low ratings are among the leaders. For example, Dominik Zilkay (SVK) started the year with 1238 points and finished on the 1683 mark.

TOP-20 biggest rating gains among U-20 (1999, 2000):

Probably the broadest and the most diverse category in chess is adults, i.e. players born in 1999 and older. It is hard to find a well-known player in this list with a wide range of age – there is a player, born in 1947 in this top. As we all know, chess unites players of different ages not only over boards but also in rating lists. 

TOP-20 rating gains among adults (born in 1999 and older)

When it comes to female WGM, IM, and GM we see a totally different picture: young players and juniors play second fiddle. Indeed, there is only one (!) U-18 player - WGM Aleksandra Maltsevskaya (RUS)

WGM Katarzyna Toma (ENG) made the biggest progress (108) after increasing her rating from 2173 to 2281. It is worth noting though, that this rating-jump happened after a real slump in October of 2018 when she dropped 114 points in the course of two tournaments. If we present rating progress as a linear chart, that of IM Bhakti Kulkarni stands out from the rest and looks like a wave curve. Back in November 2018, her rating was 2256 but ten months later in August 2019 it reached 2429 points. 

Katarzyna Toma

In 2018 WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova from Uzbekistan topped the list. She made an impressive jump from 2329 to 2446 (117 points) breaking her personal record along the way.

TOP-20 biggest gains among women (GM, IM, WGM):

It comes as no surprise that youngsters are the absolute leaders among all female players when it comes to the biggest rating gains.

TOP-20 biggest gains among all women:

The young generation dominates all regional tops. Out of 80 players you see below only two Venezuelans do not belong to this age group.

TOP-20 biggest gains among all players from Asia:

TOP-20 biggest gains among all players from the Americas:

TOP-20 biggest gains among all players from Europe:

TOP-20 biggest gains among all players from Africa:

Photo: Niklesh Jain and Amruta Mokal ChessBase India; David Llada.