International Chess Federation
Sunday, 03 May 2020 17:20
Rating analytics: Top 10 in the retrospect 2001-2020 Part 2

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 the first part of his historical research, he analyzed at the Top 10 of both Open and Women ratings over the 19-year period. In the second part, he looks at the countries delegating most players into the Top 10 as well as the leaders of the rating over 19 years. 

The number of countries delegating players to the Top 10 Open and Top 10 Women since 2001 is similar – 18 countries and 38 representatives (open) and 17 counties and 43 representatives (women).

Number of players in the Top 10 by country since 2001


Russia  10
Ukraine  3
Azerbaijan  3
China  3
USA  3
India  2
Netherlands  2
France 2
Bulgaria  1
England  1
Hungary  1
Israel  1
Spain  1
Armenia  1
Norway  1
Slovakia  1
Italy  1
Cuba  1


China 12
Russia  8
Georgia  5
Ukraine  3
India  2
USA  2
Hungary  1
Sweden  1
Moldova  1
Bulgaria  1
Romania  1
France  1
Armenia  1
Slovenia  1
Lithuania  1
Germany  1
Kazakhstan  1

As you can see Russia dominates the open section delegating into the Top 10 more than three times as many players as its closest rivals tied for the second place (Ukraine, China, Azerbaijan, and the USA). On the women’s side, the situation is not so lopsided – the first three positions are occupied by China, Russia, and Georgia.

Interestingly enough, the players who represented Cuba and Italy when making it into the Top 10 of the Open rating currently play under the US banner: back in 2012 Fabiano Caruana (Italy) made his debut in the Top 10; in 2014 Leinier Dominguez Perez (Cuba) did the same. Which country will be next on the list? Poland looks like a very strong candidate as Jan-Krzysztof Duda (#16 in the world) is rapidly climbing the ratings ladder.

On the women's side, two countries from the bottom joined the list not long ago. Elizabeth Paehtz broke into the Top 10 two years ago, whereas Dinara Saduakassova joined the elite club this year. The next reasonable country-candidate is Iran with Sarasadat Khademalsharieh being #14 in the Women's rating.

Let’s check out what GMs have appeared in the Top 10 most often since 2001. Naturally, young players have an advantage here because monthly rating lists have been published since June 2012. It makes little sense analyzing calendar periods, because if a player falls out from the Top 10, then gets back, then drops out again and returns, then he or she is not on the list for the entire period. With this in mind, we will focus on the number of times a particular player was in the Top 10 (the players from the current top 10 are marked with an asterisk)


Viswanathan Anand  (IND, 2753)  130
Vladimir Kramnik  (RUS, 2753)  129
Magnus Carlsen  (NOR, 2863)  117*
Levon Aronian  (ARM, 2773)  114*
Fabiano Caruana  (ITA/USA, 2835)  94*
Veselin Topalov  (BUL, 2735)  90
Hikaru Nakamura  (USA, 2736)  79
Alexander  Grischuk  (RUS, 2777)  70*
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov  (AZE, 2764)  64*
Wesley So  (USA, 2770)  57*
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave  (FRA, 2778)  57*
Sergey Karjakin  (RUS, 2752)  57


Humpy Koneru  (IND, 2586)  126*
Yifan Hou  (CHN, 2658)  123*
Anna Muzychuk  (SLO/UKR, 2535)  114*
Kateryna Lagno (UKR/RUS, 2546)  110*
Judit Polgar  (HUN, 2675) 90
Nana Dzagnidze  (GEO, 2524)  90*
Alexandra Kosteniuk    (RUS, 2471)  90
Wenjun Ju    (CHN, 2560)  88*
Viktorija Cmilyte  (LTU, 2538)  68
Mariya Muzychuk  (UKR, 2544)  62*

No less important is how many times in a row a particular player has held his position in the Top 10.


Magnus Carlsen  (NOR, 2863)  117*
Viswanathan Anand  (IND, 2753)  96
Fabiano Caruana  (ITA/USA, 2835)  85*
Vladimir Kramnik  (RUS, 2753)  79
Hikaru Nakamura  (USA, 2736)  68
Levon Aronian  (ARM, 2773)  56*
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave  (FRA, 2778)  52*
Veselin Topalov  (BUL, 2735)  44
Wesley So  (USA, 2770)  38*
Peter Leko  (HUN, 2663)  37


Yifan Hou  (CHN, 2658)  122*
Anna Muzychuk  (SLO/UKR, 2535)  114*
Humpy Koneru  (IND, 2586)  104*
Judit Polgar  (HUN, 2675)  90
Wenjun Ju    (CHN, 2560)  75*
Mariya Muzychuk  (UKR, 2544)  56*
Nana Dzagnidze  (GEO, 2524)  54*
Kateryna Lagno  (UKR/RUS, 2546)  53*
Alexandra Kosteniuk  (RUS, 2471)  48
Viktorija Cmilyte  (LTU, 2538)  40

It is time to say a couple of words about the leaders. Magnus Carlsen has topped the list for ten years. He passed Topalov in January 2010 and never looked back. The only question that matters, how big his margin from the second place has been. It looks highly unlikely that anyone will be able to outperform the current leader in the nearest future. 

Just a quick reminder to younger generations... Between two eras of Kasparov and Carlsen, three players, namely Anand, Topalov, and Kramnik also climbed to the very top.

That makes five people, but in women’s chess situation is quite different as we see only two names at the top spot over the last 20 years. The transition happened in March of 2015 when Judit Polgar (with rating 2675) passed on the baton to Hou Yifan (with rating 2686). Ironically, it has been Hou’s highest career rating so far.

Carlsen became the leader of the open rating aged 19, Hou Yifan did it on the women's side when she was 21.

Who will be next?

Photo: Lennart Ootes