The [Rating] Battle Rages On

After more than holding his own during the classical portion of the World Championship match against Carlsen, Caruana suffered a beatdown in the rapid tiebreaks.  He lost three in a row, thereby allowing Carlsen to secure the World Champion title yet again.  Going into the match, many people believed that if Caruana was to win the match, he’d have to do it in the classical portion as he’s never been one of the top players in rapid and blitz time controls.  This was proven when Carlsen, one of the best rapid and blitz players in the world, convincingly beat Caruana.

However, other than the title of World Champion, the main focus of the match was on the classical ratings of Carlsen and Caruana.  Prior to the match, only three points separated the two – Carlsen was at 2835.0 and Caruana was 2832.0.  But, after drawing all twelve games of the classical section, neither player’s rating changed.  Caruana had the chance to change that narrative at the London Chess Classic, the tiebreaker tournament for the Grand Chess Tour between Caruana, Nakamura, Aronian, and MVL.  Yet, through his first three classical games – two against Nakamura and one against Aronian – he’s drawn all of them, actually losing 3.3 points according to 2700chess.com.  Meanwhile, he’s continued to struggle in rapid and blitz games, going 0.5/2 in rapid games and 1/4 in blitz games.

More likely than not, Caruana is frustrated with his recent performance in quicker time controls, so we’ll have to see how he fares the rest of this tournament.  He still has two more rapid and four more blitz games to potentially right the ship.  But, Caruana only has one more classical game left in this tournament in Aronian, and even if he wins, he’ll still be a couple points short of Carlsen’s mark.  This means that we’ll have to wait until at least the next major tournament, likely the Tata Steel Masters in late January of 2019, for more action on that rating front.  Until then, Carlsen remains at the top of the rating lists.

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