World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen has now been the world no. 1 on every rating list for the past decade since July 2011, an unbeaten streak that will now eclipse Garry Kasparov’s two decade-long streaks as world no. 1 from 1986 to 1996 and 1996 until he dropped off the list after his retirement in 2005. Although Magnus has suffered scares — for instance any loss to Fabiano Caruana in the 2018 World Championship match would have taken Fabi top — he’s remarkably been unbroken world no. 1 for a decade on the live rating list as well.
When Magnus was recently asked about crossing 10 years as the consecutive world no. 1, he was actually surprised.
From the time Magnus topped the official January 2010 FIDE rating list there were two periods when 15th World Champion Vishy Anand regained the top spot, with the last list with Vishy top coming in May 2011.
At 132 months as world no. 1, Magnus has surpassed Anatoly Karpov’s 102 months as world no. 1, but he still has almost exactly a decade to go to match Garry Kasparov’s 255 months — 21 years and 3 months! Will Magnus spend another decade as no. 1? “Unlikely, but we’ll see”, he says in the video above, but when it comes to unbroken streaks as world no. 1 he can claim already to have surpassed Garry.
Anatoly Karpov spent 8 years as unbroken world no. 1 from 1976-1983, but Garry first at least matched that in a streak stretching from 1986-1993. Officially the streak ended there, but only because FIDE removed Kasparov and Nigel Short from their rating lists in 1994 after they broke away from FIDE to play their 1993 World Championship match. Garry was still effectively the no. 1 until January 1996, a full decade, when the 20-year-old Vladimir Kramnik matched Garry’s 2775 rating but took the number 1 spot on the tiebreak of having played more games.
That meant a new streak began when Garry was no. 1 again on the July 1996 rating list, this time lasting until March 2006 (he only dropped off the rating list a year after his retirement in March 2005) — he no longer featured on the April 2006 rating list. That made it an official streak of 9 years and 9 months.
Magnus, who on the July 2021 rating list has a 2847 rating and leads no. 2 Fabiano Caruana by 41 points, is now stretching his streak beyond a decade, with no immediate end in sight. When asked what now, he responded:
“I don’t have any particular plans, but I’m at least happy that the gap is pretty wide again now after Caruana lost a few points in Romania, so for the moment it’s not a big concern.”
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