The July FIDE rating list is out. It seems that the official FIDE site has had an abrupt death, but the list can be found at Chess Daily. The good news is that I'm now officially a FIDE Master! It looks like this was just in time since my FIDE rating continues to drop. I unexpectedly lost 5 points at the US Masters in February. I'm finally starting to grok the twisted logic FIDE uses in its calculations. The official rating list in place at the time that tournament was played was the January 2002 list. On that list my rating was a lofty 2333 (acquired as a result of my performance all the way back in May 2001 at the Chicago Open) so that was the number used in the calculations instead of my April 2002 rating of 2312. Compounding this, my K-factor was still at 25. I've played 30 FIDE rated games, which should lower my K to 15, but the games I played in November that took me up to 30 were not rated until the April list, so if you can follow all this, when the February tournament was played I had only 28 games on the official list, so my K was 25. Additionally, in the US Masters I played some rapidly improving juniors who were calculated with their January ratings (which also probably reflected results from last summer). Whew! Anyway, I dropped to 2307 (they still subtract from the April number!) which puts me at #150 among active US players right behind Todd Rowland who I beat in the US Masters. If I really do understand the system, I think I should stay above 2300 after the Chicago Open. I think I'll finally catch a break from the system as my draw with Keaton Kiewra should not affect my rating since he was still unrated on the April 2002 list.
There was a lot of good news for the US on this list. There are now 9 US players in the top 100! This is second only to Russia's 25. (Shelby Lyman's recent article on the resurgence of Ukranian chess seems ill-timed. Ukraine only has 4 players in the top 100 now which trails Russia, US, Germany, the Netherlands, China, England, and France. His comment about no country having more than 4 players in the top 100 is very odd. I'm not sure what list he was looking at, it seems that Germany has had 6 or 7 for quite some time). Joining the 7 from the previous list (Onischuk, Kaidanov, Shabalov, Seirawan, Goldin, Benjamin, and Novikov, now in that order) are #97 Boris Gulko(2597) and #98 Alex Yeromlinsky (2592). I don't remember how long it has been since Seirawan was the #4 US player. I guess getting the various factions of the chess world to come together has left him little time to work on his game.
There wasn't a whole lot of change at the top. Kasparov(2838) remains a clear #1, while Kramnik(2807) actually played a few rated games in the French league, shedding a couple of points but still clear #2 and the only other player above 2800. Somehow Anand(2755) gained enough from beating Karpov(#16, 2687) in Prague to hold off Adams(2752) for the 3rd spot. Topalov(2745) and Ponomariov(2743) played no games in the period to check in to the 5th and 6th spots. There is another gap between this group and the rest of the top 10 which is rounded out by Bareev, Leko, Morozevich, and Ivanchuk. Gelfand and Grishchuk are also above 2700, but #13 Shirov(2697) has exited Club 2700 after a long stay. The Dortmund tournament to determine Kramnik's challenger has 7 of the top 13 plus the local player Lutz(#31, 2655).
It's always good to see chess get some play in the mainstream media. I noticed several chess references in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (with Shaq on the cover).
First there was a small bit on Russian sensation Alexandra Kosteniuk including a photo. There was the obligatory comparison to Anna Kournikova, except that if Alexandra played tennis she would be a combination of the looks of Kournikova with the ability of Venus Williams.
Next, in discussing the Lewis-Tyson fight, there was the now familiar discussion of Lewis' use of chess during training, including some description of a press conference where he played against some scholastic players. I'm kind of surprised that the "pugilistic specialist" hasn't made it onto the cover of Chess Life yet. Somehow, Dustin Diamond keeps making the cover and by all accounts Lewis is a better chess player and certainly a better boxer. They could also have a cover featuring the other prominent chess-playing heavyweight, Vladimir Klitschko, (see the ChessBase site for more about Klitschko and chess. I guess Kasparov was in the crowd Saturday night, but Trump was the only person I was able to pick out). If they can't get Klitschko and Lewis in the ring together (for a real fight, not just for a movie) maybe they could get them to tangle over the board.
On the flip side of things, there was an full-page add for Skechers, which is apparently some sort of shoe. The chess board had the common mistake of a black square in the right hand corner.