Magnus Carlsen’s Rating and Playing Trends

Photo: Lennart Ootes

Before the World Chess Championship in November 2018, Magnus had a rating of 2835. His opponent, Fabiano Caruana, trailed just three points behind, with a rating of 2832. For months, Magnus was close to losing his number one spot. One bad tournament, or one good result from Caruana, would have been enough for Magnus to lose his world number one ranking.

If you’ve been following Magnus’ journey, you know that his results have been...interesting, to say the least. Today, we wanted to look at those trends more closely and the impact they had on his ratings.

The drawing streak

Although he won the World Chess Championship in November 2018 he drew and drew and drew until he, finally, broke through, crushing Caruana with three wins in the tie breaks.
This trend continued at the 2019 Tata Steel Chess Masters in the Netherlands, with 21 draws in a row! At this point, we weren’t the only ones wondering about his form. In a post-game interview, Magnus himself admitted that these results were bothering him.
“I’m not used to going that long without winning a game and not having too many chances either” he said.

Being the highest rated player in the world means that his rating drops a little for every draw. Just two more draws at the tournament would have resulted in him losing his number one spot - something he’s held for 103 months in a row.

The turning point

FINALLY, the turning point. After 21 draws, Magnus somehow turned it around to break his own record in round five against Jorden van Foreest. From then on, things changed completely, as he continued to win one game after the other. He won four more games in the second half of the tournament and won Tata Steel for the seventh time. This brought his rating back up to 2845 -17 points ahead of his nearest rival, Fabiano Caruana. An impressive accomplishment, considering the fact that back in November they were only three points apart.

Since July 31, 2018, he’s now won forty games without any losses, which is remarkable. We’re curious to see what will happen with his rating in the next couple of months during upcoming tournaments such as Grenke. Will he beat his all time high of 2882 points?

Speaking of, let’s see if you can solve this puzzle!

This is the game that brought Magnus to his record-high rating 2882 back in 2014. Which move by Magnus forced Caruana to resign? It's White to move!

Magnus Carlsen - Fabiano Caruana, Zurich 2014

Magnus--Caruana-2014-1

Inspired? The Magnus Trainer app contains hundreds of premium lessons from Magnus, based on his own games and those of other great chess players throughout history. Download it for free today if you want to learn how to increase your own rating!

The Play Magnus team