Jan 25, 2010

Hikaru and Magnus: Rivalry in the Making?

You should read Peter Nicholas' article in the LA Times. It raises some interesting thoughts about a developing rivalry between Hikaru and Magnus. Magnus's take on a "rivalry" was essentially that such talk is premature. (He regards his rivals as Anand, Kramnik, and Aronian--fair enough.) The difference between the two is 27 places on the official world rankings list, and that would be enough to ensure that they'll seldom face each other. One must simply be ranked in the top 10 or 15 places to get consistent invitations to super events. But note that while Nakamura is rated 28 on the official list, a quick check of the Top Live List will show him at number 18 and less than 15 Elos from the top 10. Moreover, I'll note that we should all afford Hikaru a period of acclimation. He has much less experience than Carslen on the world stage at this point. Anyone care to bet against him adapting and moving himself into the top 10?  Age wise, Nakamura is a much better-suited rival than those mentioned by Carlsen, including Aronian.  There are others on the rise besides Nakamura and Carlsen (if the World's No. 1 can be said to be rising) of course, but I find few potential rivalries out there to be more appealing.  That's all said, of course, with an American's bias, but I also think that part of the appeal is the prospect of an emerging American superstar, which would be good for chess in general.

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