Slight of Hand: Blowing Up a Balloon
I have been watching the Live Chess Ratings Site since its inception, when it had that name. It was sold, performs as well or better (it always was great), and now memorably called 2700chess.com. Very simply it tracks the ratings change, progress, and performance of the top chess players.
As is well known, FIDE, the governing body of chess, is responsible for calculating and keeping track of ratings in the larger world of international chess, of course centered in Europe but no longer competitive there only (notably China as a chess super power, India as a chess power, and American always having been strong, now greater in size and strength of players), used to publish its ratings quarterly, then bi-monthly, and now monthly. Soon they will also show blitz, possibly rapid AND blitz.
Observing what I still like to call LiveRatings, you could watch the numbers of players fluctuate between 40 and 45. I cannot be certain, but seem to recall in the last two years--and might be that long, whatever--that there were a few less than 40 and noted the jump over the handle.
In the last few days, the group swelled over the high forties, numbered now at 51. Of course, chess players have gotten really good, but rating inflation exists, and is here to stay.
There has been talk of a title called Super Grandmaster, for players over 2700, as calling a 2720 the same as a 2520 does not reflect the reality of the situation.
Whether Nakamura is as good or better, armed with theory and inexplicably powerful silicon beats unpinning massive and deep chess theory, would give him a better chance to beat Fischer, were he alive today and set to play, this does not concern us. Similarly, Magnus is NOT better than Fischer, who had a lesser rating, nor as dominant as Kasparov was, when he would rampage through chess tournaments, plus 3 or 4 as they say. I love Carlsen, his greatness is beyond question.
But my point, chess ratings are not a zero sum system, but a collectivity of energy, the total energy of which keeps expanding, and reflected in what is described here, and fully reflected also, whereby seems about six years ago, but probably maybe more like eight or nine, Korchnoi was in the top hundred, into his seventy years, slightly above 2600, which he held onto one last time, or was it fell out of, and willfully kannived himself back into by beating many a younger and seemed more energetic younger opponent. Now the top hundred, of the men, bottoms out, at around 2654.