The dreaded post-Superbowl, pre-March Madness lull in big American arena sports was filled quite nicely by the Winter Olympics this year. We're not so lucky in the chess world, where we're cooling our heels for the Melody Amber tournament on March 13. Last year we had the Topalov-Kamsky match, although that also overlapped with Linares, which was nuts.
At least we have a new rating list, best contextualized here at TWIC. More frequent lists is a very welcome step, but a more dynamic rating formula is also badly needed. Linares wasn't rated this time around. As discussed in the comments the other day, they used to make an exception and rate Linares at the last minute, but it never really made much sense. Of course what would really make sense would be to have at least the top 100+ players' games rated in real time. Of course this is sort of what Hans Arild Runde's Live List has been doing for a while now. Sure, daily rating updates are mostly for the real geeks like us, but that wouldn't be the case if the list were more dynamic and FIDE did a job of promoting rating as a marketing tool.
On the other hand, the importance of rating at the top rose with the confusion of the world championship title. When the title was split and the asterisks were flying, we turned to the relative reliability of the rating list (at least after Kasparov and Short were reinstated). I'm traditionalist enough to wax nostalgic about the importance of the highest title and the status of unofficial titles like world championship challenger and candidate. But I'd also like to see chess move into the modern sports world and the rating system is a great way to do that, both at the top and the bottom.
Anyhoo, as long as we're treading water here, may as well look at the actual list. Carlsen is still #1, Topalov will be in the #2 spot for his match against Anand, who slips a few points behind Kramnik to #4. Leko lost points for the 3rd consecutive list and is now way down at #18. That's a spot below US champion Hikaru Nakamura. Morozevich is still languishing in limbo, down to 2715 from his 2787 a little more than a year ago. It's still a jarring to see just two English and two Dutch players on the top 100 list. Two great chess powers on the ropes. Adams and Short have renewed their battle for UK primacy, but it's taking place well down the list these days. English chess is waiting for Howell. No pressure. Vietnam's Moscow avenger Quang Liem Le shot up over 40 points. Let's hope he gets a few invites to closed events asap. Most importantly, Jan Gustafsson is back on the list.