Born: November 30, 1990
FIDE rating May 2013: 2868
World ranking: 1
Since 2010, Magnus Carlsen has dominated the chess world by winning almost every tournament he has taken part in. Still only 22 years old, the world’s number one has already won 15 super-tournaments and has broken Garry Kasparov’s legendary all-time high rating record of 2851. Now that he tops the world rankings 55 rating points ahead of number two, chess fans wonder where all this will end. It’s been 2½ years since he had a bad tournament result.
Magnus Carlsen’s most recent success was his win at the London Candidates’ tournament, where after a breath-taking finale he finished ahead of Vladimir Kramnik on tie-break. With this victory he earned the right to challenge World Champion Vishy Anand in November of this year.
With his top rating and recent successes, Magnus Carlsen is the clear favourite in this event. But with every tournament, the pressure increases and the big question is: can he handle the pressure in the first classical super-tournament in his home country?
Born: October 6, 1982
FIDE Rating May 2013: 2813
World Ranking: 2
World number two Levon Aronian is considered one of Magnus Carlsen’s toughest competitors. The two have clashed in more than 50 games since they first met in the first round of the FIDE World Championship in Libya in 2004. At the time, Aronian was victorious in the play-off, but later he has had to suffer on several occasions. At the Candidates’ Tournament in London, Aronian had an impressive start, but a set-back in the second half threw him out of contention for first place and in the end he finished half a point behind Carlsen and Kramnik. Aronian is a major celebrity in his chess-loving home country. He is one of only six players that have managed to pass the 2800 barrier.
Aronian arrives at the Norway Chess tournament almost straight from St. Petersburg, where he won the Alekhine Memorial, edging out Boris Gelfand thanks to a better tie-break.
Born: March 15, 1975
FIDE rating May 2013: 2793
World Ranking: 4
For two decades already, Veselin Topalov has been one of the best players in the world. His major accomplishment was his win at the 2005 World Championship in San Luis, Argentina. Scoring an incredible 6½ from 7 in the first half, he had already pretty much clinched the title.
Topalov dominated the chess scene for a few years as the world’s number one, but had to give up the world title when he lost to Kramnik in Elista in 2006.
Following a narrow defeat against Vishy Anand in the 2010 World Championship match in Sofia, Bulgaria, Topalov chose to be less active for a while and temporarily dropped out of the Top 10.
At the FIDE Grand Prix tournament in London last year he showed that he’s still capable of delivering top performances when he finished shared first with Gelfand and Mamedyarov. One week before the start of Norway Chess 2013, Topalov did even better when he claimed the Grand Prix tournament in Zug, Switzerland, one and a half points ahead of runner-up Nakamura.
Currently Topalov is leading the overall GP standings and in the meantime he has moved up to fourth place in the world rankings again.
Born: December 11, 1969
FIDE rating May 2013: 2783
World Ranking: 5
Vishy Anand has been one of the world’s best players for two decades, since he qualified for the Candidates’ matches and later got to challenge Garry Kasparov for the PCA World Championship in 1995. He lost that match and it was not until 2000 that he became World Champion for the first time. Since 2007, he has been the reigning World Champion, a title he has won twice and defended three times: Against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, Veselin Topalov in 2010 and Boris Gelfand in 2012.
Anand has won practically all the major tournaments in the world at least once and there are very few players in history that can show a comparable tournament record. In the last years he often struggled with his form, but earlier this year in Wijk aan Zee and in Baden-Baden, where he won, he showed a return to good form.
His encounter with Magnus Carlsen here, an appetizer for their World Championship match in November, will be one of the highlights of the Norway Chess 2013 tournament.
Born: December 9, 1987
FIDE rating May 2013: 2775
World Ranking: 7
25-year-old Hikaru Nakamura was born in Japan, but moved to the U.S as a two-year-old. At the age of 15 years and 79 days, he made history by breaking Bobby Fischer’s record as the youngest American grandmaster ever.
The American used to be known as maybe the strongest online blitz player in the world. As “Smallville”, he set several rating records on the Internet Chess Club. These days he rarely plays blitz anymore and dedicates himself entirely to classical chess.
His greatest triumph in a super-tournament he achieved in Wijk aan Zee in 2011, where he won ahead of a field that included Anand, Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik. At the time he was being trained by Garry Kasparov.
Nakamura, who won the American Championship for the first time in 2005, is also the reigning American champion. Known as an aggressive player, who is always willing to take risks in order to win, Nakamura is popular with tournament organizers all over the world. He has visited Norway on three occasions in recent years, taking part in rapid and blitz events. Less than a week before he travelled to Norway Chess 2013, he finished in second place behind Veselin Topalov at the FIDE Grand Prix in Zug, Switzerland.
Born: June 17, 1976
FIDE rating May 2013: 2769
World Ranking: 9
Peter Svidler, the 36-year-old grandmaster from St. Petersburg, has won six Russian Championships, a FIDE World Cup and five Olympiad Gold Medals, to name just a selection of his triumphs. Svidler returns to Norway, where he took part in a rapid event with Magnus Carlsen in Longyearbyen in 2006.
Svidler showed some excellent results the past year, breaking into the Top 10 for the first time since 2010. An excellent performance at the Candidates’ tournament in London, where he beat Magnus Carlsen in the last round and finished only half a point behind the Norwegian, was followed by a good result at the Russian Club Team Championships in April, where his team from St.Petersburg claimed the title.
Despite a lesser result at the recent Alekhine Memorial, Svidler seems to be in good shape, and it will certainly be a tough task for Magnus Carlsen to level his negative score against the friendly Russian.
Born: January 12, 1990
FIDE rating May 2013: 2767
World Ranking: 10
Ukrainian Sergey Karjakin, who now lives in Moscow and represents Russia, still holds the reocrd of the youngest grandmaster of all time. He earned the title at the age of just 12 years and seven months, that is six months younger than Magnus Carlsen when he got his title.
Karjakin’s first major tournament win came in 2009, when he took first prize in Wijk aan Zee. In July 2011, he managed to get into the world’s Top 5 list for the first time. In 2012 Karjakin became World Rapid Chess Champion, a full point ahead of Norway’s own Magnus Carlsen.
Born: March 12, 1987
FIDE rating May 2013: 2745
World Ranking: 14
25-year-old Teimour Radjabov hails from the strong chess nation of Azerbaijan and was one of the world’s youngest Grandmasters ever. His international breakthrough came when as a 15-year-old he defeated none other than Garry Kasparov in the famous Linares tournament in Spain. Later Radjabov made small but steady steps towards the absolute world top. His first triumph in a major tournament came in 2007 when he split first place in the Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee together with Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian. Radjabov has been a regular member of the world’s Top-10 for quite some time now, but it was only recently that he managed to climb into the Top 5.
A poor performance at the Candidates’ tournament and a further disappointment at the recent Grand Prix in Zug cost him precious Elo points. At the Norway Chess 2013 Tournament he will be eager to regain lost ground and fight his way back into the Top-10.
Born: August 4, 1989
FIDE rating May 2013: 2743
World Ranking: 16
Wang Hao earned his grandmaster title at the age of 16. Since that early milestone he has climbed up in the world rankings by winning several strong open tournaments around the world. A member of an increasing group of promising and strong Chinese players, Wang Hao is currently the leader of his generation and the highest rated player in this country.
Wang Hao won his first Chinese Championship in 2010, but the biggest triumph of his career so far he had in Biel last summer, where he placed first, ahead of Magnus Carlsen.
Jon Ludvig Hammer
Born: June 2, 1990
FIDE Rating May 2013: 2608
World Ranking: 197
Although he stands in the shadow of a certain world star, Jon Ludvig Hammer is considered to be one of Norway’s greatest chess talents ever. After achieving the GM title in 2009, the student of journalism has had several strong tournament results. His best achievement was perhaps the silver medal on first board for Norway in the European Team Championship in 2009. In the 2010 Arctic Securities Chess Stars, a rapid tournament, he managed to win a game against Magnus Carlsen for the first time in ten years. In 2012, at the European Club Cup, Jon Ludvig also defeated none other than Vassily Ivanchuk. As he is by far the lowest rated player in this select company, Norway Chess 2013 is Jon Ludvig’s toughest challenge to date.