Saturday, September 19, 2009 3:21 AM
The World Chess Federation rating list for September reveals that the highestranked Russian grandmaster is Vladimir Kramnik at No. 5.
Today’s dominant players are Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Viswanathan Anand of India and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who are ranked first, second and fourth in the world, respectively – a far cry from the days when Russians dominated most of the top positions.
The collapse of Soviet communism has profoundly affected the place of chess in Russian society.
Russia has a plethora of talented grandmasters – more by far than any other country.
But without state support or an equivalent, they don’t have the training or material wherewithal to make their traditional runs on the world title.
In addition, the globalization of chess outside of the former Soviet Union, in which the Internet plays a central role, has created and enhanced other epicenters of chess talent.
For the first time, Anatoly Karpov – the 58-year-old former world champion from Russia – is no longer rated among the top 100 players in the world.
His decline attests to how hard it is to stay even modestly close to the top in today’s fiercely competitive chess milieu.
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– GM Susan Polgar