During the Sinquefield Cup it was a close call, but Magnus Carlsen starts the month of September with a 12-point lead over Fabiano Caruana in the new chess FIDE rating list. The world champion also tops the lists for rapid and blitz.
Winning as Black was too much to ask, but the fact is that Caruana would have taken over the number one spot in the live ratings had he beaten Carlsen last week. As it went, the Norwegian kept his number one ranking which he has held since 2011.
Still, the gap between the top two players in the world is narrow. Before their match in November in London, Caruana still has quite a few games to play at the Olympiad, while Carlsen has a maximum of seven at the European Club Cup. In any case, there's a good chance that the world championship will see a battle between the world numbers one and two for the first time since Kasparov-Karpov, 1990.
The classical list shows Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's further rise to the top, based on his tournaments in Biel and St. Louis. He won a total of 19.1 points this summer.
There's one more 2800 player: Ding Liren. The Chinese GM, now mostly recovered from his hip fracture, played a four-game match with Veselin Topalov mid-August. He won two games and drew two, to gain 7.2 points.
The biggest margin in the top 10 is the one between number four and five. 24 points below Ding we see a trio of players, all with a 2780 rating: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian and Anish Giri.
Former top 10 regulars Hikaru Nakamura and Sergey Karjakin didn't have a great summer and are now in places 14 and 15, behind e.g. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Yu Yangyi.
Carlsen also tops the rapid and blitz lists. Especially Nakamura is doing clearly better there, compared to classical chess, as he holds the world number two and three positions respectively.
The American GM won 20.4 points in the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz event, where Caruana and Mamedyarov did even better: +50.8 and +40 respectively. Wesley So dropped 43.6 points there. (With a K-factor of 20 instead of 10, the swings are bigger than in classical chess.)
Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez, now living in the U.S., lost points but still holds the world number three position in the rapid.
The biggest change in the blitz ratings is the rise of Vachier-Lagrave to second place, only two points behind Carlsen! The Frenchman won a whopping 58.8 over the 18 blitz games that he played in St. Louis. Caruana also did very well, winning 58.4 points. His good performances in both rapid and blitz cannot hurt his level of confidence for a possible tiebreak in November.
Karjakin's blitz in St. Louis was highly disappointing as he lost 62 points. He's now world number seven in the list, behind blitz specialists Vladislav Artemiev and Nepomniachtchi. Nonetheless, Karjakin is still considered to be one of the favorites for the 2018 Speed Chess Championship. He plays Polish GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda in round one, on September 6.
Hou Yifan's last classical games were played at the Grenke Chess Classic in April. She tops the list for female players with a 97-point lead over her compatriot and reigning women's world champion Ju Wenjun.
It remains to be seen how active Hou will be in the coming months, as she'll be starting her postgraduate study at Oxford university after winning the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships last year.
One player who is not in the list, but will return soon, is Humpy Koneru of India. She'll play both the Olympiad and the women's knockout world championship in November. Her last rating 2557 would make her the world number four.
Noteworthy is IM Elisabeth Paehtz's 6/7 in the Spanish league, with which she gained 13.4 points and entered the world's top 10.