Sport's sacred barriers

1/2/2006 - Most Sports have their magic numbers. For track and field it was the 4-minute mile. Roger Banister broke this threshold in 1954. Since then many world-class milers have broken this threshold.  For baseball, it was the 60-homerun threshold. Babe Ruth broke this threshold back in 1927 when he hit 60 home runs in a 154 game season.  34 years later, in 1961, Roger Maris broke Ruthís record with 61 homers in 162 games. It took another 37 years and the use of steroids to break the 60 home run mark again. In recent times several players have passed the 60-homerun threshold, namely Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. Both McGuire and Bonds broken the 70-homer threshold. However their records have been tainted with the rumor of illegal steroids.

    Chess has its own 60-homer threshold, its called the 2800 rating plateau. In 1972, a peaking Bobby Fischer approached this threshold, when his rating hit 2785. However, Bobby retired from the game after winning the chess world championship in 1972. It took another 20 years for a player to approach the 2800 barrier. Garry Kasparov broke the 2800 barrier in 1990. Garryís rating peaked at 2849. It took another 10 years for another player to surpass the 2800 barrier. The 14th Vladimir Kramnik broke the 2800 barrier when his rating hit 2811 in 2001.

    Then at the FIDE World Championship in 2005, Veselin Topalov broke the barrier while winning the championship.  Topalov won the Triple Crown at San Luis. He won the FIDE Championship, broke the 2800 plateau, and now holds the number one active rating spot in the world. I think itís a foregone conclusion that Topalov will win his first Chess-64 Oscar and an IWK-MVP award. Lets hope that Topalov accepts Vladimir Kramnikís offer for a world championship match. This could significantly add to Topalovís resume by winning the true world championship.

      The latest FIDE rating charts has Topalov, with a 2801 rating, sitting in the number one active rating spot and Vishy Anand sitting in the 2nd spot, just 8 points from the 2800 plateau. Anand has been close to the 2800 plateau quite a few times, but he never has broken it. With Corus coming in January of 2006, Anand seems poised to finally break the 2800 barrier. Historically Anand has done quite well at Corus. In 2004, Anand became on the 4th player in history to win it four times. He joined other 4-time winners Victor Kortchnoi, Lajos Portish, and Max Euwe.  Recently, Anand won it in 2003. and 2004, and finished 2nd in 2005.  Earlier in the year, Anand said he was going to try to break the 2800-plateau. At Corus 2006, the odds are good for Anand to become the 4th player in chess history to surpass this barrier.

 

ChessBase Latest Ratings -
 http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2835

Chess Reporter
Garry Kasparov
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand
Bobby Fischer
Chess and Sports

Babe Ruth Stats -
 http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/ruthba01.shtml
Roger Maris stats -
 http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/marisro01.shtml
Mark McGuire stats -
 http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/mcgwima01.shtml
Sammy Sosa stats -
 http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/sosasa01.shtml
Barry Bonds - Stats -
 http://www.baseball-reference.com/b/bondsba01.shtml
Roger Bannister Bio -
 http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/ban0bio-1
Steroids and Homeruns -
 http://www.elon.edu/e-web/pendulum/Issues/2005/04_14/sports/steroids.xhtml