Mister Liverating

Dass die Eloliste schon veraltet ist, wenn sie erscheint, wissen die meisten. So ist Carlsen offiziell zwar die Nummer sechs aber eigentlich schon die Nummer zwei. Und das nicht vor Morosewitsch oder Kramnik, sondern vor Iwantschuk. Falsch, nach dessen Gewinnpartie in Dortmund gegen Kramnik hat er Carlsen um ein paar Zehntelelo überholt...

Ein Norweger sorgt seit kurzem dafür, dass wir ständig Bescheid wissen, wie es in der Weltrangliste auf den Tag aktuell steht. Ich habe ihm ein paar Fragen gemailt, und weil eh fast alle Englisch verstehen, hier einfach das komplette E-Mail-Interview mit Hans Arild Runde:

Schachblogger: Where are you based?

Hans Arild Runde: I'm based in Oslo, Norway.

Schachblogger: What is your profession and age?

Hans Arild Runde: I have turned 36 during the Norwegian championship last week. I have a master´s degree in computer science. Currently I am working as a Senior Software Engineer for Carlsen's current sponsor - FAST, a Microsoft subsidiary.

Schachblogger: When exactly did you start Liverating?

Hans Arild Runde: In its current form, it was started in late april 2008, but I had been publishing these ratings on the chess website chessgames.com since november 2007. I think the first complete 2700+ list was "released" november 17th 2007.

Schachblogger: Has it always been 2700 plus?

Hans Arild Runde: Basically, yes. Earlier I sometimes used to list the highest rated player below 2700 as well, just to show who was closest, but since I started the new site, I haven't done that.

Schachblogger: I assume Magnus is your motivation, or is it being the first to know when he´s number one?

Hans Arild Runde: Actually Carlsen only plays a very small role. It was mostly triggered by wanting to know the real standings between official lists. Typically people would calculate "updated" ratings for some player, and then claim that he was number so and so, making the mistake of comparing that player to the official rating of the other players. And then some kibitzers on chessgames.com encouraged me to make a list where "everyone" was included, and I chose the cut-off to be 2700+.

Schachblogger: When and where have you met Magnus?

Hans Arild Runde: The Norwegian chess scene is not big, and I live in Oslo, where most of the strong players in Norway are situated. Hence, everyone here has met and seen Carlsen on numerous occasions.
Actually, one of my previous employers, Computas, became Carlsen's first sponsor, and during that short period I was the main contact person between Simen Agdestein (representing Carlsen) and my employer. Carlsen gave a simultaneous exhibition at Computas in 2002 (at the age of 11), and I barely managed to draw him. The Open Norwegian Championship was also arranged in our canteen that year, and young Carlsen won the junior group. And in early 2002 my chess club faced Carlsen's current club in a team match, where I got to play Carlsen with me having the black pieces. I lost my game. Maybe due to the connection between Carlsen and my employer, Agdestein included this game in the Norwegian version of “Wonderboy”. It was not present in the English edition, and probably is not in the German one either.
Carlsen's father Henrik and I are about the same strength as chess players, and since the Computas sponsorship, we have stayed in touch more or less, even competing in some of the same competitions. We have only played each other in blitz games, though. When my current employer signed a sponsor deal with Carlsen last year, Henrik and I started having even more regular contact, but being closer to Henrik than Magnus age-wise, I naturally mostly speak with Henrik when we meet. During the last year, though, I have played Magnus twice in simultan exhibition events at work (I blundered to lose a drawn game in our last encounter), and I obviously exchange a few words with him on such occasions. But while Magnus knows very well who I am, I only consider his father to really be a friend of mine, and that's completely fine, I think. :)

Schachblogger: How much work do you put into the list?

Hans Arild Runde: Simply updating it doesn't take very much time, but I spend quite some time making sure that I don't miss any (or too many) events. Then it obviously takes some time when I add new functionality to the web-site, and I have several ideas ready for implementation - but I just don't have the time (I have work and family at a higher priority!). And lately I have spent some time answering mail, as well - interviews like this one don't exactly "help" on those "statistics". ;)

Schachblogger: How many visitors does the site get and how has it been growing?

Hans Arild Runde: It typically varies a lot with the activity of the top players. During top events like Aerosvit recently, I had around 10 000 hits daily, with 5-7000 unique visitors (based on cookies and unique IPs), and then it might drop to a couple of thousand hits per day during quiet periods. When chessbase.com, chessvibes and chessdom started to link to me, it also generated an increase in the traffic, but "the word" has spread in multiple channels, really. Links are posted in chess forums and on play sites all the time, and people also get to the site from search engines.

Schachblogger: How excited were you when during the Foros tournament a win against Onischuk would have brought Magnus to first place (for a day)?

Hans Arild Runde: This might surprise you, but I don't put much emphasis on day-to-day changes like that, even if I produce day-to-day changes. :) I mainly want to know the exact standings at any given point in time, but if someone is 5 points ahead or behind some other player is actually almost insignificant in the rating system, at least to distinguish their relative strength relationship (for a single game, or even a match, previous record between two players, current form and who's playing white/black is typically more important). Hence, being number one would only be important if it stayed like that until an official list, and so my excitement was very controlled and moderate even faced with a possible number one position in the Live Top List for Carlsen. However, I am continously excited that he is currently in the same ballpark as Anand and Kramnik measured in rating. Just being in that area is incredible for a teenager.
The live list has lead to a cooperation with both www.chessdom.com and www.chessvibes.com so far, and that is something I find very nice. Have you seen my column "Measure Up" at chessdom? I hope to be writing more there in the near future.

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