Edit re close votes for opinion-based:

  1. I edited question from don't/didn't to wouldn't. So now it's hypothetical for any player who happens to to have a peak rating of 2800+.

  2. Voting this to be opinion-based kinda assumes it IS optimal. Explain then why it is optimal please?

Maybe related:

  1. Why is there a minimum rating gain when you win?

  2. Iuri Shkuro is part of the top peak FIDE blitz rating list (2800+) apparently by 'farming'

Seems like the minimum guaranteed gain for any win does make farming profitable.Vladimir F Героям слава

  1. What stops me from pumping up my rating by playing a 200 game match against a much weaker (>400 point difference) player?

  2. Could you raise your score arbitarily high by only playing against much weaker opponents?

Note 1: I think I read but am not sure: FIDE has, or HAD, a rule like even if you're more than 400 points apart from your opponent, the game is treated as if you're just 400 apart. Eg a 2600 who beats a 1600 gains the same rating as beating a 2200. But I heard FIDE made a change to this rule. In any case, I'm gonna ask my question pretending the rule is still in place.

My question is:

In late 2021 / early 2022, Magnus said e had this goal to reach 2900+ peak FIDE rating (either in the monthly lists or live ratings if Magnus didn't already), why doesn't Magnus Carlsen just farm rating points by playing weak tournaments to reach 2900 like what Igors Rausis did?

Now, I saw some posts that say it's optimal but unethical or ridiculous while others that say it's not optimal. Hence, this question boils down to whether or not it is indeed optimal.

Case 1: It is optimal.

  • Here my question becomes: So, why wouldn't Magnus, or any 2800+ player really, do it? I mean, is it because Magnus is afraid that the achievement will not seem 'legitimate'?

  • Note 2: This is kinda arguing ex post facto, but I don't think 'because regular tournaments mean more money for Magnus' is an answer given how Magnus quit the 2023 WCC later in mid-2022.

Case 2: It is not optimal.

  • Here my question becomes: Why is it not optimal?
  • @Herb That's asking if it's optimal or not. I'm asking 'Why if optimal wouldn't anyone do it?'
    – BCLC
    Jan 25, 2023 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


"Farming" was indeed the optimal stratregy to climb the Elo ladder. The reason Carlsen (and most top players) don't use it is simple: gaining rating points is not the ultimate goal of his chess career. The actual goal is winning important tournaments. Rating is the way to get access to those tournaments, but at this point in his career no tournament in the world would deny Carlsen a chance to enter because of his rating being too low.

Since the regulation changes from late 2022 it's no longer possible to just farm weaker opponents. The 400-point gap rule applies now to one game per month rather than to every game played like it used to.

Before the changes, only Carlsen himself knows the reason. However if he reached 2900 by climbing like that, the damage to his reputation would be much bigger than the reward he could get by hitting 2900.

There's also a cost of oppotunity: he would permanently lose the chance to break that record in the proper way. And also winning 50+ classical time control games is a huge time investment that Carlsen could be using for anything else.

  • ok thanks David just 2 things 1 - What makes you say it's optimal, at least under pre-2022 if not now? I've seen posts that argue it's actually not optimal (well at least in classical chess but maybe in rapid chess, blitz chess or classical chess960 it's possible) because of draws like even just 1 draw with an IM sets back Magnus a lot.
    – BCLC
    Jan 25, 2023 at 18:34
  • 1
    @BCLC The thing is, pre-2022 he wouldn't have to play IM's. He could just farm players rated 1200 instead!
    – David
    Jan 26, 2023 at 10:14
  • David oh right lol thanks. ok so why is that improper? it's part of the game.
    – BCLC
    Jan 26, 2023 at 13:22
  • @BCLC Can't you see why reaching 2900 by beating 2700+ opponents will be seen as a more worthy achievement than doing so by beating 10-year-old beginners?
    – David
    Jan 26, 2023 at 14:15
  • David you didn't say worthy you said 'proper'. Ship of Theseus: How many 10yo beginners is Magnus allowed to beat before this becomes not worthy or not proper? There's no asterisk in ratings. A gain is a gain. If I gain rating by doing a quick draw vs a stronger player, there's no asterisk in my rating.
    – BCLC
    Jan 27, 2023 at 16:10

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