Here Are The Greatest Chess Players Of All Time

Here Are The Greatest Chess Players Of All Time
Cover Image Source: (L) Wiki commons | (C) Getty Images |Dean Mouhtaropoulos | (R) Wikicommons

Top Chess Champions of All Time

Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko
Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko

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There have been many great chess players in the world and the answer to who is the greatest chess player is subjective. There is no denying the fact that some names have time and again shown up in moments of greatness in the world of chess. Some names in today's list of "The Greatest Chess Players of All Time" have contributed to making the game the global phenomenon that it is today. While some are the inspiration for today's great players like Magnus Carlsen who recently bagged the biennial World Cup. Let's begin...

1.  Garry Kasparov

Source: wikicommons
 Garry Kasparov Source: Wiki Commons

Currently the best player in the world, the 13th world champion who held the title from 1985 to 2000. Grandmaster Kasparov has dominated the chess world for over two decades now. In 1985, he defeated Anatoly Karpov to become the youngest world champion at the age of 22. In 2000 his reign was ended by Vladimir Kramnik. However, he continued to play until his retirement in 2005 and is still considered the best. Even after retirement, he has stayed active and has played many exhibition matches over the years.

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2. Magnus Carlsen

 Magnus Carlsen of Norway competes against Daniil Dubov of Russia during the 82nd Tata Steel Chess Tournament | Getty Images |  Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Magnus Carlsen of Norway competes against Daniil Dubov of Russia during the 82nd Tata Steel Chess Tournament | Getty Images | Dean Mouhtaropoulos

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The man who just won the World Cup is of course on the list today. Carlsen has been ranked number 1 since the start of 2011 and is considered to be one of the best chess players of all time. However he argues that he is yet to reach the top spot, he once said, "Kasparov had 20 years uninterrupted as the world number one... He must be considered the best in history. But I feel that time is on my side... I'm not 30 yet. If I were to be considered the best in history at 30, I would have had to start dominating at 10."

3. Bobby Fischer

Source: Wikicommons
Bobby Fischer  Source: Wikicommons

Grandmaster Boddy Fischer is the first American world champion. He is considered to be one of the most famous chess players of all time. He was crowned the world champion in the year 1972 when he defeated Boris Spassky in a match that was called "the match of the century." He was known for his unique style. He was known to attack and show deep and scary positional understanding. The game of the century is still one of the most famous chess games of all time.

4. Jose Raul Capablanca

Source: WikiCommons
Jose Raul Capablanca Source: WikiCommons

Jose Raul Capablanca is considered one of the most talented world champions of all time. He has a tournament record of 40 wins and 23 draws which is a huge achievement. He became the world champion by defeating legendary Emanuel Lasker in 1921. He is known for his endgame and there's a book on him as well "Capablanca's Best Chess Endings" which is considered a classic in today's time. Unfortunately for Casablanca both his peak time fell during the years of World War I and World War II.

5. Mikhail Botvinnik

Source: Wikicommons
Mikhail Botvinnik Source: Wikicommons

Known as the "father of the Soviet chess school," Mikhail Botvinnik was the sixth world champion who reigned from 1948 to 1963  and was a highly regarded player for almost three decades. He was known for his logic and also his flexibility and was amazing when it came to strategic planning. While his reign as world champion was brought to an end by Tigran Petrosian in 1963 he was still pretty much in the top game for another 7 years until his retirement in 1970. He started his classes soon and was the teacher of three future champions, Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik.

6. Anatoly Karpov

Source: Wikicommons
Anatoly Karpov Source: Wikicommons


Grandmaster Antaloly Karpov was the 12th world champion who was active between 1975 to 1985. He became the world champion for the first time by default as Fischer withdrew from their 1975 match as his demands weren't being met. His legendary game is still a huge inspiration for so many aspirational chess players even today. There's a book on his strategies " Karpov's Strategic Wins" written by Tibor Karolyi which is considered one of the finest chess books of all time.

7. Alexander Alekhine 

Source: Wikicommons
Alexander Alekhine  Source: Wikicommons

The brilliant Russian and French player had the special ability for combinational play in extremely complex positions. He became the world champion by defeating Jose Raul Capablanca in 1927. He knew that the rules and principles in the game could be broken in very rare situations and knew how to take advantage of that. Alexander Alekhine was a world champion for a long time. He passed away as a world champion and is the only champion to do so.

8. Viswanathan Anand

Getty Images | Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Viswanathan Anand Getty Images | Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand was an undisputed champion from 2007 to 2013. Born in Tamil Nadu, India, Anand was the youngest of three siblings, He started learning chess at the young age of 6. Anand has defeated Alexei Shirov and won the World Chess Champion five times. National success in his life came early at the age of 14 when he won the Asian Junior Championship in Coimbatore. He is a five-time World Chess Champion.

9. Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian source: Wikicommons

Grandmaster Tigran Petrosian also called "Iron Tigran" was the world champion during 1963-1969 and a four-time Soviet champion. Born to Armenian parents, Petrosian was an excellent student and learned to play chess at a very young age. He was unfortunately orphaned during World War II and used to sweep streets to make ends meet. In an interview with TIME magazine, he recalled, "I started sweeping streets in the middle of the winter and it was horrible. Of course, there were no machines then, so we had to do everything by hand. Some of the older men helped me out. I was a weak boy."

10. Paul Morphy

Source: WikiCommons
Paul Morphy Source: WikiCommons

He is arguably one of the best players of all time. Paul Morphy boasts a 300 ELO point rating. Morphy became one of the best players in the world in a short public career of two years. Morphy is known for his principle which was not that common at the time, "development before attack." He learned chess when he was just 10 and won his first American chess championship tournament in New York City in 1857. Morphy then traveled to Europe where defeated Adolf Anderssen of Germany, the unofficial world champion at the time.


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