11 Best Chess Players in the World (Editors Choice)

Who is the best chess player in the world

Ask any chess lover this question and you will get a very strong response with various reasons why. Everyone has their preference for the greatest chess player of all time.

Who is the greatest chess player of all time?

Coming up with the best player is a very controversial topic. It is difficult for everyone to agree on the same player. I will stay away from controversy and share a list of 11 players that I consider are the best chess players. The list of these chess players is developed by me and is a personal choice. I relied on a useful website called Chessmetris.

You are free to discuss the players I have on my list. But remember, this is a personal choice. But I am willing to bet that the list will contain your best chess player too. If not, let me know in the comments section and I will consider including them in my list when I next update the list. 

1. Garry Kasparov

I do not think anyone can deny this man to be amongst the best chess players in the world. The stats prove that he is probably the best of all time. Probably the greatest chess player ever.

Garry Kasparov was the world champion from 1985 to 2000.

You can check out the video below that includes the 4 greatest moments in the Grandmaster’s career. One of the key mistakes that he made against Vishwanathan Anand is highlighted. Another key mistake that he made against Deep Blue is also mentioned. Watch the video and figure out the other 2 key moments. 

Watch Garry Kasparov replay his 4 famous moves!

2. Anatoly Karpov

A bitter rival of Garry Kasparov, Karpov was the world champion from 1975 to 1985.  He was also the FIDE champion from 1993 to 1999.

Karpov is known for his playing style of taking no risks but punishing the opponents’ tiny mistakes.

Karpov started playing chess when he was 4 years old and retired at the age of 62. Below is a video that shows some facts about Anatoly Karpov.

3. Jose Raul Capablanca

Born in 1888, Jose is also considered one of the greatest chess players, if not the greatest. Given the era he played in, not many may be familiar with him. But if you are an ardent chess lover, you will surely know him.

He was the world champion from 1921 to 1927. He was nicknamed the ‘Human Chess Machine’. He was known for his strategic endgames and positional plays. He excelled at schematic thinking.

Jose wrote many chess books, including Chess Fundamentals, which is considered to be one of the best books. 

4. Vishwanathan Anand

A chess player from India, where chess was meant to be a good past-time for many. Vishwanathan Anand brought the game to millions of otherwise cricket-crazy fans. 

5. Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer was born on March 9, 1943, in the United States of America, Chicago Illinois. He developed a keen interest in the game at age six. At the age of 16, he dropped out of school so that he could concentrate fully on the game. Although he grew up without a father, he had a strained link with the mother, Regina Wender Fischer. He attained several achievements in the chess game before eventually dying in January 2008.

In 1956, he played Donald Byrne and won the game of the century which gave him international attention. Two years later, in 1958 he climbed the ladder, broke Boris Spassky’s record to become the grandmaster level. Still, in the same year, he won one of the eight American chess championships.

In 1966, he participated in the California super tournament where he became second after Boris Spassky. In 1971 the chess genius successfully played and won 20 consecutive games, which was the second longest uninterrupted win in chess history.

In 1972 he played against his fierce opponent Boris Spassky, and the rematch in 1992 before becoming the world chess champion.

However, his bad relationship with the US government made him flee from the country before succumbing to kidney failure on Jan 17, 200

6. Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian, was born by two engineers; Sigrun Øen and Henrik Albert Carlsen. He was born on 30th Nov 1990 in Norway. Right as a toddler, the boy displayed high intellectual abilities. After his father had introduced him to the chess game, he lost himself in it.

At age eight, he played his first Norwegian chess championship. In 2002, he emerged second in the FIDE world youth chess championship, under 12 division which was held in Greece.

He first came to international fame by winning the Corus chess tournament in group C held in Wijk aan Zee. That branded him the name the “Mozart of chess”

In 2004, Carlsen played and won against Anatoly Karpov but drew against the then top-rated international player Garry Kasparov. In April 2004 he became the then youngest grandmaster

In 2009 Carlsen won the Oscars chess best player and maintained the title up to 2013.

In 2009 became the world’s blitz champion and in 2010 the FIDE crowned him as a top player. In 2013 following his victory over Viswanathan Anand in India, he became the second youngest world champion then. He successfully defended the title in 2014 by beating Anand.

7. Mikhail Tal

Raised from a Jewish Family, Mikhail Tal was born on November 9th, 1936. He showed interest in chess at the age of eight. The Latvian player born in Riga learned more about chess from Alexander Koblencs. He fought serious health complications during his youth. The chess star married thrice and eventually succumbed to the hemorrhage in the esophagus on June 28th, 1992.

Mikhail had outstanding attacking skills in the game. He earned his first Latvian title in 1953 which saw him bear the title candidate master. In 1957 he won the USSR chess championship

Having defeated many soviet international chess players, FDE decided to award him the grandmaster title.

Following his defeat of senior Mikhail Botvinnik in the 1960 Moscow’s World Championship, he emerged a world champion

Between July 1972 and April 1973, he played 86 straight games and never lost in any of them. Again between October 1973 and October 1974, he played 94 straight games without losing a game.

8. Alexander Alekhine

In addition to his fame as a French chess player, he also authored at least 20 chess books. Born on October 31, 1892, in Russia Alexander generally employed an imaginative attacking style in the chess game. He started playing chess at a tender age with the help of his mother. The Champion though married four times before his death at the age of 53.

He began his carrier by playing for the Moscow chess club’s spring tournament in 1907 and emerged the winner in 1908

Since then he started participating in the international tournament, which saw him tie for first place with Aron Nimzowitsch.

In 1924 he set a new record in the blindfold game by playing against 26 players which he later broke again the following year

In 1927 Alexander he won the world championship game, held at Aron Nimzowitsch

His victory over Bogolijubow saw him get the title of Russian grandmaster in 1929. Four years later he participated in the blindfold game against 32 opponents and won 17 matches.

Having lost the world championship match to Max Euwe in 1933, he regained the title in a rematch in 1937.

His involvement in the 8th Chess Olympiad which was held in Buenos Aires saw him scoop 9 silver medals.

9. Emmanuel Lasker

He was born in Germany on 24th December 1868. Right from childhood, it was clear that he was talented in mathematics and chess. So in 1889, he won the German master title. Emmanuel was well known to study his opponents and learn about their weaknesses before capitalizing on them for success. He carried the world championship title for 27 years. He finally died at the age of 72

In 1894 at just 25 years of age, Lasker won the game against the famous Wilhelm Steinitz to become a world champion.

He is considered one of the best players of all time since he held the title of a world champion from 1894 to 1921 before he was defeated by Capablanca.

Many recall about him following the famous win against Capablanca in 1914, which was held in Saint Petersburg

Of the eight major matches he played in his career as a champion, he won six out of the eight games.

10. Mikhail Botvinnik

He was born in Vyborg, then Finland on August 17th, 1911. Like all other chess players of all time, he also learned about the game in his childhood. He was brought up in Saint Petersburg.

His first winning of the USSR championship was in 1931. The victory he would later confirm 5 more times between 1933 and 1952

Similarly, in 1941, he emerged top in the absolute soviet championship.

In 19546 FIDE invited six players to define the champion following the death of Alexander Alekhine. He participated in the game and eventually in 1948 won the FIDE world championship tournament. A title he was later to retain after playing against David Bronstein in 1951.

In 1958 he played a return match with Vasily Symslov and won the game to maintain his championship title.

Similarly, a return match played in 1960 saw him maintain the FIDE world championship title before he retired from the championship games.

He is mainly remembered for employing the deep calculation and endgame skills

11. Paul Morphy

Paul Charles Morphy was born on June 22, 1837, in New Orleans US. Although his chess career lasted about two years only, was very brilliant in the game. He took to chess game at just 10 years.

He first won the American chess championship game in 1857, the tournament was held in New York City. After that victory, he proceeded to Germany where he challenged and defeated the German champ Adolf Anderssen.

He then widened the challenge to any daring player. However, even the top English player Howard Staunton shied away from the challenge.

He then proceeded to Paris and played the blindfolded chess game against 8 players. He won six but drew two times.

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