Know About Top Chess Players

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Chess is a high-strung game that is best suited for people with a passion to exercise their intelligence. It requires extensive planning, intense memory skills, and the ability of foresight to make predictive moves.

There are many chess aficionados who enjoy the gameplay to challenge themselves and fight for titles but there are only a handful of the best chess players in the world who truly understand the essence of the game.

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Of course, federations like FIDE have a dedicated system to determine who the top chess players really are based on their ELO ratings and FIDE ratings. However, not all famous chess players are necessarily the best. It’s not the most efficient system but it does help determine the top 10 world chess players from a long list of participants.

While it is worth knowing who the top 10 chess players are, let’s take it up a notch and get to know the 20 top chess players in the world. After all, you never know if the top 20 cumulatively offer better chess moves than the top 10 chess players.

How do you define the best chess player??

As we have mentioned, chess is intricate gameplay that requires good memory and extensive strategies.

Most institutional organizations and federations have a ranking and rating system to identify the best chess players in the world, however, you don’t really need a rating system to know who the best chess player is when you see the top chess players in the world competing against each other. Their precision and complex chess thinking are evident on the game board to determine who has the capacity to be the world’s best chess player.

Still, there are some parameters that do indicate being a good chess player, if not the best. For one, the best chess players in the world demonstrate excellent memory. The reason this plays an important role in determining their competence is that they track the opponent’s structural development in their mind in order to determine their progressive strategy.

Another important factor that affects gameplay is strategic thinking. We all have innate abilities to strategize but the best chess players in the world take this skill to a whole new level. Not only can they create strategies based on the opponent’s obvious tactics and gambits but they can predict certain movements and the outcomes before the moves are played. They use this balance of probability to create strategies that cover stupendous threats, thus rendering the opponent’s strategy absolutely moot.

The top chess players can visualize the board, positional lines, and even the outcome of a specific move that might bear consequences 20 moves later. The ability to put these aspects together when developing their strategies under high-pressure environments is what makes them the best chess players in the world.

Why ELO systems don’t work

The ELO rating system was introduced as a means to rate a chess player’s ability on a quantifiable scale without having to compare chess players who have never even competed against each other to demonstrate their brilliance. It also sets a goal for ambitious chess players who seek to acquire their chess master titles.

However, as the chess statistician Jeff Sonas rightfully pointed out, FIDE’s ELO rating system is flawed in many ways, thus the determination of the worlds top chess players is a little inconsistent. With a few obvious exceptions who definitely deserve a place among the top 10 chess players in the world, there are many chess players who are regarded as the best but could easily be beaten by someone with a zero ELO rating.

The ELO rating basically helps determine a player’s best and worst scores based on an arbitrary understanding of their best games played at national and international levels against other players. However, the players might be playing at a grand level in their everyday life and demonstrating extreme talents and skills. Thus, in the following matches, they might perform at the capacity of 2000 Elo rating even though the actual figures against their name are 1700.

The above circumstance has often caused the FIDE systems to call a particular player’s abilities into question and accuse them of cheating. That’s what demonstrates the flaw in their rating system. It is incomprehensible that the best chess player can actually play games at a higher level of performance simply because the ratings say otherwise. It is like trying to determine a fish’s ability to swim by rating it on how it performs in an aquarium.

Additionally, the FIDE Elo rating is biased for women chess players. If we were to compare and contest a male and female player against each other with equal Elo ratings, the game would not be fair to the male candidate.

Regardless, the FIDE Elo ratings do help determine the world's best chess player who has performed openly in popular events, so we continue to use them.

List of 20 best chess players

Here is a list of the best chess players in the world:

1. Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen

The Norwegian talent comes with a lot to offer in the world of chess. With a FIDE rating of 2882, Magnus Carlsen is the no. 1 chess player to date. Of course, even without his FIDE rating, he would top the list with his brilliant mind and ability to spot moves that no other chess player can. Well, no one other than his mentor Garry Kasparov.

2. Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov is easily the best chess player of all time who has impacted the world of chess in a big way. Had he not retired from competitive chess games in 2005, he would certainly be the world no. 1 chess player not just on this list but every list in history.

He became the youngest chess champion in the world at age 21, having defeated the greats, and since then Kasparov has displayed talent on the chessboard that remains unparalleled.

The only regret he has is not beating Kramnik and the inability to play rapid chess games. In all fairness though, his talents were better suited in long, strategic games with innumerable complexities.

3. Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Karpov

For ten whole years before Kasparov defeated him and took the title, Anatoly Karpov was the world’s best chess player. His only repeated defeats came from Kasparov and the one time Karpov had the lead against the best chess player, the game was eventually abandoned due to extenuating circumstances.

Still, Karpov remains one of the top chess players in the world with intense talent on the chessboard that was best-suited against a brilliant chess player like Garry Kasparov.

4. Emmanuel Lasker

Emmanuel Lasker

Have you met a man who Albert Einstein called a genius?

It is hard to do but Emmanuel Lasker was the only one who earned that compliment, and rightfully so because Lasker held the title of the best chess player in the world for 27 years straight.

Had he faced strong competition like the top 3 famous chess players on this list, Lasker could very easily have been no. 1.

5. Jose Raul Capablanca

Jose Raul Capablanca

As one of the youngest child geniuses in the world of chess, Capablanca is very famously known for being one of the best chess players in the world. At a very tender age, he started to display extreme talent and by the 1920’s he was the world champion to be reckoned with.

6. Alexander Alekhine

Alexander Alekhine

Alexander holds the second-longest record for being the world champion, hoarding the title for 17 years. He is easily one of the best chess players in the world to date and would have deserved a higher spot on this list had he selected challenging players to play against in the limited tournament matches that he played.

7. Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana

One of the strongest chess players in the world with a very high propensity to play the trickiest, most complex move is Fabiano Caruana. Although he should be competing for the third or fourth position on this list, the competition in his time is way too high for him to demonstrate all his talents in one place.

8. Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer

The first American to win the title of world champion, Bobby Fischer is one of the most famous chess players. He is well regarded for his strategy and his scores that made quite an impact on the chess world.

9. Vishwanathan Anand

Vishwanathan Anand

The first Indian to become a chess master and world champion, Vishy Anand is very well known for his skills in Rapid chess and Blitz games. He has faced the toughest competition and emerged victoriously so many times, that he put India on the rising fame in the world of competitive chess games.

10. Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik

Kramnik deserves a place on this list for his most accomplishing feat of snatching the title from the best chess player of all time, Garry Kasparov. He stands alongside Vishy Anand as the best chess player and World Champion.

11. Wilhelm Steinitz

Wilhelm Steinitz

The father of Modern Chess is easily the oldest and best chess player in the world. He was regarded as the first World Champion officially and he defended the title by playing renowned gameplay strategies.

12. Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik

Botvinnik is well known as the strategist who analyzed and rediscovered opening gameplays to benefit chess players for several decades. Even when International chess games were at the mercy of the war, Botvinnik used the 1940s to dominate the chess world quite massively.

13. Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal

One of the best chess players to run for the title of World Champion with everything he’s got is Mikhail Tal. He made his name among the famous chess players by consistently maintaining a winning streak, much like Bobby Fischer, till he finally acquired the title.

14. Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian

Another best chess player who has certainly made a name for himself as the best chess player of all time in his days is Tigran Petrosian. He was the 9th World Chess Champion with such talent that it earned him a few nicknames.

In his day, as the best chess player in the world, people often joked that it would be easier to defeat the entire Soviet Championship before you won a game against Tigran. A match between him and Kasparov would be fun to watch if Petrosian was still alive.

15. Boris Spassky

Boris Spassky

At age 18, Spassky became the youngest grandmaster globally, which undoubtedly makes him one of the best chess players in the world. His impressive gameplay is studied to this day by aspiring grandmasters in chess.

16. Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov

The Bulgarian chess player is possibly one of the best chess players in the world and strived to prove it when he attempted to acquire the title that Kasparov abandoned in 2005 upon his retirement. Even though Topalov’s gameplays feature some of the greatest chess matches in history, he still lost a match to Kramnik, thus dropping his position on this list.

17. David Bronstein

David Bronstein

David Bronstein was the youngest recipient of the Grandmaster title when it was established in 1950. Soon after, he rose to fame as the best chess players in the world at the time.

Although he was one of the great grandmasters in the 1950s, the level of competition at the time was low, which is why he does not make it to the list of top 10 world chess players.

18. Paul Keres

Paul Keres

One of the best players in the world who is known for his dominance with strong complexities is Paul Keres. Unfortunately, he is among those top chess players who never successfully won a World Champion title, which keeps him in the 18th position on this list.

19. Vasily Smyslov

Vasily Smyslov

One of the most challenging players against Botvinnik, the 7th World Champion was the terror of the 1950s when it came to chessboards. He was one of the strongest and best chess players in the world during his time ad his game notations are a source to study the fine play of chess.

20. Max Euwe

Max Euwe

In this list of the 20 top chess players, Max Euwe was the only one who was regarded as the weakest world champion. Nevertheless, he challenged the greats and even won the title by defeating Alekhine, which is an accomplishment in itself.

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FAQs:

Q. Who is the no. 1 chess player to date?

The Norwegian genius chess player Magus Carlsen is regarded as the world no. 1 chess player. He has not only demonstrated great talent to acquire the highest ELO rating, thus becoming one of the most famous chess players and grandmasters but his skills are unmatched on the game board.

Q. Who is the best chess player of all time?

The best chess player of all time is Garry Kasparov. Even though Magnus Carlsen is the No. 1 chess player to date, he was only able to achieve this height of fame and recognition because the best chess player of all time retired in 2005 from competitive chess games, thus passing on the torch to his apprentice. After all, Garry Kasparov trained Magnus Carlsen under his tutelage for a year. It may not have been the reason for Carlsen’s success but studying under the greatest Grandmaster who ever lived did make Carlsen the world's top chess player.

Q. Who is the world’s best chess player among female chess masters?

Woman Grandmaster Judit Polgar is regarded as the best female chess player of all time and a pioneer to introduce the game to more female candidates. She has a FIDE Elo rating of 2675, which is way higher than the biased ELOrating required to become a woman grandmaster.

Q. Would Garry Kasparov win against Magnus Carlsen?

Absolutely. The two best chess players in the world played two games against each other. Garry Kasparov won one of the games and the other resulted in a draw. Despite the innate talents that make him the No. 1 chess player to date, Magnus Carlsen is not likely to defeat Garry Kasparov, even if the latter hadn’t retired.

Q. Who is the best chess player in the world from India?

There are several Indian names among the top chess players in the world, however, Vishwanath Anand, popularly called Vishy Anand in chess circles, is the best chess player in the world from India. His talents are not only credited at an international platform but he was also rewarded with the second-highest civilian award in India for his brilliance.

Q. What is the highest FIDE Elo rating that the best chess players in the world have achieved?

The highest FIDE Elo rating is credited to Magnus Carlsen at 2882 after he surpassed Garry Kasparov, who was last rated at 2851 before he retired.

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