Top 10 Greatest Chess Players Of All Time!


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Every event in this world has someone who is the best. Usain Bolt and Milkha Singh are considered to be the best sprinters, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey are the favored greatest poker players, and in the world of chess, we have several Grandmasters to let us know that they are the greatest chess players of all time.

Still, competing Grandmasters have often proven that one is always better than the other. Chess is not a game of physical strength but that of the mind, which only gets sharper the more games you play. Thus, even though we know that Magnus Carlsen is the greatest chess player of all time, we also know that he was trained by the best chess player who coached him for a year to make him the greatest. Garry Kasparov is considered the second-greatest chess player of all time.

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Then there are legends like Vishwanath Anand, Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Kasparov, and others who have proven time and time again that they have what it takes to become World Champion Grandmasters. So, let’s take a look at the top chess players of all time because trying to determine who is, was, and will be the best chess player is quite a challenge.

The top 10 greatest chess players of all time

Let’s take a look at the top 10 greatest chess players of all time who impacted the gameplay in a way that they are celebrated to this day for their talent.

1. Magnus Carlsen

The number one chess player of our time, Magnus Carlsen is regarded as the greatest and best chess player.

In 2004, when Magnus was 13 years old, he achieved the title of chess Grandmaster. By the time he was 18, he achieved the best ever ELO rating of 2800 and soon after achieved the FIDE rating of 2865, thus making him the highest-ranked chess player in history, narrowly overtaking Garry Kasparov’s rating.

The interesting thing is, Magnus Carlsen studied under the tutelage of Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player of the time, and then defeated his FIDE rating although, Carlsen was never successful in defeating Kasparov in a match.

In 2012-13, Magnus Carlsen went head-to-head with the World Chess Champion Vishwanath Anand and defeated the reigning king in a 12-game match. Since then, Carlsen became the new World Chess Champion and soon scored the impressive rating of 2882 in 2014, thus breaking his own record.

What makes Magnus Carlsen the greatest chess player of all time is his ability to analyze the chessboard and turn a small opportunity into a win. He has been known to create tactical advantages for himself during gameplay and make strategic positional moves like no other player. He appears to have zero weaknesses since he knows how to develop the littlest strength into a grand-winning move.

2. Garry Kasparov

A Chinese chess prodigy, Hou Yifan is a chess Grandmaster in her own rights.

Garry started playing chess from the tender age of 10, of course, at the time he was a beginner. From the Mikhail Botvinnik School of chess, his name was accidentally registered for the 1978 tournament games. At the time, he won the match and in the next 5 years, he became the second greatest chess player in the world.

In 1984, he entered the challenge for the World title in a match of 48 games but ultimately lost the event to Anatoly Karpov. By 1985, he entered the challenge again and finally achieved the title of World Champion, then maintained his position 3 times consecutively.

At age 22, Garry Kasparov was dominating the world of chess as the World Chess Champion and he remained the greatest chess player of all time till he retired in 2005. His most famous chess game against Veselin Topalov made the list of the greatest chess moves of all time.

3. Anatoly Karpov

Although third on the list, Anatoly Karpov was regarded as one of the greatest chess players of all time since he became the youngest Soviet National Master in the World Junior Chess Championship at the age of 15.

In 1974, he defeated big names like Spassky and Korchnoi before challenging the famous American chess player Bobby Fischer for the title of World Champion. Unfortunately, the match did not take place since Bobby Fischer withdrew his candidacy, thus making Karpov the World Champion of that event by default.

Anatoly Karpov was the undefeated World Champion from 1975 to 1985 when he finally lost the title of World Champion to Garry Kasparov. He did attain it again in 1993 and held on to it till 1999.

In 1995, he entered the strongest chess tournament of all time in Linares and won. In 1999, he relinquished his title in a form of protest against the revised FIDE rules. The new method of determining the winner of the title did not agree with one of the greatest chess players of all time. Still, his incredible achievements, not to mention how long he successfully held on to the title of the best chess player certainly make him one of the top chess players in history.

4. Vishwanathan Anand

Popularly known as Vishy Anand in chess circles, he has attained the title of World Chess Champion and retained it from 2007 to 2013 when he finally lost the title to the greatest chess player of all time, Magnus Carlsen.

He has a FIDE rating of nearly 2800 and has won every chess title in professional tournaments. His achievements not only make him one of the greatest chess players of all time but also helped him earn the second prestigious civilian award in India.

To date, he is known as one of the best rapid chess champions and his strategies are unmatched.

5. Jose Raul Capablanca

One of the greatest chess players of all time in Blitz games, Jose began his chess career when he was 4 years old. He faced off Frank Marshall with a 15 to 8 score and in 1921, he became the World Chess Champion.

He held on to his title for 6 years till Alexander Alekhine defeated him in 1927 to become the next World Champion.

6. Alexander Alekhine

One of the greatest chess players of all time, Alexander became the best in Russia when he was 16 and by age 22, he was regarded as the strongest chess player in history.

He defeated Capablanca in 1927 and retained the title of World Champion for a long time till he was defeated in 1935. In 1937 he regained the title and remained the Champion till he died in 1946.

7. Wilhelm Steinitz

The father of positional chess gameplay, Wilhelm introduced new methods of defense and attack strategies back in 1873. His methods were initially criticized but they were developed to befit the strategies we celebrate today.

Not only is he the greatest and strongest chess player of all time but many Grandmasters often refer to him as their teacher.

8. Bobby Fischer

The most famous chess player, Bobby Fischer started playing chess professionally when he was 14 years old. He was the youngest chess Grandmaster at age 15 in the US and won the US Chess Championships 8 times.

In the 1970s, he won consecutive matches 20 times and became the World Chess Champion in 1972 after defeating Spassky.

9. Mikhail Botvinnik

One of the greatest chess players of all time who coached other great players like Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov, and others is Mikhail Botvinnik. He pioneered several conceptual developments in the World Chess Championships.

He was known as the Absolute USSR Champion in the 1940s and from 1948 to 1963 he defeated the greats to become the best chess player in history.

10. Paul Morphy

Although chess was never his main career, Paul Morphy remains the strongest player in the history of chess.

He became the best chess player in New Orleans at the age of 9 and by the time he was 12, he successfully defeated General Scott. Soon after, Morphy embarked on a journey to become the American Chess Champion in 1857 and by 1858, he defeated every English Grandmaster with the exception of Staunton.

He continued to defeat European legends of chess and by the time he was 21, he became the strongest chess player in history.

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1. Who is the #1 chess player in the world?

Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen is the number 1 chess player in the world with a FIDE rating of 2865, which is truly extraordinary.

2. What is the highest ranking in chess?

The highest-ranking in chess is the World Champion Grandmaster, a title that was achieved by Vishwanath Anand and Magnus Carlsen.

3. Who is better Magnus Carlsen or Vishwanath Anand?

Magnus Carlsen is the number 1 chess player but the title of the highest rank chess player has shuffled between him and Anand multiple times. The ultimate decision can be made based on the statistics of how the two greatest chess players of all time fared against each other.

In classical games, Carlsen has defeated Anand at 12:8 and achieved a draw 50 times.

In rapid chess and exhibition events, Carlsen won 21:11 against Anand and achieved 29 draws.

In classic Rapid chess exhibition games, Carlsen achieved victory over Anand by 33:19 and concluded 79 matches in a draw.

Considering these statistics and chess odds, we can safely conclude that Magnus Carlsen is a better chess player than Vishwanath Anand, although the latter’s accomplishments are nothing short of impressive.

4. Did Magnus Carlsen ever beat Garry Kasparov?

As a matter of fact, he did. Kasparov trained Carlsen for a year but Carlsen was never able to beat Kasparov before he retired in 2005. They did draw on one of the matches that they played but the second one was won by Kasparov.

5. Was Bobby Fischer the greatest chess player of all time?

Bobby Fischer was the only American chess player to become the World Champion in the 11th official tournament games. He is the most famous chess player but he is not the greatest chess player of all time.

6. Is Gary Kasparov better than Magnus Carlsen?

Garry Kasparov did train Magnus Carlsen and the latter did become one of the greatest chess players of all time. Still, considering their skillset and innate abilities to take an eagle-eye view of the chessboard to make the best possible moves, Garry Kasparov is a better chess player than his apprentice, Magnus Carlsen.

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