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Greatest Chess Players of All Time

January 2, 2020 185 0
Greatest Chess Players of All Time

The chess industry in Thailand can be traced to Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. A blend of expats and locals meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, to play chess. Blitz tournaments are also available for chess enthusiasts. Competitions frequently occur in Bangkok. In terms of player’s strength, it ranges from beginners to casual players. Pattaya has more dedicated players than in any other city in Thailand. 

Unfortunately, Thailand is not taken seriously as a chess-playing country. The country is lacking in terms of development, but progress is already in the works. A lot of young players from Chiang Mai, Pattaya, or Bangkok have what it takes to be a professional chess player, and there are greatest chess players of all time to look up to their successful careers.

Garry Kasparov (1963) 

He started to become famous and ruled the chess world at the age of 22. He was the youngest indubitable World Chess Champion in the year 1985 and remained on the top one ranking until his retirement in the year 2005. 

At the age of ten, Garry Kasparov started training at Mikhail Botvinnik’s school of chess. He accidentally entered into a professional tournament in 1978, and fortunately, he came out winning the competition. Garry then reached the number two ranking in 1983. And in 1984, he lost to Karpov in a 48-game match when he called for a World Title challenge. He then turned things around the following year when he won the title and defended it three times. Garry left FIDE in 1993, in which the title remained split for 13 years. It was in the year 2000 when he lost the title to Kramnik. In 2005, Garry declared his retirement after being victorious at the prestigious Linares tournament nine times. He completely dominated the chess industry for 20 years and was ranked number one player in the world when he retired.

Anatoly Karpov (1951) 

Anatoly Karpov was the youngest Soviet National Master at the age of 15. He became the World Junior Chess Champion in 1969, defeated Korchnoi and Spassky in the year 1974. Anatoly then challenged Bobby Fischer for the World Title. He won the title by default because Fischer withdrew from the championship match.

Anatoly reigned the chess world from 1975 to 1985 and the years 1993 to 1999 but unchallenged with 160 first-place tournaments. He defended his title successfully against Kasparov in 1984 but lost the title to him the following year.

The Linares Tournament is the most powerful chess tournament in history. Anatoly won the 1995 Linares tournament and continued defending his title against Gata Kamsky in 1996. In the year 1999, he surrendered his title in protest over FIDE rule changes on the categories for the title. His impressive accomplishments unquestionably certify him as one of the greatest professional chess players in history. 

Anatoly’s best chess game happened in a match in the strong tournament in Linares in the year 1994, in which he won with an incredible score of 11/13. It was an impressive tournament for Anatoly as he beat some great players in the finals. Players like  Vladimir Kramnik, Garry Kasparov, Alexei Shirov, Vishy Anand, Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov, Evgeny Bareev, Boris Gelfand are some of those who he defeated.

Magnus Carlsen (1990)

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Magnus Carlsen is a professional chess player with a magnificent career full of great achievements. He earned his first grandmaster title in 2004 at the age of 13 years old. He also reached an incredible Elo rating of over 2800 and became number one in the world FIDE rankings.

Magnus outlasted the reigning World Chess Champion Vishy Anand in a twelve game match. He became the new World Chess Champion after he won the game in ten games.

He won the 2014 World Rapid Championship and World Blitz Championships as he successfully retained his title in a rematch with Vishy Anand. 

Magnus reached his peak rating of 2882, which is the highest rating in the history of chess. He then successfully defended his title against Russian Super-Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin in the year 2016. Magnus shows no weaknesses that make him one of the greatest chess players in the world. He seldom misses tactical chances and plays positional and strategic chess while waiting for small advantages. Once he sees the opening, he knows how to divert it into a victory.

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900)

Wilhelm Steinitz was considered a great contributor to modern-day chess. He showed a new technique of positional play, which is the total opposite of an all-out attack. It was considered cowardly but valid. Wilhelm is usually called “the father of positional play,” where he also contributed his thoughts and writings about the game.

His ideas were the pillars of all the positional schemes in the chess industry, even if it sounded strange to modern plays. Lasker and Tarrasch looked up to Wilhelm as their “teacher.”

Wilhelm defeated Adolf Andersson, who was the most powerful active player in the world in 1866. In between the years 1873 to 1882, Wilhelm only had one match won the match with an ideally 7 to 0 score against Blackburne. And in 1886, he defeated his rival, Zuckerfort, for “championship of the world.”

He also defeated Gunsberg and Chigorin as he continued his legacy for the next eight years. But in 1894, Emmanuel Lasker gave him a beating and handed him his loss. Due to poverty, Wilhelm died in 1900.

Jose Raul Capablanca (1888-1942)

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Capablanca began his chess career at the very young age of four. He was very impressive at the age of 13 when he defeated the Cuban champion. And at the age of 18, he showed US Champion Frank Marshall how to win a game with a score of 15 to 8. Adding to his achievements, he won the World Chess Championship as he ended the reign of Lasker in 1921. He held on to his title as he successfully defended it for six years.

Capablanca gave a brilliant performance when he played against 103 players simultaneously, defeating them all and drawing only one game. Every greatest chess players of all time have their downfalls as he lost his title to Alexander Alekhine. Capablanca tried to regain his glory but was not successful at it. He ended up retiring in the year 1931.

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)

Robert “Bobby” James Fischer started his professional chess career at the age of 14. He had a tremendous career having won 8 US Chess Championships, becoming the youngest Grandmaster at the age of 15, and the youngest candidate for a World Chess Championship. He also won 20 successive matches in the “1970 Interzonal” in the year 1970. Adding to his career, Bobby defeated Boris Spassky and became the World Chess Champion in a very famous match. 

He did not agree on the match conditions with FIDE. That’s why he was not able to defend his title in 1975. Bobby was the only player where he had such a significant difference in talent between his rivals. His style of play makes him one of the most popular among chess players.

One of Bobby’s memorable chess games was the sixth game in his legendary World Championship Match in Reykjavik in 1972 with Boris Spassky. Bobby ended the Soviet School of chess domination.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946)

Alexander Alekhine was one of Russia’s greatest chess players at the age of 16. By the age of 22, he became the world’s most influential player. His career boosted when he defeated Capablanca in the year 1927. That was his primary purpose in which he accomplished with six wins, three losses, and 25 draws. He kept his title in 1929 and 1934 against Bobojubov but lost it to Max Euwe in the year 1935. Alexander regained the title immediately in 1937 and held on to it until his passing in 1946.

Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995)

Mikhail Botvinnik was the coach of great players Anatoly Karpov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Garry Kasparov. He was a great inspiration to the development of the World Chess Championship. Mikhail became the Soviet Champion in the year 1930, but due to World War 2, his challenge to Alekhine did not push through. In the 1940s, he held on the title of “Absolute Champion of USSR.”

In 1948, he started his world reign and continued until the year 1963. He had several battles with chess legends like David Bronstein, Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, and Tigran Petrosian. Mikhail devoted himself to the development and training of young Soviet players after he retired in the year 1970.

Paul Morphy (1837-1884)

Paul Morphy was considered the most gifted chess player in the world. Paul did not choose chess as his career, but at the age of nine, he already became the best player in New Orleans. He easily defeated General Winfield Scott in the year 1846, and at the age of 12, he gave the Hungarian master Johann Lowenthal an incredible match ending only in three games.

Paul took part in the first American Chess Congress in 1857 and became the chess champion of the United States. His career was awe-inspiring as he defeated all the English Grandmasters but not Staunton. He then moved to France and fought Adolf Andersson with a record of seven wins, two losses, and two draws. At the age of 21, he was considered the most influential player.

Vishwanathan Anand (1969)

Vishy Anand was the undisputed World Chess Champion from India in the years 2007 to 2013. He has won almost every title in the chess industry. He has a FIDE rating close to 2800. Vishy won the Rapid World Chess Championships in December 2017 and still very much among the top professional chess players in the world. At the age of 18, Vishy became India’s first grandmaster.

In the year 2007, Vishy became the World Champion and then successfully defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik the following year. Vishy is still a member of the Top ten rated chess players in the chess industry.


Every grandmaster has its inspirations. These greatest chess players of all time may have their ups and downs in their careers, but evidently, they have prepared for it. Knowing their history will give you the advantage on how to handle matches and even your career.


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