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Top 10 Greatest Chess Players Of All Time

top 10 greatest chess players of all time

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In this post, we will check out the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

The game of chess has seen many legends, world champions, challengers, world-class players, and grandmasters.

The games of these whizzes joy, encourage and guide us in the ways of the royal game. It is expected to examine the greatest players of all time in chess.

There have been many outstanding players in the history of chess but as the title implies, this article presents you with the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

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Top 10 Greatest Chess Players Of All Time

1. Garry Kasparov

Image Credit- Masterclass

Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster and former World Chess Champion. His peak rating of 2851, executed in 1999, was the most elevated recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013.

From 1984 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was rated world No. 1 for a record 255 months overall for his career, which outstrips all other prior and recent chess ranking records.

Kasparov also holds records for the most successive professional tournament victories (15) and Chess Oscars (11).

Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22 by beating then-champion Anatoly Karpov.

He is widely considered the greatest chess player of all time. Garry Kasparov is number 1 in our list of the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

2. Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Karpov is a Russian Grandmaster and former World Champion. He was born in Zlatoust, Russia on May 23, 1951.

He was the 12th World Chess Champion from 1975 to 1985, a three-time FIDE World Champion (1993, 1996, 1998), twice World Chess champion as a member of the USSR team (1985, 1989), and a six-time winner of Chess Olympiads as a member of the USSR team.

The International Association of Chess Press cited him nine Chess “Oscars”. He had a peak Elo rating of 2780, and his 102 total months at world number one is the third-longest of all time, just behind the other two greats including Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov.

Karpov has been one of the most dominant champions in chess history and has held the world title for an impressive decade from 1975 to 1985.

His victory over Viktor Korchnoi in Baguio City is considered by many as one of his finest moments as he came back from behind to defeat his opponent. Anatoly Karpov is number 2 in our list of the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

3. Magnus Carlsen

Image Credit- Chessbase

Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian chess grandmaster who is the reigning five-time World Chess Champion. He is also a three-time World Rapid Chess Champion and five-time World Blitz Chess Champion.

He has held the No. 1 position in the FIDE world chess rankings since 1 July 2011, and trails only Garry Kasparov in time spent as the highest-rated player in the world.

His peak rating of 2882 is the highest in history. He also has the record for the longest unbeaten streak at the top level in classical chess.

He reached a rating of 2800 at 18, the youngest at the time to do so. In 2010, at 19, he reached No. 1 in the FIDE world rankings, the youngest person ever to do so.

In 2013, Carlsen won his first World Championship against Viswanathan Anand. He retained his title against Anand the following year, and won both the 2014 World Rapid Championship and World Blitz Championship, becoming the first player to hold all three titles simultaneously.

4. Wilhelm Steinitz

Wilhelm Steinitz was an Austrian and later American chess player, and the first official World Chess Champion, from 1886 to 1894.

Steinitz was unbeaten in match play for 32 years, from 1862 to 1894. Statistical rating systems give Steinitz a rather lower ranking among world champions, especially because he took several long breaks from competitive play.

However, a study based on one of these rating systems shows that he was one of the most dominant players in the history of the game.

5. José Raúl Capablanca

Image Credit- Chessbase

José Raúl Capablanca was a Cuban chess player who was the world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. A chess prodigy, he is widely noted for his extraordinary endgame skill and speed of play.

Capablanca eventually won the world chess champion title from Lasker in 1921. Capablanca was undefeated from 10 February 1916 to 21 March 1924, a time that contained the world championship match with Lasker.

His style of chess was effective in the play of future world champions including Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Jose Raul Capablanca is number 5 in our list of the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

6. Bobby Fischer

Image Credit- The Telegraph

Bobby Fischer was an American chess grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. A chess prodigy, at age 14 he won the 1958 U.S. Championship. In 1964, he won the same tournament with a perfect score (11 wins). 

After the qualifying match against Tigran Petrosian, Fischer won the title match against Boris Spassky of the USSR, in Reykjavík, Iceland.

He is surely one of the top-rated chess players of all time. Bobby Fischer is number 6 in our list of the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

7. Alexander Alekhine

Alexander Alekhine was a Russian and French chess player and the fourth World Chess Champion, a title he held for two reigns.

By the age of 22, Alekhine was already among the most substantial chess players in the world. In 1927, he became the fourth World Chess Champion by defeating José Raúl Capablanca.

Alekhine is known for his extreme and creative attacking style, combined with great positional and endgame skill.

He is a strong player with solid technique who could beat anyone in the world at any time, he is known for his aggressive style of play which sometimes led him into trouble against more patient opponents like Capablanca or Botvinnik.

8. Mikhail Botvinnik

top 10 greatest chess players of all time

Mikhail Botvinnik was a Russian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1948 to 1963. He was a pioneer of the Soviet school of chess.

Mikhail also played a significant role in the organization of chess, making a substantial contribution to the design of the World Chess Championship system after World War II.

He is considered by many to be the best chess player ever. Mikhail Botvinnik is number 8 in our list of the top 10 greatest chess players of all time.

9. Paul Morphy

top 10 greatest chess players of all time

Paul Morphy was an American chess player. He is believed to have been the greatest chess master of his era and is often regarded as the unofficial World Chess Champion.

He is a chess prodigy, and was called “The Pride and Sorrow of Chess” because he had a bright chess career but withdrew from the game while still young.

Paul learned to play chess by simply observing games between his father and uncle. His family soon realized the boy’s talent for the game and stimulated him to play at family gatherings.

By the age of nine, he was believed to be one of the best players in the city. At just twelve years of age, Morphy defeated visiting Hungarian master Johann Löwenthal in a three-game match.

It is believed that if he had continued playing, he would have become even more famous than Bobby Fischer or Garry Kasparov did later on.

10. Viswanathan Anand

top 10 greatest chess players of all time
Image Credit- The Statesman

Viswanathan Anand is an Indian chess grandmaster and a five-time world chess champion. He became the first grandmaster from India in 1988 and is one of the few players to have reached an Elo rating of 2800, a feat he first accomplished in 2006.

He became the undisputed world champion in 2007 and fended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, Veselin Topalov in 2010, and Boris Gelfand in 2012.

He occupied the number one position for 21 months, the sixth-longest period on record. Many consider him the greatest rapid chess player of his generation.

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