The 22 best chess players of all time

Here is the detailed article on the best chess players of all time including short introduction and exemplary chess games.

How do you judge the best chess players of all time? I found the solution that the world champions are the best chess players in the world.

So in this post we will look into the list of all time best chess players in the world and I have selected some of the games to make this post interesting.

You can watch and judge by yourself that how they are best, and how they play best chess.

In short you will learn new ideas and techniques from all time best chess players in the world.

Table for The 22 best chess players of all time

(In this table you can read directly about your favorite player by hitting on the player’s name.)

1.Luis Ramirez de Lucena 9.Jose Raul Capablanca 17.Robert James Fischer
2.Pedro Damiano 10.Alexander Alekhine 18.Anatoly Karpov
3.Ruy Lopez de Segura 11.Max Euwe 19.Garry Kasparov
4.Francois-Andre Danican Philidor 12.Mikhail Botvinnik 20.Vladimir Kramnik
5.Adolf Anderssen 13.Vasily Smyslov 21.Viswanathan Anand
6.Paul Morphy 14.Mikhail Tal 22.Magnus Carlsen
7.Wilhelm Steinitz 15.Tigran Petrosian
8.Emanuel Lasker 16.Boris Spassky

Chess Games of All Time Best Chess Players in the World

In our opinion  the first chess champion was Luis Ramirez de Lucena. Lets see why we selected Lucena as a first chess champion.

 

 

Luis Ramirez de Lucena
Photo credit: mongoosepress. com

 

1.Luis Ramirez de Lucena

If you look into the history of chess then you will find The oldest chess book in the history of chess was written byLuis Ramirez de Lucena.

Its called  ” Repetición de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez con 101 Juegos de Partido (Repetition of Love and the Art of Playing Chess) ” .

This book contains analysis of openings and elementary errors.

Chess Game of Luis Ramirez de Lucena

 

pedro damiano
photo credit: chessdirect.co. uk

2.Pedro Damiano

Pedro was a Portuguese chess player. he was pharmacist by his profession. He wrote the book ” Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti ( in this book he analyzed some openings, problems and gave suggestions on strategy ).

Chess Game of Pedro Damiano

 

Ruy lopez de segur
photo credit: quhist. com

 

3.Ruy Lopez de Segura

He was a priest in Segura (Spain).  He was considered the first unofficial chess champion because at that time he defeated all strong players in Italy including Leonardo and Boi (Finest players of Italy at that time).

His famed book is ” Libro de la Invencion Liberal y Arte del Juego del Axedrez (Book of Liberal Invention and Art in the Game of Chess) “.

In this book he talked about strategy and openings.

Chess Game of Ruy Lopez de Segura

 

 

François-André Danican Philidor
photo credit: en. wikipedia. org

 

4.François-André Danican Philidor

Philidor played blindfold two games publicly in Paris in 1744. In 1749 his ” Analysis of Chess” was published. In that analysis he talked about openings, middle game, and endgame.

If you are fond of quotes, you must know his favorite quote about pawns. A line from his book “Les pions sont l’ame du jeu(the pawns are the soul of chess) “.

His name is associated with an endgame called Philidor position. The legend passed away in London, England in 1975.

Chess Game of François-André Danican Philidor

 

 

 

Adolf Anderssen
photo credit: en .wikipedia. org

 

 

5.Adolf Anderssen

His full name was ” Karl Ernst Adolf Anderssen “. He was German chess master. He was considered best players in in the world in 1850s to 1860s. At that time Paul Morphy toured Europe and defeated him soundly. but later Morphy retired from chess and Adolf Anderssen become best players in the world. Anderssen’s chess games are famous even today for attacking play.

[ Check Also: Game of the day, Anderssen vs Wyvill ]

Chess Game of Adolf Anderssen

 

 

 

paul morphy
photo credit: wikipedia. org

 

 

6.Paul Morphy

He was a genius as bobby Fischer stated. (“Morphy was probably the greatest genius of them all.” Bobby Fischer).

In 1857 Paul Morphy won the First American Chess Congress with outstanding performance. And in a tour of Europe he defeated Adolf Andersson.

In his time the title of world champion did not exist. But even today we analyze his games and we can say that he was a legend.

[Check Also: Morphy’s best chess games ]

Chess Game of Paul Morphy

 

 

 

Wilhelm Steinitz
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

7. Wilhelm Steinitz

Wilhelm Steinitz came from Prague (Now Czech Republic) but at that time it was an Austrian Empire. In 1866 he won a match and at that time he was considered the best player in the world after that win. In 1886 match with Zukertort, he won the official world chess championship and then he defended against Mikhail Chigorian. He lost the title against Emanuel Lasker. If you watch his early games you will be surprised about his king’s move.

[Check Also: Steinitz Chess Games Annotated by Steinitz]

Let’s watch one of his game.

 

And I know that you enjoyed that game, Let’s look at another game where you know how to play with the pawn center.

 

 

 

 

Emanuel Lasker
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

8. Emanuel Lasker

Lasker remained a chess champion for 27 years, what a long period and dream for every chess champion. I think this one liner introduction is enough for judging best chess player of all the time. For those who don’t know about him, I want to tell that he was not just a chess champion but he was a mathematician and P.H.D holder. And if you are amateur  player you may set him as a role model.

Let’s watch the game.

After this match Capablanca never played 3.a6 in Ruy Lopez against Lasker.

[Check Also:⇒ Emanuel Lasker’s Best Chess Games ]

 

Capablanca
worldchesshof. com

 

 

9. Jose Raul Capablanca

Capablanca was a Spanish chess player and he was a chess champion from 1921 to 1927. He lost his world chess champion title from Alekhine. This is a short introduction about him. and one more thing is that when you hear Capablanca’s name then you must attach the endgame master, yes it’s right. That’s the easiest way to remember him, and if you are beginner in chess I suggest you that you must watch his chess games and you will learn endgame technique. So let’s watch his chess game.

Let’s look another chess game of the endgame expert, If you have not studied his endgames then these two games will not force you to accept Capablanca as a endgame expert. Anyway let’s look at his next endgame technique.

 

[Check Also:⇒ Best Games of Capablanca ]

Alekhine
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

10. Alexander Alekhine

Alekhine was a Russian chess master and fourth world chess champion. If you want to remember him you can call Alekhine the attacker. Who is the endgame expert? I hope you got it. It was just a test. Now let’s talk about the attacker. Alekhine left Russia and emigrated to France where he represent France in five chess Olympiads on board 1.

Alekhine became world chess champion after beating Capablanca. After that he defended the title from Bogoljubov in 1929 and 1934. As I mentioned above, he was great attacker, if you are a attacker then you should study his chess games in your openings. You will find a lot of attacking Ideas.

Let’s watch his game.

Let’s watch one more game. In this game you will not a tactics but it’s a positional game and in this game you will learn how to win the game when you have the open file.

 

 

[Check Also: Alekhine’s Best Chess Games (top 4) ]

 

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11. Max Euwe

Max was Dutch chess player and became fifth world champion after beating Alekhine in 1935. Euwe was a mathematician and author. He also served FIDE as a president from 1970 to 1978. He lost the title from Alekhine in a rematch in 1937. Max was never appreciated as greatest chess player in the world because he only won chess championship once but that’s not true and now we know the facts. He was the chess champion and we have to agree that.

Let’s watch his game.

[Check Also:⇒ Best Games of Max Euwe]

 

Mikhail Botvinnik
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

12. Mikhail Botvinnik

If you are not a professional player then the Mikhail Botvinnik is the best role model for you, because he was an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the time when he was competing at highest level of chess. Mikhail Botvinik was one of the chess player who achieved distinction in his career while playing competitive chess.

He hold the world chess champion title for 15 years. He also known as father of Soviet Chess School. Mikhail taught many students and if we name to the top students, they are Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik.

Let’s watch his game.

Let’s watch another game of Mikhail Botvinik.

[Check Also: ⇒ Botvinnik Chess Games (Top 10 Games)]

 

Vasily Smyslov
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

13. Vasily Smyslov

Smyslov has the record of holding 17 medals in chess Olympiad and won Soviet Chess Champion two times.

He is know for his strong play in positional chess. He became Seventh world chess champion after beating Botvinik in 1957.
If you play KID (King’s Indian Defense) then you should watch his game, Symslov brought the KID in chess as good weapon.

Let’s watch his chess game. In this game you will also learn, how to create a outpost and win.

 

[Check Also: ⇒ How to create outpost in chess (Smyslov vs Rudakovsky) ]

 

Mikhail Tal
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

14. Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal was born in 1936 in Riga (Latvia). He is known for his tactical games and also called Magician from Riga. In 1960 he defeated the the world chess champion Mikhail Botvinik and became a world chess champion.

His health was suffered from smoking and alcohol. Therefor the great magician passed away in 1992 at the age of 52.

Let’s watch attacking chess game from world chess championship match against Mikhail Botvinik.

[Check Also: ⇒ Mikhail Tal [Biography and Attacking Chess Games]

 

Tigran Petrosian
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

15. Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian was a Russian chess grandmaster  . He had a very tough life and became orphan in world war II. Here is interview with TIME magazine in 1969.

I started sweeping streets in the middle of the winter and it was horrible. Of course there were no machines then, so we had to do everything by hand. Some of the older men helped me out. I was a weak boy. And I was ashamed of being a street sweeper—that’s natural, I suppose. It wasn’t so bad in the early morning when the streets were empty, but when it got light and the crowds came out I really hated it. I got sick and missed a year in school. We had a babushka, a sister of my father, and she really saved me. She gave me bread to eat when I was sick and hungry. That’s when this trouble with my hearing started. I don’t remember how it all happened. Things aren’t very clear from that time.

He became the 9th world chess champion in 1963 after beating Mikhail Botvinik. He is known for very solid play and as defense player with great positional understanding.

Let’s watch his chess game.

Let’s watch another game Tigran Petrosian.

[Check Also:⇒ White controls white squares (Petrosian vs Ivkov) ]

 

Boris Spassky
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

16. Boris Spassky

Boris Spassky was Russian chess grandmaster. He learned chess on a train at the age of 5. Spassky got attention in chess world at the age of 10 when he defeated Mikhail Botvinik in simultaneous exhibition match. Boris Spassky considered as a all rounder player and his universal approach gave him many victories among top grandmasters.

He became tenth world chess champion after beating Tigran Petrosian in 1969. He is also known for the battle against the famous Bobby Fischer although he lost from Bobby Fischer.

Borris Spassky is still alive, I have created interesting tribute post on it.

Let’s watch his chess games.

 

 

[Check Also: Boris Spassky [Oldest Chess Champion Turns 83!]

 

Robert James
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

17. Robert James Fischer

I think the word “Bobby” is missing in the title? No it’s not correct because his full name was Robert James Fischer. He is famous as a Bobby Fischer.

Bobby Fischer was an American chess grandmaster. Fischer was born in 1943 in Chicago (USA). He was the first American chess champion and he still holds the record of only chess champion in the history of American chess.

He became youngest US chess champion at the age of 15. And at the age of 15 he became youngest chess grandmaster (at that time) and youngest candidate to the world championship.

Bobby Fischer also holds the record of 11 wins out of 11 in 1963/64 Us Championship, you can the perfect score in the history.

Fischer is also known for great opening play and theoretical knowledge. He became the world chess champion in 1972 after beating Boris Spassky.

Let’s watch his chess games.

If you want to play his opening repertoire you can check this amazing post. [Check Also: ⇒ Bobby Fischer (Opening Guide) ]

 

 

Anatoly Karpov
photo credit: en. Wikipedia. org

 

18. Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Karpov is Russian chess grandmaster and he was born in 1953 in Russia. Karpov learned chess at the age of 4 and became a candidate master at the age of 11. He was accepted in Mikhail Botvinik’s chess school at the age of 12.

At the early age of Karpov has difficulties learning chess theory but under the great Mikhail’s chess school he cleared his confusions about chess theory. He also won a gold medal for his excellence in academic at high school.

Karpov also holds the record of 9 consecutive victories in chess tournaments. He also served USSR in 6 Chess Olympiad with gold medals. He is also known for battles against Garry Kasparov and as positional player he likes to endgame like Capablanca . Anatoly Karpov remained undisputed chess champion from 1975 to 1985. Karpov still appears in some chess tournaments.

Let’s watch his chess game.

[Check Also: The Dragon will die ( Karpov vs Korchnoi)]

 

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19. Garry Kasparov

Kasparov is Russian chess grandmaster and former world chess champion. He was born in 1963 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

He started chess at the age of 7 when he solved chess problem occurred in his parent’s game.

Kasparov started his training at the age of 10 in Mikhail Botvinik’s chess school.  At the age of 15 he qualified for the Soviet Chess championship in 1978.

Kasparov became the world chess champion in 1985 by defeating Karpov. He became youngest world chess champion at the age of 22. Garrky Kasparov is known for attacking chess player like Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and Bobby Fischer. Kasparov announced his retirement in 2005.

If you want to play attacking chess or you are a attack then you should study his chess games.

Let’s watch his chess game.

[Check Also: ⇒ Garry Kasparov and his Best Chess Games Ever ]

Vladimir Kramnik
photo credit: en. wikipedia. org

 

 

20. Vladimir Kramnik

Kramnik was born in 1975 in Tuapse, Russia. He studied chess under the Mikhail Botvinik’s chess school. Kramnik is the only chess player who won a world chess championship  from Garry Kasparov in 2000 in London.

Kramink held the title for 7 years and lost his title from Viswanathan Anand.  In his early chess games, you will see a fearless chess player but now he became more positonal player and known as a positional player. He is also known for deep preparation in Berlin Defense.

The 14th chess world champion retired from clasical chess in 2019 at the age of 43. In the press release of Tata Steel’s website he announced the retirement in these words.

The life of a professional chess player was a great journey and I am very thankful to chess for all it has given me. It has sometimes been difficult, sometimes more successful than I could ever imagine, but in any case it has been a priceless human experience for me. I have always tried my best to give it all from my side, being fully involved in it while working and playing chess…

I might still like to play a rapid or blitz chess tournament at times, or do a simultaneous like the Tata Steel Chess simultaneous in the Dutch parliament building this afternoon and will participate in various events connected with chess, popularising this great game

Let’s watch his chess game.

 

 

Viswanathan Anand
photo credit: livemint. com

 

21. Viswanathan Anand

Anand was born in 1969 in Tamil Nadu (India). He is the only Asian chess player who achieved the world chess champion’s title. He learned chess at the age of six from his mother.

In 1984 Anand won the Asian Junior chess championship which earned him Inetrnational Master Title in chess. In 1987 Anand became the first Indian chess player to win world junior chess championship.

Anand was the undisputed chess champion from 2007 to 2013.

Let’s watch his chess game.

[Check Also: ⇒ Vishy Anand’s Attacking Chess Games ]

Magnus Carlsen
photo credit. state. com

22. Magnus Carlsen [Current World Chess Champion]

Magnus Carlsen was born in 1990 in Norway. Carlsen’s father taught him the chess. He stated that his desire in childhood was to beat his elder sister. He read his first chess book called “Find the plan” written by Bent Larsen, and his first opening book was The Complete Dragon by Eduard Gufeld.

At the age of 13 he drew game against Garry Kasparov and on the same event he won the game against Anatoly Karpov in 2004. This result brought serious attention in chess world.

In 2009, he became the youngest chess player to break 2800 rating in chess history. In 2013 he became the world chess champion after defeating Anand. Carlsen Defended his title against Sergy Karjakin in 2016 and against Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

Magnus Carlsen is known for endgame master and often he outplays his opponent in endgame.

Here are his some attacking chess games which I liked a lot and I want to share with you.

Let’s watch his attacking chess games.

 

 

[Check Also: Magnus Carlsen’s chess games (Attacks) ]

 

Conclusion

In this post I have chosen only world champions as the best chess players of all time. You may have different criteria for choosing best chess players in the world. Comment below If you prefer someone above these chess players. Share it if you like the post.

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