Here I list my favourite chess players of all time.
|Viswanathan Anand (1951-)Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand is my favourite chess player. Anand was FIDE World Champion between 2000 and 2002, and has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007, defending his title in matches against Grandmasters Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik.
In addition to being dubbed “the fastest brain in the world”, Anand is well regarded among both the chess public and his fellow chess professionals due to his modest personality and his reputation for refrain from immoral psychological ploys and ‘chess politics’.
An example of his excellent reputation among fellow professional chess players is when Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, and Magnus Carlsen, all rivals for the World Championship throughout his career, each separately advised him in preparations for the 2010 World Championship.
Anand is known to play very fast even very early on in his career. He has a powerful all-round game, but perhaps the standout of his game is his superb tactical ability.
|Anatoly Karpov (1951-)Anatoly Karpov is the most successful tournament player of all time with 161 first-place finishes to his credit. He had a balanced style. His stand-out ability was to be able to convert very small advantages into a win. Karpov’s peak rating was 2780 in 1994.
Karpov was born in Zlatoust, a city in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. His chess progressed very quickly and he became a candidate master at age 11. He became a grandmaster after coming equal 4th at an international tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
Karpov was World Chess Champion from 1975-1985 when Robert James Fischer lost the title by default. Garry Kasparov would beat him in a match in 1985 and take the title. Karpov was also FIDE World Chess Champion from 1993-1999. Karpov resigned his crown in 1999 because he was angry at FIDE getting rid of the old system of Candidates’ Matches. FIDE instead had a large knock-out tournament in which a large number of players played short matches against each other over a few weeks.
|Garry Kasparov (1963-)Garry Kasparov is widely considered to be the strongest player ever. Kasparov holds the all-time highest rating and was ranked #1 from 1986-2005, when he retired. Kasparov is known to be a dynamic attacker with a cutting edge opening repertoire. Kasparov’s peak rating was 2851 in 1999.
Garry Kasparov was born Garri Weinstein in Baku, Azerbaijan. Kasparov only began a serious study of chess when he was able to solve a chess problem proposed by his parents. In 1980, Kasparov became the second reserve for the Soviet Union at the Chess Olympiad in La Valletta, Malta. It is there he became a grandmaster.
Kasparov became the youngest ever World Chess Champion in 1985, beating Anatoly Karpov in a match. In 1993, he broke off with the official chess governing body FIDE and formed the Professional Chess Association. He was “Classical” World Chess Champion from 1993-2000, when he lost a match to Vladimir Kramnik.
|Vladimir Kramnik (1975-)Vladimir Kramnik is a Russian grandmaster. Kramnik is known to be a very difficult opponent to defeat. Leading up to his match against Kasparov in 2000, he played 80 consecutive games without a loss and lost only once in over 100 games. Garry Kasparov described Kramnik’s play as tenacious and pragmatic. Kramnik’s peak rating was 2809 in 2003.
Kramnik was born in Tuapse, a town in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated on the northeast shore of the Black Sea. Kramnik’s first great result in a major tournament in the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila when he won gold as a first reserve for the Russian team. I am unable to find when Kramnik became a grandmaster, if you can help, please contact me.
Kramnik was became “Classical” World Chess Champion in 2000, after beating Garry Kasparov in a match. He continued to hold the title and in 2006, he played a unification match, merging the FIDE World Chess Champion and Classical World Chess Champion title. He beat reigning FIDE World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov in a very controversial match and became the first undisputed World Chess Champion since 1993. Kramnik lost his title in 2007 to Viswanathan Anand at the FIDE World Chess Championship, but we are awaiting a match to fully determine the world champion. Kramnik has said that he still considers himself as the world champion until Anand defeats him in a match.
|José Raúl Capablanca (1888-1942)José Raúl Capablanca was a Cuban grandmaster. Capablanca’s chess style was elegant and seemingly effortless impressed his contemporaries and countless chess players. Capablanca was well known for playing on small advantages. Max Euwe said, “Whether this advantage is theoretically sufficient to win or not does not worry Capablanca. He simply wins the ending. That is why he is Capablanca!” Capablanca suffered fewer than 40 losses in serious tournament games during his entire career. He was undefeated over a period of more than eight years with world-class competition from February, 1916.Chessmetrics estimated Capablanca’s average rating (as the Elo system had not been developed at his time) as 2857.
Capablanca was born in Havana, the capital city, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. At an early age, Capablanca was seen as a chess prodigy due to his brilliance in play. Capablanca learned to play chess at the age of four when he was watching his father playing. At the great 1914 tournament in St. Petersburg, Tsar Nicholas II proclaimed the five prize-winners (Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch, Marshall) as “Grandmasters of Chess”.
Capablanca was World Chess Champion from 1921-1927. Lasker, who was world champion before Capablanca, resigned his title to Capablanca, saying, “You have earned the title not by the formality of a challenge, but by your brilliant mastery.” He then played a match against Capablanca as the challenger and lost. Alekhine was able to defeat Capablanca in a tight match in 1927. Alekhine had never defeated Capablanca before and the result of the match shocked the chess world. Alekhine repeatedly avoided rematch attempts from Capablanca by fixing tournaments so that they were never in the same tournament and insisting that $10,000 must be secured by the challenger in order to have a rematch. The Great Depression had just struck and Capablanca could not afford money. Capablanca was never able to regain the world champion title.
|Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935)Aron Nimzowitsch was a Danish chess player of grandmaster strength who was also a very influential writer. Nimzowitsch was a major figure in the hypermoderns. He developed many of today’s principals of positional play and strategy from his writing. He write about concepts like overprotection (probably the least important of his ideas), the fianchetto, the invasion of the seventh rank, prophylaxis, blockade, using open files, outposts and control of the centre by pieces instead of pawns. Most of his ideas are widely accepted today. Chessmetrics estimated Nimzowitsch’s average rating (as the Elo system had not been developed at his time) as 2770.
Nimzowitsch was born in Riga, the capital city of Latvia. He moved to Copenhagen, the capital and largest city of Denmark, in 1922 (or some sources say 1920) and rose to the chess elite. It is commonly noted that Nimzowitsch is of grandmaster strength although there was an opportunity to gain the title in his lifetime.
Nimzowitsch wrote three books on chess strategy. The English titles for the books are Mein System (My System), Die Praxis meines System (Chess Praxis) and Die Blockade (The Blockade). To show the great impact of these books, they are available today to purchase at Amazon.com. My System is considered Nimzowitsch’s greatest contribution to chess and it is said that 99 out of 100 chess masters anywhere in the world have read the book.