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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Greatest Players in History

Here’s my list in no particular order.

Since becoming world champion Anand, unlike some others, has played in a number of events and won a lot of awards for his outstanding contribution to chess. He was awarded in India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan and as well as India’s highest sporting Honor, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Anand's contribution to Indian chess has been remarkable. He has inspired thousands of children and their parents to look at chess as something more than a mere hobby. It’s not just the Indians who like Anand; he is popular around the world. Anand may not dominate the chess world like some of his predecessors, but he remains a class player and person. For the most part he has accomplished his chess successes all by himself. From what I understand Anand is always polite, humble and a genuinely friendly person. Anand held has won the World Championship in three different formats: Knockout, Tournament, and Match and is one of the few players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list. Fischer A dastardly skunk, but his chess career speaks for itself.
No doubt about it…he dominated his rivals but it’s hard to say exactly how good he was because he did not pursue a career in chess. After he had defeated all the English players, except Staunton, who begged off playing, he went to France where he easily defeated the best players. After that he returned home and retired. Who knows how far he could have gone or what other contributions he could have made to chess theory had he continued.

He used to be on my list, but not anymore. It appears that, known or unknown to Botvinnik, there were ‘outside’ influences and pressures put on some of his rivals to make sure he ‘won.’ IMO this makes his accomplishments suspect.
Became World Championship defeating the legendary Jose Capablanca. At the age of 16, he was already one of Russia’s strongest players and by age 22 was considered one of the strongest players in the world, winning most tournaments he played in throughout the 1920’s and early 1930’s.
His games are known for their clarity and his logical and direct play made chess seem simple.
Highly positional player who improved his position by moves that showed deep positional understanding meant he did not make a lot of mistakes. His mastery of the ending was superb. Very boring, but also very, very difficult to defeat.
Their matches were a nightmare but he beat Karpov. Unlike Karpov, Kasparov played exciting chess.
Health problems hindered him. If it were not for that, it’s hard to say how far he could have gone.
Not greatly appreciated, but Bronstein narrowly missed being world champion. He should have beaten Botvinnik, but it is quite possible he was a victim of ‘outside influences.’

In the 1890s Tarrasch was one of the top 3-4 players in the world. His games, not too well-known today, are positional gems. Tarrasch taught generations of players how to play chess. I think his games are still worthy of playing over.
His star did not last long, but from about 1910 to 1913 Nimzo was one of the best players in the world. He faded fast after that though. To me, real boring.
Odd pick, I know. But…from about the mid-1920’s until the mid-1930’s Bogo was one of the top 8-10 best players in the world.
World Champion for quite awhile, even if in those days you didn’t have to play a match if you didn’t want to. Never cared much for his play.
From the early 1900’s to the late 1920’s he was among the best. Another boring player.
There was a time he probably could have beaten Botvinnik, but the Russians wouldn’t allow him the chance.

As an afterthought, I just decided to throw in Fischer’s list of the 10 greatest players in history: Morphy, Staunton, Steinitz, Tarrasch, Chigorin, Alekhine, Capablanca, Spassky, Tahl and Reshevsky


  1. Korchnoi should have beaten Karpov,but outside influences kept reminding him that his family was in Russia and may have problems if he won.

  2. You are correct...also Korchnoi has been around forever and has played at a very high level for a long time. Perhaps he should be on my list, too.

  3. I hope I can play as well as he does when I turn 80 in another 30 yrs or so :)