Many a great player has sat behind a chessboard, but, as in any competitive activity, some players are better than others. Below are some of the biggest legends in the history of chess. It’s difficult to compare players from different eras by rating, due to rating inflation, so these are players who really dominated the competition in their respective eras. If you’ve paid any attention to chess at all, you’ll know their names.
Kasparov began his reign of domination from the ripe old age of 22 when, in 1985, he became the youngest Chess Champion of all-time. He never lost the top-ranking spot in his entire professional chess career, which he retired from in 2005. A 10-year-old Kasparov began his training at Mikhail Botvinnik’s chess school. He unintentionally entered into pro tournament in 1978 and ended up as the winner. Just five years later, he was named World No. 2.
The following year saw Kasparov challenge for the World Title, a bid which saw him lose to Antanoly Karpov in a match that lasted 48 games. He won that same title one year later and successfully defended it three times. After leaving FIDE in 1993, the title was divided for some 13 years. In 2000, Kasparov lost his title to Vladimir Kramnik. He retired five years later, after winning a ninth Linares tournament and having dominated the game fo chess for two decades.
At just 15 years of age, Karpov became the youngest Soviet National Master of all-time. He defeated Spassky and Korchnoi in 1969 to become the World Junior chess champs and challenged Bobby Fischer for the World Title. Fisher pulled out of the match, meaning that Karpov would become the champion by way of default. Karpov was the king of chess from 1975-1985 and 1993-1999, albeit disputed, and won 160 tournaments.
However, in 1985, he lost his crown to Kasparov, who avenged his defeat at the hands of Karpov the previous year. Karpov won the Linares tournament in 1994: a tournament regarded as being the hardest-ever chess tournament to win. After a successful defence of his title, the following year, Karpov conceded the title in 1999, as a way of protesting rule changes that decided how the title should be won. Nevertheless, his record makes his a deserving name on our list.
Carlsen has achieved many great feats throughout his career. In 2004, he won his grandmaster title at aged just 13. He also impressed with an Elo rating of higher than 2800, and was named FIDE world No. 1 just one year later. Three years after that, Magnus beat Vishy Anand, then World Chess Champion, in a 12-game match. Carlsen was named the new champion when he won after just 10 games had been played. In 2014, his 2882 rating became the highest-ever in the history of the game. Two years later, he successfully defended his title for a second time.