Top 10 Best Chess Players In History

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By CraigAK

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Some games imitate life; Chess does it the best. The Royal game of Chess is a science and art of perfection. After its origin in India, this game became a concern of the Persians and the Arabs in the medieval West. Throughout the history, the game of chess has seen several legendary minds who have helped in redefining and reshaping the game with their innovative techniques and ideas. Moves inside a board with 64 square boxes and a final check-mate to end the game is what the game is much fascinating about.

People don’t pay much attention to these sort of lists that mention ‘best chess players in history’ just because this game of chess continues to improve and newer techniques and moves change the entire history. But here, we list the top 10 best chess players in history to emphasize on the peak rating, longevity, tournament records and the overall accomplishments of some of the greatest minds this royal game has seen. Chess theories have evolved since the late 60s and this list mentions about players with a great historical dominance and their strength to modern system of play.

10. Mikhail Tal (1936-1992)

[alert-note] Peak ELO Rating: 2700, Chessmetrics Rating: 2737[/alert-note]

Mikhail Tal- World's best chess player in historySoviet- Latvian Chess grandmaster Mikhail Tal was also called ‘the magician of Riga’ because of his finest even exponent in attacking gameplay. With several sacrificial style of gameplay, he created complications against his opponents with his imaginative tactics. A superb game changer, he used to display unfathomable combinations which saw his opponents in sweats. His daring and combinational style of play is what made him the world champion but because of his ill health, he could not carry much long on the title he had held. Tal was also the youngest World Chess Champion at the age of 23 before Kasparov who became Champion at 22.  Tal is much respected for his gameplay by Fischer and Botvinnik who were considered as his strong opponents. Tal ascended without a single defeat in 86 games he played from July 1972 to April 1973. With a win percent of over 65, Tal played around 3,000 tournaments during his lifetime.

9. Mikhail Botvinnik (1911- 1995)

[alert-note] Peak ELO Rating: 2720, Chessmetrics Rating: 2828 [/alert-note]

Mikhail Botvinnik- best ever chess player in the worldMikhail Botvinnik was the first product from the Soviet School and was known for his discipline and insightful gameplay which ranked him to the top for decades. After ascending to the Chess throne in 1948, nobody but he was on the top until 1972. He could play in clear positions giving opponents to analyze his game but was not afraid of any complications. With strong grasp of strategy in the game he became a dominant figure in Chess history after the World War II. He contributed to the Chess theories with his original opening ideas and several other meticulous analysis. Three times world Champion Botvinnik played very well against his contemporaries: Capablanca +1-1=5, Lasker _1-0=3, Fischer =1.

It has been speculated that Botvinnik even won his matches by collusion with Soviet player and Fischer once accused Soviets to fix Chess Championship games. However, nobody could deny that Botvinnik remains one of the finest chess players of his time.

8. Vladmir Kramnik (1975- Present)

[alert-note] Peak ELO Rating: 2807, Chessmetrics Rating: 2831[/alert-note]

Vladmir Kramnik- best ever Chess player in historyRussian Chess Grandmaster, Vladmir Kramnik also referred to as ‘Iceman’ has a defensive style of play often described as the invincible. His strong yet clear style of play helped him build positions strong for both offense and defense. A powerful positional player, Kramnik’s techniques are flawless to define. He won the World Junior U18 Championship in 1991.  He won the Credit Suisse Masters in 1995, Dos Hermanes Super GM in 1996, and Melody Amber Super GM in 1996, 1998, and 1999. He became the World Chess Champion in 2000 beating Gary Kasparov +2-0=13 and hold the title for six years until 2006.

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