successful chess players

“You can only become a great master in chess when you realize your own mistakes and weaknesses. Just like life,” Alexey Alekhine shared his thoughts on the nature of the game and how to achieve success in it. Each of the great chess players whose names will forever remain in the history of the world’s most popular board game had his path to victory.

The world's most successful chess players

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836 – 1900)

The name of the Prague native Wilhelm (Wolf) Steinitz is widely known to chess fans thanks to the fact that he was the first officially recognized world champion. The unique achievements of the talented player do not end there. 

He created the doctrine of positional play, which replaced the ideas of the “romantic” school, developed the most important principles of openings, and founded the “International Chess Magazine”.

Wilhelm Steinitz

Steinitz, the thirteenth child in the family, got interested in chess at the age of 12. Almost immediately he showed an outstanding talent for the game. Since 1883 he lived in the USA and became world champion in 1886 after defeating Johann Zukertort. Steinitz defended his title several times.

Steinitz’s chess legacy is valuable for its innovation. A brilliant player and talented researcher, he was the founder of chess theory, whose provisions formed the basis of chess science. Incidentally, many bettors use a similar approach to make successful sports betting and find the best cricket betting site.

Emanuel Lasker (1868 – 1941)

The world champion crown went from Wilhelm Steinitz to Emanuel Lasker. This happened in 1894. Lasker, 26, and Steinitz, 58, fought for the title. Lasker kept the title of King of Chess until 1921 when he won it for 27 years. The record is still unbeaten by anyone else.

The future chess player was born in modern-day Poland’s Barlinec (formerly Prussian Berlinechen). From the age of 11, the boy studied mathematics seriously. For this, he moved to Berlin. Here Emanuel also studied chess and even earned his living playing for a bet in a cafe.

Emanuel Lasker

Being a gifted mathematician and philosopher, Lasker paid a lot of attention to the psychological factors of the game. When competing, he tried to create situations on the board that would knock his opponent out of his state of comfort, causing insecurity. Other innovations belong to Lasker, such as the “sacrifice of two bishops” combination. It was used in a match against Johann Bauer in 1889.

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José Raúl Capablanca (1888-1942)

Born in Havana, Capablanca was the third world chess champion, one of the strongest players in the first half of the 20th century, and the winner of a large number of international tournaments. Interestingly, Capablanca was defeated 34 times during his career. He played his first tournament as a professional when he was 8 years old.

The Cuban took an interest in chess at the age of four. Growing up in an officer’s family, the boy watched his father play. Just a few days after his acquaintance with chess, the future champion beat his father. Capablanca talked about this in his autobiographical book.

José Raúl Capablanca

Despite his outstanding talent as a chess player, José Raúl regarded the game as a way of making money and an element of status. This did not take away from Capablanca’s ambition and did not prevent him from beating the strongest players of his time.

The Cuban is known as a “chess machine” for his amazing ability to choose the most winning solutions in any position and to make virtually no mistakes. It is not surprising that between 1916 and 1924 Capablanca never lost a game.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946)

The Russian and French chess player managed to win the title of world chess champion against Capablanca himself. A member of a noble family whose family owned an estate in Voronezh province, Alekhine played for the Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and then France.

Alexander Alexandrovich effectively held the chess crown for life. Alekhine won the title of champion in 1927 and retained it until his death, with a short break in 1935-1937. However, Alekhine’s name became well known in the chess world even before the First World War. The young talent was among the winners of the St Petersburg tournament in 1914. Six years later he became the first winner of the RSFSR championship. In 1921 he moved to France.

Alexander Alekhine

Being a versatile player, Alekhine even won big tournaments by a wide margin. Contemporaries described his style of play as attacking, hard and aggressive. It was not difficult for Alexander Alexandrovich to calculate every situation several steps ahead. He was a virtuoso in his endgame technique. He wrote books in which he shared nonstandard and interesting theoretical developments.

Mikhail Botvinnik (1911 – 1995)

Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik won a lot of titles during his long and bright life: he was the first USSR chess champion, Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR, and winner of the Chess Olympiad.

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Botvinnik remained the world champion from 1948 to 1963. He won it not by defeating the reigning champion, but by winning numerous games against other candidates. The unconventional award of the title was connected with the death of Alexander Alekhine.

Mikhail’s acquaintance with the game took place when the future chess player was 12 years old. His first tournament, a school tournament, took place in 1923 in Leningrad. Two years later Botvinnik managed to defeat Capablanca, who came to the USSR for the Moscow International Tournament and played simultaneous play on 30 boards.

Botvinnik is called the patriarch of the USSR chess school. Such chess geniuses as Karpov, Kramnik and Kasparov grew up on their research and theoretical developments. A computer chess program was developed under his leadership.  

Robert Fischer (1943-2008)

Robert, or Bobby, Fischer is the eleventh world champion. According to the chess magazine Sahovski Informator, he was the greatest grandmaster of the twentieth century.

Fischer, a native of Reykjavik, displayed his talent for chess in his childhood. At the age of 13, Bobby won the US Junior Championship, and the following year he also won the adult championship.

Robert Fischer

Another of Fischer’s achievements is that he became the youngest contender for the chess crown of his time. Bobby claimed the title of world champion at the age of 15. And he won the title as a result of hard, long work in 1972, defeating the Soviet chess player Boris Spassky.

Fischer was also known for the fact that negotiating with him was extremely difficult. He rarely gave interviews, explaining his reluctance to talk to the press by his tiredness and busy schedule. The sportsman demanded to be paid to attend conferences and talk to fans.

The grandmaster created a chess manual, which is still a handbook for any player involved professionally in chess.

Anatoly Karpov (1951)

Anatoly Karpov, the famous chess player who represented both the USSR and Russia on the world stage, was born in Zlatoust, Chelyabinsk Oblast. He learned to play chess from the age of 5, first at his father’s and then at the factory chess section. As a teenager, he came to the capital to train at the “Botvinnik School”. The famous Grandmaster didn’t immediately see the future world chess star, even believing that Tolya would never make it.

Anatoly Karpov

Karpov had to prove that this view was wrong. He won the world title in 1975-1985 and 1993-1996. Repeatedly took part and won the Chess Olympiad, playing for the USSR team. He’s the owner of nine Chess Oscars.

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Among the secrets of Karpov’s success are his photographic memory, psychological stability, and remarkable intuitive abilities. Anatoly is an excellent tactician. He has a great technique for realizing his advantage in the game. Developing his attack slowly, Karpov left no chance for his opponents to win.

Many experts and chess enthusiasts believe that the showdown between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov for the title of champion was the most thrilling in the entire history of chess tournaments.

Garry Kasparov (1963)

Garry Kasparov, international grandmaster and merited master of the sport, made history at chess tournaments as the thirteenth world champion and the man who could beat the computer.

Kasparov is considered to be the most talented and successful pupil of the Mikhail Botvinnik school. He calls Alexander Alekhine his idol. And his passion for chess began in his childhood, which took place in the city of Baku. There, Garry first followed his parents’ solutions to chess problems published in newspapers, and then, from the age of 7, attended a section in the Pioneers’ Palace.

Garry Kasparov

Over time, Kasparov’s remarkable talent as a strategist became apparent. He became world champion for the first time in 1985 after defeating Karpov. Fans followed the dramatic confrontation with this chess player in the 1980s and early 1990s. The grandmasters challenged the title of chess king five times.

In 1996 a famous match took place in which Garry Kasparov’s opponent was a computer. The chess player was convinced that the machine, however “clever” it was, could not play better chess than man. The first game went to the artificial mind, but Kasparov won the whole tournament.

Vladimir Kramnik (1975)

Kramnik is a student of the Botvinnik and Kasparov schools. His mentors quickly discerned the boy’s uncommon abilities. He was a position chess player who had a profound understanding of strategy.

Vladimir Kramnik

At the age of 25, with a convincing victory over Garry Kasparov, he won the title of a world chess champion. This success against Kasparov, considered by many experts to be the best chess player in history, is one of the best pages in Kramnik’s career.

Cold-blooded, pragmatic, and collected at the chess board, Vladimir did not give up his title to anyone from 2000 until 2007. This period saw Kramnik’s duel with artificial intelligence, which ended in a draw.


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