Thanks to Beth Harmon, chess players are becoming increasingly popular in popular culture. So what makes a hot chess player? Some chess players are hot because they break records, have unique play styles, or have a ton of wins. Read on to learn about the best chess players in the world throughout history.
A Norwegian citizen, Magnus Carlson has been the reigning world champion since 2011. He holds several records, including being the youngest player to ever reach a 2800 rating. His highest ranking was 2889, which he achieved in 2014. He also set a record for the most undefeated streak in standard time controls with over 120 games that started in February 2020.
Garry Kasparov is a Russian Grandmaster who was the 13th world champion from 1985 to 2000. His highest ranking was 2856 in March of 2000. His ranking record was the highest-ranking ever held until Magnus Carlsen broke it in 2013. In 1993, Kasparov started the PCA.
The first, and so far, only American world champion, Bobby Fisher, was the 11th world champion between 1972 and 1975. He achieved several records of note, including winning 20 consecutive games against world-class opposition in 1970 and 1971.
Born in Hungary, Judit Polger is often named one of the strongest female chess players. Judit Polger beat many incredible chess players, including Bobby Fisher, Garry Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen. She also broke Bobby Fisher’s record for youngest Grandmaster when she earned the title at 15 years old in 1991.
Chess Grandmasters come from all over the world and have risen to the top of the game through hard work and dedication.
Susan Polgar is the sister of Judit Polgar. She was the top-ranked female chess player in 1984 at the age of 15. In 1991, she was the third woman to earn the title of Grandmaster. Her peak FIDE rating was 2577.
Ding Liren is a Chinese super Grandmaster. He holds the record for the youngest person to win the Chinese Chess Championship at the age of 16. His highest ranking was 2816, which he reached in November of 2021. He held a 100-game winning streak between August 2017 and November 2018.
Born in Iran in 2003, Alireza Firouzja is a Grandmaster, two-time Iranian champion, and the reigning European Fisher Random champion. As of 2021, he is the youngest player in the world who rates above 2700 and ranks in the top 15 world chess players.
At the age of 14, Hou Yifan earned the title of Grandmaster. As of early 2022, she still holds the record of youngest female Grandmaster. In 2010, she broke the record for youngest women’s world champion at 16. While she still plays chess, she also became a professor at Shenzen University in 2020.
When Fabiano Caruana became a Grandmaster at the age of fourteen years and eleven months, he was the youngest person in the history of the United States and Italy to do so. During his career, he has played for both countries. His highest rating was 2844 in October of 2014.
At 17, Maia Chiburdanidze became the youngest-ever women’s world champion in 1978. She remained champion for thirteen years. In 1984 she earned her Grandmaster title. She reached her highest rating of 2560 in 1988. Born in Georgia, Chiburdanidze played for both the USSR and Georgia in the Olympiads.
Aleksandra Goryachkina is a Russian Grandmaster who achieved her title in 2018. She ranks second when it comes to women champions based on her ratings, and she ranks as the fourth most highly-rated woman in chess history. Her peak rating was 2611 in August 2021.
Born in China, Ju Wenjun has been a Grandmaster and the reigning Women’s Champion since May 2018. Her peak rating was 2604 in March of 2017. She has played in many Chess Olympiad events with her team since 2008.
Richard Rapport is a Hungarian chess prodigy. At the age of 13 years and 11 months, he earned his Grandmaster title. His peak rating was 2776 in May of 2022. At that point, he was also the fifth highest-rated player globally.
Ian Alexandrovich Nepomniachtchi became a Russian Grandmaster in 2007. He progressed fairly far in several Chess World Cups. Along with his team, he won the World Team Chess Championships in 2013 and 2019. His peak rating was 2792 in May 2021.
Born in Azerbaijan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov became a Grandmaster in 2002. His peak rating was 2820 in September of 2018. He competes in a range of team and individual competitions. As of May 2022, he is ranked number one in Azerbaijan and number seven in the world.
Born in the Philippines, Wesley So played for both the Philippines and the United States during his career. He was the inaugural World Fischer Random Chess Champion and has retained the title to this day. He became a Grandmaster in 2008. His peak rating was 2822 in February 2017.
Levon Aronian became an Armenian chess Grandmaster at 17 in 2000. While he used to play for Armenia and Germany at different points of his career, he started playing for the United States in 2021. His peak rating was 2830 in March 2014.
Anish Giri is a Grandmaster who has played for both Russia and the Netherlands throughout his career. He became a Grandmaster in 2009 at the age of 14 years and 7 months. His peak rating was 2798 in October of 2015.
In 2003, Hikaru Nakamura became a Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and three months. In of May 2022, he was already a five-time United States champion. He has also competed in several team and individual championships. His peak rating was 2816 as of October 2015. Nakamura is also a well-known chess streamer on Twitch and Youtube.
Vera Menchik was the first female world champion. Unfortunately, she died a few years before the creation of the Grandmaster title. She was the inspiration for the character Elizabeth Harmon, chess player extraordinaire in the popular Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. The Vera Menchik Cup is given out every two years at the Women’s Chess Olympiad.
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