The Greatest Chess Players Of All Time

Over the thousands of years that chess has been played, a few key players have emerged as the greatest chess players of all time. Each of these players has demonstrated mastery of the game by beating Grand Masters and other chess champions. While some are notable for ground-breaking games they have played, others are great for their skill, ingenuity and unshakable concentration.

Paul Morphy

Paul Morphy (June 22, 1837 to July 10, 1884) was an American chess master who won the famous chess match known as the “Opera Game.” Played at the Paris Opera Box in 1858, the Opera Game pitted Morphy against two amateur opponents: the Count of Isouard and The Duke of Brunswick.

After 17 moves, Morphy successfully checkmated his opponents with a simple yet elegant bishop-rook attack. Hailed for his clarity and brilliance, Morphy is one of the greatest chess players of all time. Today, chess students around the world study the Opera Game to learn how to effectively develop pieces while attacking the opponent.

Adolf Anderssen

Adolf Anderssen (July 6, 1818 to March 13, 1979) is esteemed for his clever use of sacrifice to win matches. The most famous example of this “sacrifice for positioning” chess strategy is the Immortal Game. Played on June 21, 1851 at the Simpson’s-in-the-Strand Divan in London, the Immortal Game pitted German chess master Anderssen against Lionel Kieseritzky, a fellow German chess master.

Anderssen, considered at the time to be the reigning world chess champion, won the game by making major sacrifices, such as his queen and rook, to get other pieces in key positions. In the end, Anderssen beat Kieseritzky with only three pieces still on the board.

Garry Kasparov

Russian Garry Kasparov (born April 13, 1963) is an amazingly skillful chess player honored for his superiority in difficult situations.

For example, Kasparov’s match against Deep Blue, an IBM-built chess computer, marked the first time in history that a computer beat a chess master. Kasparov’s tournament against Deep Blue included a series of five games played on February 10, 1996 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time, Kasparov was the reigning World Chess Champion.

While Deep Blue successfully beat Kasparov twice, this great chess champion did win the tournament by winning three games.

Another great example of Kasparov’s remarkable skill and unshakeable concentration came three years later in 1999 when he challenged the whole world to a chess match online. About 50,000 players from 75 countries stepped up to the challenge.

Played through MSN Gaming Zone, this world chess game proceeded with Karsparov playing the white pieces and “the world” playing black. “The world” made moves through a voting system so that “the world’s” move was determined by majority vote.

The game lasted a total of 62 moves that spanned four months. While Kasparov ultimately won the game, he later admitted that it was the hardest game of his life.

Bobby Fischer

American Bobby Fischer (March 9, 1943 to January 17, 2008) is famous for having been a chess virtuoso ever since he was young. While Fischer first learned chess at the age of 6, he won the United States Junior Chess Championship in July 1956. At age 12, he became the youngest National Chess Master in history. By 15 years old, Fischer was the youngest Grandmaster ever.

In 1972, Fischer competed in “The Cold War Battle” World Chess Championship in which he played Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. Fischer’s win made him the first American to ever win the World Chess Championship.