Have you ever wondered who is the greatest player of all time? Could you imagine if we have a time machine, and we could make a match between Fischer and Carlsen? Who would win? Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of device. Carlsen and Wesley So can play more accurate than Capablanca did 100 years ago. That is because they have all the theory, books, and computers behind them. When the great masters of the past could have the same conditions and tools as today’s Grandmasters, then the talent will prevail. If we want to answer who is the greatest chess player of all time, then we should forget about the theory, books, computers and focus on who were the most talented and gifted players.
Mikhail Tal was a Soviet Latvian chess Grandmaster and the eighth World Chess Champion. Widely regarded as a creative genius and the best attacking player of all time, Tal played in a daring, combinatorial style.
Nicolas Rossolimo was an American-French-Greek-Russian chess Grandmaster. In his lifetime he was working as a chess professional, taxi driver, judo expert, and musician. After acquiring Greek citizenship in 1929, he was able to emigrate that year to France, and was many times chess champion of Paris. In 1952 he emigrated to the United States, and won the 1955 U.S. Open Chess Championship. He was a resident of New York City until his death. The strongest players Rossolimo defeated were Efim Bogoljubov, David Bronstein, and former World Champion Max Euwe, against whom he had two wins and a lifetime plus score. He also scored draws against four world champions: José Capablanca, Max Euwe, Bobby Fischer, and Vassily Smyslov. According to the site chessmetrics, which estimates historical ratings of players based on results, his highest ranking was 15th in the world, reached in December 1953. Here is one of Rossolimo’s most celebrated brilliancies. Al Horowitz, the late chess columnist for The New York Times, called this game “a brilliancy of astonishing character, elegant and explosive”.
Nicolas Rossolimo–Paul Reissman, San Juan 1967
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Qb3 Nce7 11.0-0 c6 12.Rfe1 0-0 13.a4 b6? 14.Ne5 Bb7 15.a5 Rc8 16.Ne4 Qc7 17.a6! Ba8 18.Qh3 Nf4 19.Qg4 Ned5 20.Ra3 Ne6 21.Bxd5 cxd5 22.Nf6+ Kh8 (diagram) 23.Qg6!! Qc2 24.Rh3! 1–0
Samuel Herman Reshevsky, (born November 26, 1911, Ozorkow, near Łódź, Poland, Russian Empire [now in Poland]—died April 4, 1992, Suffern, New York, U.S.), American chess master who was an outstanding player though he never won a world championship. Reshevsky learned to play chess when he was about 4 years old. A child prodigy, he gave exhibitions at age 6 and achieved master strength by the time he was about 9. He was brought with his family to the United States in 1920; shortly thereafter his chess activity was restricted until he had completed his formal education. In 1933 he received a degree in accounting from the University of Chicago, and in 1935 he resumed serious international chess. His style of play was tenacious and resourceful, particularly on defense. He wrote two major books, Reshevsky on Chess (1948) and How Chess Games Are Won (1962). He was never a full-time chess professional.
Vera Frantsevna Menchik was a British-Czechoslovak-Russian chess player who gained renown as the world’s first women’s chess champion. She also competed in chess tournaments with some of the world’s leading male chess masters, defeating many of them, including future world champion Max Euwe. Vera Menchik and Judit Polgár are the greatest women talents that history has ever seen.
Robert James “Bobby” Fischer was an American chess grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Many consider him to be the greatest chess player of all time. Some Grandmasters compared Fischer’s play to that of a computer; a player without noticeable weaknesses. Although international ratings were introduced only in 1970, Chessmetrics (a website that uses algorithms to rank performances retrospectively and uniformly throughout chess history) determined that Fischer’s peak rating was 2895 in October 1971—the highest in history. His one-year peak (1971) average was 2881, the highest of all time. His three-year peak average was 2867, from January 1971 to December 1973—the second highest ever, just behind Garry Kasparov. Fischer was ranked as the number one player in the world for a total of 109 different months, running (not consecutively) from February 1964 until July 1974.
5. Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, whom many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months. His peak rating of 2851, achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (15) and Chess Oscars (11).
Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian chess Grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion. A chess prodigy, Carlsen earned his Grandmaster title in 2004, at the age of 13 years and 148 days. From a young age, was clear that he was a very gifted child with an impressive intellectual ability. At 2 years old, Magnus could solve 50-piece jigsaw puzzles and at 4, he skilfully made constructions out of Lego pieces intended for 10-14 year olds. By the age of 5, his father (Henrik Carlsen) introduced him to chess, though he showed little interest at the time. Instead he choose to apply himself to memorizing the areas, population, flags and capital cities of all the countries in the world.
3.Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Harry Nelson Pillsbury (December 5, 1872 – June 17, 1906) was a leading American chess player. He learned to play chess at 16, and only after 5 years of practice he could win against any player in the world including the world champion. At the age of 22, he won one of the strongest tournaments of the time (the Hastings 1895 chess tournament) but his illness and early death prevented him from challenging for the World Chess Championship. Pillsbury had an even record against Lasker (+5−5=4), a feat matched or surpassed by few. Pillsbury also had an even score against Steinitz (+5−5=3). Pillsbury was a very strong blindfold chess player, and could play checkers and chess simultaneously while playing a hand of whist, and reciting a list of long words. His maximum was 22 simultaneous blindfold games at Moscow 1902. Before his simultaneous chess exhibitions, Pillsbury would entertain his audience with feats of memory that involved accurately recalling very long lists of words after hearing or looking at them just once.
2.José Raúl Capablanca
José Raúl Capablanca (19 November 1888 – 8 March 1942) was a Cuban chess player who was world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. A chess prodigy, he is considered by many as one of the greatest players of all time, widely renowned for his exceptional endgame skill and speed of play. As an adult, Capablanca lost only 34 serious games. Remarkably, in active tournament competition from 1916 until 1924, Capablanca did not lose a single game.
Capablanca is giving a simultaneous display on thirty boards in Berlin, June 1929
Paul Charles Morphy, (born June 22, 1837, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.—died July 10, 1884, New Orleans), American chess master who, during his public career of less than two years, became the world’s leading player. Acclaimed by some as the most brilliant player of all time, he was first to rely on the now-established principle of development before attack. Morphy learned chess at the age of 10. At 19 he was admitted to the Louisiana bar on condition that he not practice law until coming of age. After winning the first American chess championship tournament at New York City in 1857, he traveled to Europe, where he defeated Adolf Anderssen of Germany, the unofficial world champion, and every other master who would face him—the leading English player, Howard Staunton, avoided a match with him. In Paris Morphy played blindfolded against eight strong players, winning six games and drawing two. He returned to the United States in 1859 and issued a challenge, offering to face any player in the world at odds of pawn and move (where Morphy would play Black, thus giving up the first move, and would play minus one pawn). When there was no response, Morphy abandoned his public chess career. Should we say that 160 years ago there were no chess books, chess schools, chess theory, computers, and still Morphy played with great accuracy and brilliancy?