Chess World Champions: Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen is the current World Chess Champion. He was born on 30November 1990in Norway.Carlsen showed an aptitude for intellectual challenges at a very young age. Carlsen learned how to play chess at the age of 5 when his father introduced him to the game.

Through his early chess career,Carlsen developed his talent quickly. The 13-year-old Carlsen drew Garry Kasparov and defeated Anatoly Karpov  in 2004, and a month later, became the second-youngest Grand Master in history. In 2009, he became the youngest player to cross the 2800 rating threshold. In the subsequent year  he earned the no. 1 world ranking by becoming the youngest person ever to achieve such masterstrokes. Carlsen’s peak classical rating of 2882 is the highest in history. Carlsen became World Chess Champion in 2013 by defeating ViswanathanAnand. Though Carlsen was less experienced than Anand, he handled the pressure with ease making him the 16th World Chess Champion.

Magnus Carlsenwon the world title and has successfully defended it three times against Anand (2012), Sergey Karjakin (2016) and Fabiano Caruana (2018) respectively. Moreover, he had won multiple world titles in rapid (twice) , blitz (four times) and several elite chess championships.

Carlsen is a flexible player who can play in any given position, and  ideas flow from him  “naturally”, says Anand. Kasparov was also impressed in his ability to correctly evaluate any position. Carlsen has an excellent memory and has played a wide range of openings. He uses a variety of openings  like 1.d4  1.e4, and  1.c4, and sometimes 1.Nf3,to make it more difficult for opponents to prepare against him. He has stated that middle game is his favourite part since it "comes down to pure chess". 

 Carlsen is known for his endgame prowess. He often uses the combined force of his skill to drive his opponents into errors, described by John Speelman as “Carlsen effect”. He adds that Carlsen plays calmly without fear, which helps him to find the "very best" moves on board.


Chess World Champions: Viswanathan Anand

ViswanathAnand was born on December 1969 in Chennai, India. Anand is a five time world champion, who held the title for around 6 years until 2013. Even in the younger age, he dreamt of becoming a chess champion. By the time he was 14, he became National sub-junior champion. At the age of 16 he won National Chess Championship.
Anand became first GM from India in 1988. He received the Padma Shri award(a prestigious civilian award in India) at the age of 18. In 2006, he crossed the Elo rating of 2800. He was crowned as an undisputed world champion in 2007, successfully defended the title in 2008, 2010, 2012 against the players VladimarKramnik, VeselinTopalov and Boris Gelfand respectively.
Anand is known as a “natural” and “intuitive” player and also is praised for his “tactical calculation”. He is an active and a serious player even in his 50’s when most of the top players of his age have retired from chess. Anand productively maintained his post champion career and retains a regular top-10 presence in the rating list. He was a candidate for the 1993 world championship as well as for the 2016 world championship.
Anand’s success had led to the rise in popularity of chess in India and provides an impetus to the emerging young GM’s in India. He earned an early reputation as one of the  quickestplayers of chess. In the year 2003 and 2017, he has won the World Rapid Championship. As a quick and  accurate chess player he is known as the “Lightning Kid” among his generation.
Anand was the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award(1991-1992),the highest award given to a sportsperson in India.  He was awarded India's two major prestigious civilian awards, the Padma Vibhushan(2007) and Padma Bhushan(2000). He wrote several books includingMind Master (2019), VishyAnand- World Chess Champion: Life and Games(2012).  His book, My Best Games of Chess(1998) won the British Chess Federation’s “Book of the Year”Award.

Chess World Champions: Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov (GarriKimovich Kasparov) was born in Azerbaijan, (then Soviet Union) in 1963. He began playing chess at the age of 6. Kasparov became interested in the game after solving a chess problem set by his parents. By the age of 13, he was the Soviet youth champion and became a Grand Master in 1980. 

Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 in the year 1986, the position he reigned for 20 years, until his retirement in 2005. His peak rating of 2851(1999), was the highest recorded rating of the century. Kasparov also holds records for most consecutive professional tournament victories (15) and isthe highest recipient of Chess Oscars (11).

In 1984, Kasparov became the No. 1 ranked player in the world, with a FIDE rating of 2710. In 1985 World Championship at Moscow, Kasparov won the 24th game against Karpov, thus crowning as the youngest  champion in the history of chess. Kasparov's win as Black in the 16th game has been recognized as one of the masterpieces in the history of chess.Even though he lost the title to Kramnik in 2000, he continued winning tournaments and was the world's highest-rated player when he retired from professional chess career. In 1996 Kasparov vs. Deep Blue, an IBM custom-built chess computer attracted worldwide attention.

In post-retirement days, he devoted his time to politics and writing. He formed the United Civil Front movement promoting and defending liberal democracy. Kasparov is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and chairs its International Council. 

Kasparov retired from competitive chess in 2005 but continued as a coach. Kasparov continued to participate in exhibition matches and he gave training to other players including Carlsen and Anand. Kasparov coached Magnus Carlsenfor a year in which the latter’s FIDE rating rose above 2,800.

The tournament money that he earned was given to charities and to promote chess in Africa. Kasparov was presented with the UN Watch's annual human-rights prize, in 2013.

He publishedhis autobiography, Child of Change, later retitled as Unlimited Challenge. He wrote  awide range of books about chess, history and politics. Fighting Chess: My Games and Career, How Life Imitates Chess and many other books are to his credit.

He is the author of a series of books, Kasparov on My Great Predecessors (2003–06),that cover all the WorldChess Champions from Wilhelm Steinitz to Karpov, as well as many other great players.


Chess World Champions: Bobby Fischer


Robert James Fischer(1943-2008), the eleventh World chess Champion (1972-1975) was born in America. His sister taught him the moves of chess when he was 6 years old. Later, he developed the habit of spending time alone to play chess. At the age of 15, he became the youngest player then to crown the title of a grandmaster.

In 1958, he captured the first of his eight United States Championships, to become the youngest person ever to hold the title. He became the only player ever to earn a perfect score at an American championship, winning all the 11 games in the tournament. He dropped out of school at 16, to devote himself fully into chess. In order to master the literature of the game and to read different chess periodicals, Fischer taught himself  several languages.

 Bobby defeated International Master  DonaldBryne when he was only 13 years old which called for his international acclaim. This game is widely analysed and talked about for his queen sacrifice and the brilliant move Be6 which unleashed counterattack accompanied by a brilliant combination on board. He won the brilliancy prize for his game, which is admired even now in the history of chess.

He popularised risky strategies in the opening games like the white sacrificing the kingside pawn in  King’s Gambit to unleash a quick attack. In the year 1964  Fischer used it in a game against the grandmaster Larry Evans at the U.S Championship. The 1964 tournament produced another legendary game, the “Game of the Century” which is one of the best games ever played by a junior player.

As a ‘brilliant’ player, he is known for his ‘original thinking’ and the commitment he had for chess. His brilliant games and tactics in chess drew the attention of the American public to the game of chess especially following the year he won the world championship. The former world champion, Garry Kasparov stated that Fischer’s contribution was the most revolutionary and made chess more professional. Fischer wrote a book, My 60 Memorable Chess Games (1969) which is a classic collection of his games.

Chess World Champions: Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail MoiseyevichBotvinnik (1911-1995) was a Soviet and Russian Grand master and former world chess champion. According to him, he was a ‘Jew by birth, Russian by culture and Soviet by upbringing’. He held the world champion title for 15 years from 1948-63, with a short breakbetween 1957 and 1960. He is known as the father of the Soviet Chess School. In 1927 he qualifiedfor USSR championship by becomingthe youngest player ever to play the tournament. In the same year, he earned the National Master title. The Leningrad Championshipwas won by him in 1930 which becamehis first major title.

At the age of 14, he defeated the world champion, José RaúlCapablancain an exhibition tournament. Later, he became a serious challenger for the title which was held by Alekhine. With the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946, the FIDE took control of the World Championship. As a result, hewas invited along with other best world players like VassilySmyslov, Paul Keres, Reuben, Samuel Reshevsky, and Dr Max Euwe for the  Tournament (1948). He won the world championshipand becamethe sixthworld chess champion.He was defeated by Smyslov in 1957 and by Mikhail Tal in 1960, but heregained his title within one year in both cases.However, helost the title to TigranPetrosian in 1963.  

He attempted to create situations with a long-lasting positional edge rather than focussing only ontactics to secure a long term positional advantage.Heestablished a modern approach for training young players for competitive chess, especially in Russia.  Hence he is known as the Patriarch of the Soviet Chess School. His method of training included opening preparation, adequate physical and mental exercise, deep calculation practices, and training of accurate endgame techniques.

In 1963, he founded his chess school which produced three world champions Kasparov, Karpov and Kramnik, and several other grandmasters. Hetirelessly helped the Soviets to dominate the chess world from the period 1948 to2000.He is also known as the pioneer of computer chess besides his contribution as a prominent trainer.In 1970, he developed a chess program which exclusively analysed chess games.His One Hundred Selected Games (1951)is a remarkable work.

Chess World Champions: Max Euwe

Max Euwe (1901 – 1981)was the world chess champion from 1935 to 1937.  He was a Dutch chess grandmaster and mathematician.When he was twelve years old he became an active member of the Amsterdam chess club. He won the Dutch Championship for the first time in August 1921. He won all the Dutch chess championships that he contested from 1921 to 1952 and won 12 titles that marked a record in his time.In 1932, he secured the second position along with Flohr, after Alekhine, at a major tournament in Bern. This established Euwe and Flohr as contenders for the World Championship.

 In 1933, Alekhine challenged him for a championship match that was to be held in 1935.Next year he defeated Alekhine in a game at Zurich.During 1933-34, he was drawn more towards Mathematics. As a professor of mathematics, teaching duties often induced in him difficulties to concentrate on tournaments. However, in 1935, he defeated Alekhine with a score of 15½–14½ ,  thus becoming the fifth World Chess Champion.But he lost the title to Alekhine two years later in a rematch, which was held in Netherlands.The reigning world champion of the time, Alekhine’s death in 1946 resulted in a five-player tournament in 1948, organised by FIDE for the selection of the next World Chess Champion. However, Euwe lost the championship title to Botvinnik..

After earning a doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Amsterdam, he focused his research on chess theory. Moreover, he hypothesized that Mathematics could provide him with a logical and precise approach to the game. He widely published mathematical analysis of the game.

When he was the World Champion he changed many conventions of the world chess championship.  The rights to organise World Championship matches was composed and given to FIDE (the World Chess Federation).   Since 1970, he served as the president of FIDE for 8 years. Even at the age of 69, he travelled extensively to popularize chess and to increase the membership of FIDE. He is known for his  opening theory and  logical approach to games.