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The following is a list of World Chess Championships including the hosting cities. Before , the matches were privately organised. After , challengers.
Table of contents
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- Chess World Champions - Chess Only
- 10 Greatest Chess Players of All Time – The Ultimate List
Wilheim Steinitz, after overcame against Johannes Zukertort at that year's London tournament the strongest that time , claimed the World Chess title for him. Anybody officially recognized his title but anybody discussed it either until the year , when Johannes Zukertort won the same tournament of London ahead of Steinitz and proclaims himself as the new World Chess Champion. After tough negotiations between both players, in took place the first officially recognized World Chess Championship. The period of time when each one is considerate as the World Chess Champion is indicated too.
Username Password. World Chess Championship History The World Chess Championship is the tournament that determines the best player of the world of this sport. First World Chess Champions Since 18th century there are registries of great chess players that specially shined over their contemporary opponents, like Ruy Lopez, who deserves a special recognition for his playing quality and his success over the board. Nevertheless, nobody until claimed the World Chess Champion Title. The final result was 10 victories for Steinitz, 5 for Zukertort and 5 draws. The PCA appearance and the posterior title reunification.
I think that being uncategorical helped him to understand chess deeper than everyone else at the time. He defied the dogmas, and everyone thought that he did that to annoy a particular opponent. But Lasker just knew that those dogmas aren't as indisputable as thought. Let's remember his famous f4-f5 move against Capablanca. Lasker understood that the e5 square could be weakened because it's hard to use. But everyone spoke about "psychological approach"! There's no psychology involved, Lasker unearthed a very deep conception that is now used automatically: give away the e5 square, but close off the c8 Bishop.
He understood it earlier and deeper than the others. So there's no psychology involved, Lasker had a very deep positional understanding. Of course, he also had worthy competitors. We shouldn't forget Rubinstein, an incredibly talented, fantastic player. It's a pity that he didn't become a world champion - he understood very many things in chess. Rubinstein would sometimes create true masterpieces, he was way ahead of his time - it's enough to look through his best games to see that. I can't understand why he never had a title shot.
Perhaps he was too nervous, or not a good practition, but his talent was enormous. Lasker was a World Champion for 27 years. He's a truly prominent figure in chess, however, not all worthy candidates could get a World Championship match back then, and sometimes the truly strongest candidates couldn't get a chance.
Capablanca is just a genius. He's an exception that doesn't fit any rule. I can't say that he truly moved chess forward Such a player could appear in absolutely any era, like Morphy: in midth century or in midth. Capablanca had a very subtle understanding of the game's harmony. When I was a kid, I liked his book Capablanca Teaches Chess , because he formulated important rules very simply, clearly and concisely.
Though now I don't think that all his rules were correct. He had a natural talent that, sadly, wasn't cut for hard work. We could hypothetically say that if Capablanca worked on chess as hard as Alekhine or Lasker, he would have gone far ahead. But I think that those two things are mutually exclusive: hard work just doesn't work with this kind of talent. He didn't need that.
Capablanca can be compared with Mozart, whose music as though composed itself. It sometimes seemed that Capablanca didn't even know why he made one move or the other, he just moved pieces with his hand. If he worked hard on his chess, his playing could have worsened because he'd begin thinking some things through. And Capablanca didn't need to think anything through, he just had to move pieces! They say that he lost to Alekhine because he didn't work hard enough.
No, he did the right thing by not working, because he'd lose a piece of his unique talent otherwise. Capablanca was special. In , he defeated Lasker. By the way, Lasker didn't play too bad in that match, he still retained big practical strength. I think it was the first World Championship match where both opponents played very strongly. This was a true World Championship match. Capablanca was younger, more energetic and a tad stronger. In the last game, Lasker blundered horribly, but before that, there was a very interesting equal struggle, tight, tenacious.
In Lasker's previous World Championhip matches, he either destroyed his opponents, or there was a lot of mistakes, like in the match against Schlechter. But in the Capablanca - Lasker match, there are few mistakes, the games were very serious. Lasker is great, and Capablanca is a natural genius.
To be honest, it's incredible that Alekhine managed to beat him. It's thought that Alekhine's diligence helped him.
And also his character and willpower Of course, Alekhine had incredible talent as well. And still, it's hard to say why he defeated Capablanca. Perhaps he was destined to do so. I agree with Kasparov: Capablanca couldn't withstand heavy pressure. Against Lasker, he attacked, and his opponent defended.
Lasker did lash out time to time, but largely he defended. And Alekhine didn't just withstand, he thrived under pressure and even increased it. Most likely, Capablanca cracked under enormous tension. He was used to playing relaxedly in tournaments, drawing games, winning some because of his outstanding talent, resting, drinking some wine - life's good! And suddenly, there's enormous tension. The match was very long, the games were serious and combative.
Alekhine was constantly trying to create some problems for the champion. Is Alekhine really the first player who embraced modern opening preparation? Alekhine is a tremendous worker. He had strategical talent, he was the first one who felt game dynamics very subtly. Lasker started to understand dynamics' importance, but his playing wasn't based on them - he just remembered about them and occasionally used them. And Alekhine used dynamics as his main tool, and in this regard, he was the pioneer.
He showed that it's possible - if you still conform to certain positional principles, of course - to steer the game towards the dynamic path. Not seeking some long-term advantages, but creating a net of sorts from the very first moves, making threats with every move, attacking. In late s - early s Alekhine also was way ahead of everyone else. Or not so ahead as Lasker in his time? I think that there was an "empty time" of sorts. Capablanca didn't play too often; neither he nor Lasker played in the tournaments that ended with Alekhine's dominant wins.
Botvinnik and Keres weren't strong enough yet, and the old masters passed their peak already. Of course, Alekhine was an outstanding world champion, but I think that his advantage was mainly due to that "empty time". I wouldn't say that in those tournaments he played any differently than in the Capablanca match. Of course, Alekhine did enrich his game a bit, he became more experienced, but I don't think he innovated much.
Why didn't he get so much ahead before the Capablanca match, and then got ahead after? To be honest, I don't see any chess reasons for that. The Euwe matches showed that. Some think that he didn't deserve the crown and won it almost accidentally. Euwe is a very good player. They say that Botvinnik was the founder of the modern preparation system, but I'd say that Euwe was the first. He understood the importance of opening and prepared brilliantly.
Also, he knew how to develop opening ideas. Alekhine did work very hard, but would often bluff and use very dubious openings, even, to my astonishment, in very important games. So he either didn't think that the opening was dubious or hoped to outplay his opponent anyway. Euwe's opening preparation was very solid and reasonable.
He was very strong in the openings.
Also he was the first to invite other leading grandmasters, like Flohr, as his seconds Euwe's approach was very competent and professional. He was a versatile enough player.
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He didn't have a concrete playing style, so it's hard to evaluate him, and that's why he's underrated. He's very "slippery", it's hard to "grasp" him and study his style. Euwe was universal. I couldn't completely understand his style myself. Perhaps his main idea was to combine various components. Also, he had a good nervous system and a healthy approach to life.
He was a very calm and balanced man. All those things led to him becoming the champion, and deservedly so. He won a normal match against Alekhine. Yes, Alekhine was a bit out of shape. But it's not true that he was out of shape for the whole match. He fought furiously, and in the beginning of the match, his playing was brilliant. So we can't say that Alekhine prepared badly. But at some moment, Euwe started outplaying him, and something broke inside Alekhine, he began to drink a bit There are some different reasons in play - psychology, perhaps, or something else.
Bad form didn't play a role. In the openings, Euwe didn't "grip" him outright, but kept the tensions high. Capablanca would defend in the openings against Alekhine, who already had a reputation of a well-learned player. And Euwe fought him in the openings, and would often win those fights.
Not even in some concrete variants - sometimes even conceptually. For instance, Euwe won the battle in the Slav defence, used by both with both colours. I read a book about the return match - again, it was completely equal. Some think that Alekhine easily returned the crown. Like, he lost the first match due to drinking, then quit drinking and won. This is completely false. The return match was even, like the first one. In the first match, Alekhine suddenly "broke", and in the second, Euwe was the one to "break", losing several games in a row.
What happened to him? Perhaps subconsciously, Euwe didn't want to remain the World Champion, the pressure from the title was too much for him. Still, I think that everything that happens happens for a reason, but nevertheless the myth of Alekhine easily winning the return match should be dispelled. And so, we came to Mikhail Botvinnik - the first World Champion you knew personally. Botvinnik, of course, was a herald of the new era in chess.
I would call him the first true professional, the first man who understood that chess results don't depend on chess skill alone. He was the first to embrace complex preparation for the competitions: not only openings, but sleeping regime, physical exercises - he was obviously a pioneer in that regard. It's funny for a modern player to read about the Alekhine - Euwe match, for instance: games were postponed, one player drank a glass of wine, the other had an important business meeting right before the game Nothing of the sort could happen with Botvinnik. It may sound strange, but I think that he was an unstable player.
His best games were played on a very high level, but some games were just disastrous. I don't know why.
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I had an impression that he played with some difficulty, giving all he's got in every game. It seems that such colossal tension did take its toll time to time and led to disasters. Even though Botvinnik was called "iron" Did such disasters happen with Botvinnik in his youth, or only in a more advanced age, after big hiatuses? I think that they always happened. Not tournament disasters though such things happened as well , but disasters in individual games. Even in World Championship matches, he would just "fall apart" in a couple of games.
I saw that, but I don't know the reason. I just wanted to accentuate the moment that often gets overlooked. Anyway, it's not that important, considering the number of truly outstanding games he played. Botvinnik unearthed many conceptual ideas in chess. There was an opinion that Botvinnik won because of his character and willpower, while some of his opponents had greater pure chess talent.
I can agree with this to a degree. On the other hand, talent cannot exist without all other components. Talent is something elusive. There are chess players that don't achieve particularly good results, but people say that they're very talented. Such phenomenon does indeed exist. But I think that in chess, like in all other occupations, talent is only one of many necessary components. And perhaps it's not so much more important than, say, character. So, when you say something like "He's a talented man, but didn't achieve much because he had a weak personality", this actually doesn't mean much.
Perhaps Botvinnik wasn't as talented as Capablanca, but he achieved great heights in other components - in willpower, in preparation, and it's not easier to achieve that. He was a genius in those components. So, all I've said doesn't diminish Botvinnik's legacy as a chess player: potential is one thing, but realizing this potential is something else entirely.
Botvinnik's chess career is essentially a genius' career, even though I think he wasn't a genius. Did Botvinnik make a step ahead from a purely chess point of view, compared to his predecessors? He unearthed many conceptual things. But, as blasphemous as it sounds, I don't think that he really advanced chess, didn't innovate much in the game itself.
However, his contribution to game preparation is enormous. Still, it depends on individual taste whether to consider preparation an element of game itself or not. I think that preparation is a part of the game. And if we compare Botvinnik to Capablanca - and Capablanca was much more talented, he was a chess genius - then Botvinnik's contribution to chess is much greater.
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What impression did the Patriarch leave on the young Volodya Kramnik? Very, very good. I know that he was a controversial figure, and his colleagues had legitimate reasons to dislike him. I heard various opinions, but I don't want to comment on them; I don't want to avoid the question at all, but I wasn't born in the times I was told about, and didn't see anything of that with my own eyes, so it's hard for me to give any kind of meaningful commentary. I knew Botvinnik only in his last years, and he left a very good impression on me.
I'd like to point out a moment that seemed quite strange to me: discrepancies between his beliefs and his nature. Botvinnik was a staunch Communist; it was obvious that he gave these matters much thought and honestly believed in communistic ideals. And yet, he was a very intelligent man, with manners of some old-time St.
Petersburg professor that had nothing in common with the post-revolutionary Russia. How could he be an ardent Communist and a true intelligent at the sime time is puzzling for me. This discrepancy perplexed me. The Soviet intelligentsia, as a rule, paid their dues to the ideals of Communism only formally - those were the unwritten rules.
Of course, Botvinnik was very categorical.
This was his strength, without a doubt; I think that with his personality, he just couldnt' help but be categorical. But in relationships, this was almost certainly detrimental, so Botvinnik had many fallouts with people. He is Smyslov is a player who plays very correctly, truthfully, with a very natural style. Why, by the way, isn't there any kind of mystic aura around him, like around Tal or Capablanca? Because Smyslov isn't a chess artist, his playing isn't bright or artistic.
But I like his style very much. I'd recommend the children who want to learn chess to study Smyslov's games. Because he was playing like it was needed; his style is the closest to some virtual "chess truth". He was trying to play the strongest move in any position, and it's possible that by sheer amount of strongest moves, he's way ahead of many other World Champions.
As a professional, I like him for that. I know that amateurs are more interested in mistakes, ups and downs. But from a purely professional point of view, I think that Smyslov is very underrated. He got all components of his playing to a very high level. Smyslov was a brilliant endgame player, and his games sometimes looked like songs. When I look through his games, there's an impression of easiness, as though his hand made the moves by itself, and Smyslov didn't strain himself at all, drinking coffee or reading a newspaper! Almost a Mozart-like easiness! No strain, no tension, everything is simple, but brilliant.
That's why I like Smyslov and his games. Smyslov and Botvinnik played almost games against each other, including three World Championship matches. Is the quality of those games still good by modern standards? Yes, these games were of true quality. Of course, there were mistakes because the matches were long, but the overall playing level is very high. They did blunder occasionally, but I don't think that this should influence the overall evaluation.
The average move strength was very high. The opponents were worthy of each other? Yes, the struggle was more or less even, even though their approaches to chess were different. It's a pity that Smyslov didn't remain a World Champion for long, because I think that he's a very outstanding player. He played a Candidates' Final at the age of 63! This alone shows that he was a player of the highest calibre. The energetic players can't keep up their performance levels at such an advanced age, so Smyslov's playing wasn't based on energy, pressure and character - he deeply understood chess.
Botvinnik's playing, despite his exceptional skills, declined when he approached 60, though he did keep up performances for long. But Smyslov's phenomenon is just uncomparable. Did Smyslov play like others before him? No, he played different chess, his own. He was a master of positional games, a much stronger positional player than his predecessors. At openings and tactics, he was very good, but not better than that. Smyslov didn't have any incredible conceptual ideas, but he played with filigree precision. I think that he was the first "ultra-clean" player. Smyslov was, more or less, the founder of the style that was later developed by Karpov: gradual increasing of positional pressure, based on calculating short variants with great precision.
I didn't know Tal almost at all, but I was lucky to play a couple of games against him. In , there was a strong open tournament in Moscow, where Tal played. I felt sorry for him because he looked terribly. We didn't play in the tournament proper, but in an off-day, the organizers held blitz and rapid 15 minutes tournaments. I drew him in blitz, and even won the rapid game: Tal sacrificed one piece, then another one without much compensation; he was just resting and having fun, so the result has no meaning here.
Tal still played very strongly when he concentrated. And he performed very well in the blitz tournament - we shared second place. I was 15 at the time, didn't play particularly strong, but my head was thinking very quickly. And the blitz tournament was quite strong: 10 grandmasters, one international master and me, FIDE master. I remember one moment from my game against Tal. In a complicated and roughly equal position we both had half a minute or so.
I made my move and saw that now my opponent had a very subtle and non-obvious tactic. There's too little time, we're literally playing with our hands. And Tal immediately played that tactical move, and my position became hopeless! I wasn't amazed - still, it was Tal, even though a gravely ill Tal A lesser player wouldn't find this tactic even in a classical game. Still, the flags were falling, and the game ended with a perpetual check. Tal is a star, a true chess genius. As far as I understand, he had no ambitions at all. He played just for fun, enjoying himself and the game.
This approach is completely unprofessional. But his talent was so incredible that even with this amateurish approach Tal became a World Champion. As a kid, I didn't study too many of his games: as I said, there weren't that many chess books in our provincial town. When I grew up, I looked through his games, of course. And I can say that he is actually very strong positional player, even though everyone thinks of him as a tactician. Yes, he had superb tactical vision, but Tal, as any chess player of such level, had many facets.
In late 's and early 's he had a second wave of successes, he played very strict positional chess and won many positional games. It's said that he was influenced by working with Karpov. I don't think so. Of course, working with Karpov did help Tal in a way, because it distracted Tal from, well, other, non-chess pleasures in life.
He worked and studied chess instead. But still, I don't think that this collaboration is the only reason - Tal is just an outstanding and versatile chess player. Of course, his approach to chess did play a role. If he had Botvinnik's character, it would be just impossible to defeat him. But perhaps one just cannot have both - only one or the other? Yes, one cannot. This is another important moment worthy of discussion: there are no chess players without weaknesses. Their weaknesses are more or less born of their strengths. It's impossible to combine Tal's and Botvinnik's chess strengths, because they are more or less mutually exclusive.
Tal's talent, his approach to game, ease, great creative energy - all this gave him enormous advantages, but this also led to his weaknesses. I think it's impossible to remain a World Champion for, say, 15 years with such an approach. This is a bright flash, a star that rose and fell, and it seems that there's no other way for such people. Metaphorically speaking, this star radiated so much energy that it couldn't keep it up for many years in a row, it just burned out. It's hard to talk about Tal because he's unusual, very bright, he's a natural phenomenon. I'm absolutely sure that if he didn't take up chess, he would become great in something else.
He was very sharp and bright. If he was a scientist, he'd probably win a Nobel Prize. Tal was out of this world. Many people that knew him personally said that he had nothing in common with homo sapiens. He was an alien! And his chess were alien as well. Discussing his chess is like discussing how God looks like.
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The next World Champion is more terrestrial? Yes, very terrestrial and down-to-earth. You have to study Petrosian's legacy very deeply to truly understand him. He is, how to say it better, very "hidden". We can say that Petrosian is the first Defender with a capital D.
He was the first to demonstrate that it was possible to defend almost any position. Petrosian brought the defensive element to chess, the element that gains more and more prominence now. He showed that chess is the game with a lot of resources, including defensive resources. Petrosian is a very deep and hard to understand player. I think that he's presented wrongly. He is one of the very few players that I couldn't get a clear impression about after studying his best games. Petrosian is somewhat enigmatic. He was a brilliant tactician and a brilliant strategist.
But his positional playing wasn't on par with, say, Smyslov. However, it's thought for some reason that Petrosian is a master of positional game.