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The 5 Most Overrated Chess Players Ever

The 5 Most Overrated Chess Players Ever

Pete
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447 | Fun & Trivia

The chess media has used a lot of ink and pixels to lavish praise on the greatest chess players of all time.

We've got articles for the best world champion ever, the five most dangerous players ever, the 10 best players of all time, the best chess players of all time according to our own CAPS (Accuracy Scores), the 12 most interesting players in history and even the best eight American chess players ever—where someone foolishly ranked a neural-network in the top spot.

But what about the opposite? The players who were overrated. The players who might not deserve the laurels bestowed upon them by their contemporaries and the curve-grader we call history.

It turns out that some of the so-called legends of the game might have been a bit too highly regarded.

Well, not anymore.

Here are the five most overrated chess players in history.

5. Emanuel Lasker

Lasker. Photo: Wikipedia.

Emanuel Lasker was born in some country called "Prussia," which doesn't even exist anymore.

He only held the world championship for a pathetic 27 years. He wrote just eight books about chess despite living to the age of 72—that's barely 12 percent of a single book per year.

Lasker also contributed to high-level theoretical mathematics, but doesn't even have a famous unsolved problem named after him like his contemporary Bernhard Riemann.

Here's Lasker somehow luckboxing his way into a win against Jose Capablanca. He managed to get his rooks on the seventh and eighth ranks, where they were somewhat well-placed, I guess.

4. Mark Taimanov

Taimanov. Photo: Wikipedia.

This guy, best known for losing to Fischer 6-0 in 1972, had to moonlight as a world-class concert pianist just to pay the bills.

Despite living to 90, he spent just 25 years in the world's top 20 chess rankings.

He managed to defeat six world champions over the board (Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky, and Anatoly Karpov), but never even became world champion himself.

Take a look at Taimanov throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Petrosian, hoping something will work. Pathetically, he needs to move his king in the last move of the game to complete the attack.

3. Wilhelm Steinitz

Steinitz. Photo: Wikipedia.

Wilhelm Steinitz was the first official world chess champion and was unbeaten in match play for 32 years, but what have you done for me lately? Steinitz hasn't won a single chess game in the last 120 years.

Steinitz also was responsible for introducing boring, "positionally correct" strategies to chess, which up until that point had been nothing but swashbuckling, romantic, all-out-attacking games. Nice going, nerd!

Here's a game where Steinitz needed two queens to win. How is that even fair?

2. Alexander Alekhine

Alekhine. Photo: Wikipedia.

This joker doesn't even have a high-resolution photo of himself available on Wikipedia. The best he can do is a dismal 600x846. When every "Instagram influencer" is cranking out several high-definition photos per day, this is simply below par.

The opening named for Alexander Alekhine (1.e4 Nf6) results in a disastrous +1.25 evaluation for White after just one move, according to Stockfish. Definitely avoid this opening unless you want to end up like Alekhine.

Alekhine is also the only world champion to die while holding the title, selfishly taking the championship with him to the grave.

Check out this so-called "masterpiece" by Alekhine where he wins with a measly extra pawn in the endgame. Even I can do that sometimes.

1. "NN"

I'm sorry for some old-fashioned plain talk, but this guy does nothing but lose.

You might think it's a recent phenomenon, but a little digging into chess history makes it clear he has been losing for more than 500 years.

Did you know they had chess in 1497? Well, they did—and "NN" was losing even back then.

Why he gets the opportunity to play against brilliant players century after century, I don't know. Most chess fans dream of playing a single game against a grandmaster, and yet "NN" gets to waste top players' time for hundreds of years.

And it continues to this day. Here is Peter Svidler beating "NN" this year in just seven moves. Seven!

This was just a sorry display for a world-famous chess player with half-a-millennium of experience.

"NN," don't take this the wrong way, but it's time to retire.

Can you think of any more overrated players? Let us know in the comments.

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