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Who Are The Top 5 World Champions?

Who Are The Top 5 World Champions?

pete
Nov 15, 2016, 12:00 AM 174 Chess Players

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are now battling each other in New York for the world chess championship. While Carlsen is the heavy favorite to retain his title, neither player has been able to break through with a win in the first three games, and the match score is tied at 1.5 apiece heading into game four.

You can follow the world championship live each game on Chess.com/TV, and don't forget to stick around after the game to watch the live ChessCenter recap special with the full ChessCenter team of journalists and contributors (starting at 5 p.m. Pacific time or immediately after the game ends, whichever is later).

If Carlsen is able to win the match, his resume as an all-time great would get even better. But where does he stand now among the world chess champions?

Who are the top five world champions ever?

Based on a debate between ChessCenter anchors IM Daniel Rensch and GM Robert Hess, we broke down the question into two parts: the greatest (most influential) world champions ever, and the strongest (best moves played) ever. The responses were limited to the 16 undisputed and official world chess champions.

We polled the Chess.com editorial staff to answer these important questions, and we even got GM Hikaru Nakamura to fill in his top five for each category. While Chess.com's new CAPS system revealed that the engine says Carlsen is the greatest classical chess player of all time, there is still room for debate. 

All the votes and the overall winners are below, but this debate is just getting started.

Let us know your top five greatest and strongest world chess champions in the comment section, or leave us a note on Facebook.

World champion #16, Magnus Carlsen.

Let's get to the votes.

IM Daniel Rensch, vice president of content and professional relations.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Garry Kasparov
  2. Bobby Fischer
  3. Vishy Anand
  4. Magnus Carlsen
  5. Mikhail Botvinnik

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Magnus Carlsen
  2. Vishy Anand
  3. Garry Kasparov
  4. Vladimir Kramnik
  5. Anatoly Karpov

World champion #13, Kasparov. (All historical chess champion images from Wikipedia.)

FM Mike Klein, director of content.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Bobby Fischer
  2. Garry Kasparov
  3. Anatoly Karpov
  4. Magnus Carlsen
  5. Mikhail Tal

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Garry Kasparov
  2. Magnus Carlsen
  3. Bobby Fischer
  4. Anatoly Karpov
  5. Vishy Anand

Fischer, world champion #11.

Peter Doggers, director of content.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Bobby Fischer
  2. Garry Kasparov
  3. Mikhail Botvinnik
  4. Mikhail Tal
  5. Magnus Carlsen

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Garry Kasparov
  2. Magnus Carlsen
  3. Anatoly Karpov
  4. Bobby Fischer
  5. Vishy Anand

World champion #6, Botvinnik. 

NM Sam Copeland, assistant editor.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Bobby Fischer
  2. Magnus Carlsen
  3. Garry Kasparov
  4. Emanuel Lasker
  5. Jose Capablanca

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Magnus Carlsen
  2. Garry Kasparov
  3. Bobby Fischer
  4. Vladimir Kramnik
  5. Vishy Anand

Lasker, the second world champion.

Shaun "The Real" McCoy, director of support and ChessCenter contributor.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Garry Kasparov
  2. Anatoly Karpov
  3. Bobby Fischer
  4. Mikhail Tal
  5. Tigran Petrosian

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Magnus Carlsen
  2. Garry Kasparov
  3. Vladimir Kramnik
  4. Vishy Anand
  5. Bobby Fischer

Karpov, world champion #12.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, four-time U.S. chess champion and 2016 world championship candidate.

Greatest (most influence on the game) world chess champions:

  1. Mikhail Botvinnik
  2. Garry Kasparov
  3. Jose Capablanca
  4. Alexander Alekhine
  5. Anatoly Karpov

Strongest (best moves played at peak) world chess champions:

  1. Garry Kasparov
  2. Magnus Carlsen
  3. Bobby Fischer
  4. Anatoly Karpov
  5. Vladimir Kramnik

Jose Raul Capablanca, world champion #3. 

So who was the overall winner for greatest world champion?

Bobby Fischer earned that honor, with 50 percent of first-place votes.

As for the strongest world champion ever, it's a dead heat between Garry Kasparov and the reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen.

You can break the tie (and weigh in with your own lists) in the comment section below. 

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