All-time best chessplayers

Apr 3, 2015, 2:37 AM |

We have dozens of topics in the forums covering this issue.  The various proponents of the great masters like Capablana, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Lasker, Morphy, etc. (notice, in alphabetical order!), enjoy making their hypothetical cases.  I am a Fischer proponent, but I thoroughly appreciate the efforts made by others.

I have made mention in previous blogs the work by Prof. Arad Elo in his analysis and "retro-rating" of historical chess greats who largely predated his rating system.  I put a great deal of stock in the statistical method used by Elo, and by some of his successors.  It must be noted, however, statistical approaches can only measure wins, losses, and draws, and do not take into account the playing conditions and drama many individual games engender.

I think it is fair to note, that in statistical analysis, the larger the number of games played by an individual, the more confidence we have in the assigned rating.  And, it seems to me that long-ago results have a greater degree of uncertainty due to the incomplete nature of the data.










With that said, in this blog, I present the work of Jeff Sonas at (  His complete lists include 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, and 20-year average peak performance ratings and rankings.  They can be found at the link above.

I will post the "Top-10" for each of the first 6 categories listed in separate posts below.  The data is calculated based on a calendar year, rather than a 12-month (or multiple) span (note: a players best 12 months, for instance, might overlap parts of two years).  These lists are made for the purpose of discussion and education, and represent calculations through 2005.