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The Best Chess Players from A-Z: Part 1 - Letters A to F

The Best Chess Players from A-Z: Part 1 - Letters A to F

Rodgy
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Today is the start of a new blog series, my latest series was The Pros and Cons Series where I covered the pros and cons of three different topics. That was a 3-part series and more blogs may be added to that collection but today is the start of a 5-part series where I will be covering the best chess players from letters, A-Z. Inspiration and the way the player changed the game is also a factor. I will be going by the player's last name and for each letter, I will be discussing the player's best player's whose names start with that letter and then going deep into the best player of each letter. Enjoy!

Letter A: Alexander Alekhine

This one is a very tough decision between Alexander Alekhine and Vishwanathan Anand.  Alekhine was the fourth official world champion and held the title for 19 years! He defeated Capablanca but in 1946 he passed away as the world champion. Anand is only a five-time world champion (which is far less than Alekhine) but he made a huge impact and inspired many players. Although his stats come up short to Alekhine and this is about the best player, not the most influential. Anand was able to use computers while Alekhine had none of that. This is why he is the best player whose surname starts with the Letter A. 

Alexander Alekhine in his match against Capablanca, this picture was taken when he was young.

Alexander Alekhine was born in Moscow on October 31st, 1892. He is easily one of the greatest players of all time and has held the title for the second-longest time behind Lasker. He was a very tactical player and was able to handle complex positions and was also one of the best in the endgames. He also has his own opening named after him the Alekhine's Defense (e4, Nf6). He won his first world championship match against Capablanca. This was shocking since Alekhine had never beaten Capablanca before. Alekhine has inspired many players even Garry Kasparov who is arguably the greatest player of all time. He also wrote a book of his best chess games and is no doubt a top 10 player of all time. He definitely deserves this spot but before we move on, let's see some of his best game and a few fun tactics from his games.

Letter B: Mikhail Botvinnik

This one is an easy decision. Botvinnik is the only world chess champion whose last name starts with the letter B. There are a lot of strong players whose last name starts with the letter B (Such as Bronstein) but none of them have touched Botvinnik's level. There is no doubt that Botvinnik is a top 10 player of all time. He is obviously the best chess player whose surname starts with the letter B. 

Mikhail Botvinnik shakes hand with Mikhail Tal two of the top 10 chess players of all time in the same photo.

Mikhail Botvinnik was born in Repino, Russia on August 17th, 1911. He was the world champion for almost 15 years and he is also known as one of the fathers of the Soviet Chess School. He taught many future world champions such as Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, and Vladimir Kramnik. Botvinnik didn't really have a style but he was very solid and more of a long-term player and he could change his style depending on his opponents. Botvinnik learned the game when he was 12! (I'm not even 12 yet!) Although two years later he beat Capablanca in a simul! He rapidly improved and won his first Soviet Championship in 1931 only around 8 years after he started. After Alekhine's death, Botvinnik won the qualifying tournament which made him the World Champion. He lost the title in 1963 and created a chess school which many future world champions would attend. Let's take a look at his best game (Annotated by Kasparov) and some cool tactics from his games.

Letter C: Magnus Carlsen

There really is only two candidates, Carlsen and Capablanca. Capablanca was the third world champion from 1921-1927. For 8 years he was undefeated with 40 wins and 23 draws, although... that's only 63 games. Magnus however never lost for 125 games until he lost to Jan-Krzysztof Duda in the Norway Chess Tournament. Magnus Carlsen became the World Champion in 2013 and is still the current World Champion. I think it's safe to say Carlsen is the best chess player whose last name starts with the letter C. 

Can you guess the tournament that Magnus Carlsen is at? Answer in the comments.

Magnus Carlsen was born in Tonsberg, Norway on November 30th, 1990. You probably have heard of Carlsen, he's the current world champion and many people think he is the GOAT. He became a grandmaster in 2004 and was the second youngest GM in history (at the time). When he was only 13 he drew Garry Kasparov and beat Anatoly Karpov who were both former world champions. He's also the youngest player to reach a rating of over 2800. Magnus's style of play is hard to describe, he's a well-rounded player and can play tactically and positionally. He'll squeeze his opponent until they break and is one of the most if not the most accurate players. He became the World Champion in 2003 and from around November-December, we'll see if he can defend his fourth time. He isn't just the classical world champion, but he has all 3 crowns, he's the world champion in all 3-time controls, many players agree that he is the GOAT. Although let's see his best game (annotated by Peter Heine Nielsen) along with some clever tactics taken from games.

Letter D: Ding Liren

There really is no competition. You could say Mark Dvortskey should win this one since inspiration and the way they changed the game is a huge factor. Although even though Dvortskey's a great author and coach. I would have to go with Ding Liren just because of the rating difference. Before you come at me saying "Wait, Ding Liren's last name starts with an L! Not a D!" Nope. Chinese surnames come first which means that Ding Liren's surname is Ding. Maybe Dubov will be better than Ding but for now, I think Ding Liren is the Best Chess Player with the surname starting with the letter D. 

Ding Liren vs. Fabiano - Caruana Candidates 2020

Ding Liren was born in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China on October 24th, 1992. He is one of the biggest contenders for the World Championship Title although I don't think we'll see him this year facing Magnus Carlsen. Ding Liren won his first Chinese Chess Championship at only 16 the youngest person to win. He has two team gold medals and one individual gold medal at the Chess Olympiad. He had a 100-game unbeaten streak until we saw Magnus Carlsen beat it with 125-games. Ding Liren is only 28-years-old and in 2019, Liren beat Carlsen in the Sinquefield Cup playoffs winning the tournament ahead of world-class grandmasters. Let's see the highest-rated Chinese player in history's best game (annotated by Rustam Kasimdzhanov) along with two clever tactics taken from his games.

Letter E: Max Euwe

Again, very little competition here. He is the only player whose surname starts with the letter E who became world champion. There are very few players whose surname starts with the letter E that you can think of at the top of your head. The only player that I can think of is Esipkeno who we recently saw defeat the world champion. So it's clear that Euwe is the strongest player for the letter E. 

Alexander Alekhine vs. Max Euwe, World Chess Championship 1935.

Max Euwe was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on May 20th, 1901. Euwe was actually a mathematician before he became a world-class player. He was a very solid player but was still comfortable in wild positions.  Euwe is quite often forgotten even though he beat such strong players like Alekhine, Botvinnik, and even Fischer many times. Some consider him as the weakest World Chess Champion but hey, becoming a world champion at that time was extremely hard. You probably haven't seen many games of him, so like all our other players, let's see his best game (annotated by Kasparov) and some fun tactics.

Letter F: Robert James "Bobby" Fischer

This one is the easiest decision in the entire series, there aren't many Super GMs who have a surname that starts with the letter F. How about Firouzja? Too young to say. Bobby Fischer is easily a Top 3 player of all time and some may consider him the GOAT ahead of Kasparov or Carlsen. Bobby Fischer is one of my favorite players on the board but as a person, he was pretty crazy... In fact, my first ever blog covered one of my favorite chess games of all time which featured a young Fischer. You simply cannot disagree that Bobby Fischer is the strongest player whose last name starts with the letter F.

A young Bobby Fischer ready to play his game.

Robert James Fischer, better known as Bobby Fischer was born in Chicago, Illinois, US on March 9th, 1943. When he was just six he started to play chess and in 1956 he won the US Junior Chess Championship which gave him a ticket to the 1957 US Chess Championships. Before the US Chess Championship he won the US Open Championship and played one of the most famous games known as the Game of the Century against Donald Byrne. He went on to win the US Championship against the best players in the country at only age 14. A few years later Fischer qualified for the Candidates Tournament but only finished fifth.

He dropped out of high-school and later accused the Soviets of pre-arranging draws to save energy and plot against Fischer. He then took a break from playing tournament with Soviets and went on to win many more US Championships along will writing a book called "My 60 Memorable Games" which is one of the most famous and best-selling books today.

In 1970, Fischer returned to the game of chess and won the Interzonal Tournament which gave him another chance for to win the Candidates Tournament where he beat Mark Taimanov 6-0 but he didn't just sweep his opponent once in the tournament, he did it again to Bent Larsen and went win the finals and qualify to the World Championship against Boris Spassky. This was in my opinion the first chess boom considering that the cold war had been going on and an American was playing a Soviet. He lost the first game and forfeited the second game but went on to win the next few games and defeated Spassky to become the world chess champion.

He later disappeared from chess but in 1992, he won an unofficial rematch against Spassky. What happened to Fischer is still a mystery and many chess movies are based of Fischer. Sorry if I wrote too much about Fischer but he is just one of the most interesting chess players and probably the most famous of all time. Let's see his best game (annotated by Sergei Shipov) and a few mind-blowing puzzles from his games.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. This was one of my longest blogs and hopefully you enjoyed the games or the puzzles! This took a lot of time to make so I probably hope to finish this series before May since I'll be doing a lot of blog in between instead of just knocking out 4-in-a-row. If you disagree with me on any of the players like you thought Capablanca is better than Carlsen then please give your reasoning below! Thanks, and I'll see you guys next time. 

Just a 13-year-old blogger from San Diego who wants to share my knowledge and opinions on the hot topics in chess. I started playing chess at 7 and I have a peak USCF rating of 2007. Other than chess I enjoy soccer, basketball, geoguessr, cubing, and video editing. 

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