Who are the Most Tactical Chess Players?
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Who are the Most Tactical Chess Players?

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No matter how much theory progresses, and how radically styles change, chess play is inconceivable without tactics. - GM Samuel Reshevsky

Tactics are perhaps the most important aspect of chess-play. Without the knowledge of at least simple tactics, you can already consider your chess career a failure. However, tactics can come in different sizes, skill levels, or even forms, and each is equally as important as the rest. Because of this broad approach, tactics are close to impossible to master and require immense skill and patience. Today I will be covering who I think are the most tactical chess players. Enjoy!

Paul Morphy

If you're interested, click this image to watch GothamChess's video on one of Paul Morphy's best games.

The infamous "Pride and Sorrow of Chess," GM Paul Morphy. With his incredible chess talent, it would've been a crime to not include him on this list. Morphy was born on June 22, 1837, in the US state of Louisiana. He was one of the first famous chess prodigies at the time and retired from the game when he was still very young.

I talked about Paul Morphy a lot in some of my previous blogs because he was such an influence on the chess world at the time and is even considered the the first unofficial world champion. However, all these accomplishments beg the question, how much of a tactical player was he?

Looking over some of Morphy's games, it can be clearly seen that most end within the first 20-30 moves, usually in his favor. Morphy's aggressive and confident approach is shown in his matches, where he finds interesting and difficult tactics. Let's take a look at an example.

Morphy played incredibly well so far, with a flawless opening and perfect execution. He capitalized on some of white's blunders and got an advantage very early into the game. At this point, the game is already won for white, but can you find the finishing blow?

Yes, Paul Morphy was a one-of-a-kind player, but he played nearly 2 centuries ago. The popularity and skill-level of chess in general has greatly increased over time, making it way harder to stand out. But what if we looked at a more recent chess phenom?

Garry Kasparov

GM Garry Kasparov is a 2-time world chess champion, even considered the GOAT by Because he dominated the chess world for over 20 years, Kasparov had a wide variety of gameplay, openings, and tactics. 

Garry Kasparov teaches openings. Photo: MasterClass

His peak-rating of 2851, which he achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until Magnus Carlsen surpassed it in 2013. Kasparov was also ranked world number 1 for a total of 255 months in a row, the most in history. A lot of his games were very solid and positional, squeezing out the energy out of the opponent and waiting for the perfect time to strike, while others had reoccurring tactics and intense moments. 

Perhaps one of my favorite games that he played was against Veselin Topalov, which got the nickname "King Hunt."

Kasparov played brilliantly throughout the entire game, even earning 4!! Brilliant Moves from's analysis. Now, to end it all, what is the best move in this position?

After his successful chess career, Kasparov went on to become an accomplished writer and activist. Was he the greatest of all time, or simply and incredible chess player? A question that will be debated for a long time. All we know, for now at least, is that he definitely knew how to solve puzzles.

Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal in an active chess game. Photo: Chess24

GM Mikhail Tal was a Soviet-Latvian chess player, considered to be a creative genius who played daring and attacking games. Being the 8th-world-champion, he was also considered one of the game's best players. Tal was born in Riga, and as a child, joined the Young Pioneers chess club. Ever since the very beginning, Tal used his creative imagination to find combinations that other strong players didn't even think about. Because of this young talent, he went on to become a Soviet, and World champion. I chose to put Tal on this list because he was known for developing a powerful and imaginative style of play early into the game, even earning him the nickname "The Magician from Riga."

It was very difficult to pick out one of Tal's games to showcase, as pretty much every single one of them had a major tactic that occurred. Feel free to let me know if you think there are much better games that he played, and I'll happily look over some of them in my own time.

Interesting Puzzles

I thought it would be fun to include some difficult puzzles with not-so-obvious solutions. If you want to, try to solve at least one of these, and tell me in the comments if you managed to do so. Please don't spoil the answer though, as you might ruin it for other people.

Objective: White to win in 7 moves.

Objective: Mate in 3.

Thank you so much for reading through this entire blog, I really appreciate it. Before I end off, I'd like to thank everyone who supported me on the way to Top Blogger, it really means a ton to me. I'll try my best to post high-quality blogs consistently. Anyways, I hope you learned something new today, or at least had fun solving tactics. If you think that I should've replace someone on this list, feel free to tell me. I am always open to instructive criticism. That's it for now, and as always, I'll see you next time. Goodbye!