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I don't think you can count players who had a chance to win and didn't take it (for whatever reason) so Bronstein, Korchnoi, Tarrasch and Chigorin are all out. Keres and Rubinstein are the usual suspects, but Keres had his chances once Botvinnik was not the 'preferred' champion of the soviet authorities and couldn't take them. Rubinstein was like Ivanchuk, I think the stress of a World Championship match, even at his peak in 1912 would have been too much for him. My feeling is Maroczy would have given Lasker all he could handle in his best period 1905-1907. I don't think Nimzovitch could have beaten Alekhine in 1931, Alekhine was stratospherically good between 1930-34. Ivanchuk will eventually go down as somebody who should have been World Champion in the period with split titles but he got his shot against Ponomariev and didn't take it.
So my vote for the best player never to be WC is Maroczy.
I wouldn't rank Maroczy as a better player than Korchnoi just because the latter lost his title matches to Karpov, the latter was a very strong opponent and Korchnoi came close to winning their first matches. When qualifying for the 1978 match Korchnoi had 5-0 after 7 games in the Candidates semi, and 5-0 after 10 games in the final. Then he was equal after 31 games in the title match against Karpov. Disqualifying him from "best player never to be WC" just because he had a chance to win the title is tough.
Maroczy had 0-13 in serious games against Lasker, Capa and Alekhine, and never won a tournament ahead of them. He didn't win any of the tournaments he played in 1906-07 but in 1905 he shared first with Janowski once and had a sole win ahead of Janowski.
Apart from everything else, Korchnoi won the game between the two :-)
what about nezhmetinov(sp??)
only the best would become world champion
Nope. The only reason he didn't manage to become WC was because of his pipe which sometimes took time to light. Burn had plus scores against Steinitz, Charousek, Pillsbury, Alekhine, etc.
He was also undefeated by Morphy, Tal, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, and Carlsen.
Had plenty of chances, especially against Short in 1993 but couldn't take them. If he couldn't beat Short in a match then he couldn't possibly be the 'best never to win the World Championship'..
He couldn't even get close to winning a Soviet Championship so he shouldn't be on the short list. Phenomenal attacking player though, probably even more imaginative than Tal but the positional players just blew him away.
Rubinstein, Bronstein, Korchnoi
At least everyone agrees Reshevsky deserves no respect.
pillsbury and mir sultan khan
How 'bout Hugh Hefner? I hear he's quite a player.
rubinstein,keres,korchnoi,reshevsky,bronstein,geller,gligoric,marshall,pillsbury,stein, just to name a few
Carlsen should already be close to be real competition for Korchnoi and Keres, he will soon get the Chess Oscar for best player of the year for the third year in a row. Not many other non-World Champions performed results reminding of Carlsen's over a period of 4-5 years.
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