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Have you ever wondered who are the strongest chess players of all time and how they would fare against each other. Well I have done a lot of work to compile this list. It was done as part of a project to build the card game, Chess Champs Legends - which is still in progress.
Historical ratings were based on work done by Jeff Sonas. For ratings after the year 2000, FIDE rating lists were used. All ratings were determined by calculating the average rating over a 5 year period from January - December. Then taking the peak of those averages across the time that player was active.
I have not included any player whose peak was below 2700 which is why Judit Polgar makes the list but Hou Yifan doesn't for example. Hou Yifans' peak 5-year average is currently 2651.
I have also done other work to show which players were most successful in sacrificial situations for example, but I will leave that for another time ;-)
I hope you find this list informative and insightful. If you think I have missed a player, please let me know.
Do you think he should be lower or higher? Anyway, to answer your question, it is because that is his rating performance to date. Hikaru's rating of 2785 was calculated from the period Jan 2013 - November 2017. Note this is standard time control ratings - his blitz ratings are much higher. Hikaru's highest standard rating ever achieved was October 2015 when he reached 2816 but he was only able to maintain a 2800+ rating for 4 months (July - October 2015) and he has milled around the high 2700's ever since.
Interesting list and project, but take Anand that have been 2820 once, how can his average rating over a 5 year period be 2818? or is that his average highest year?
Don't mean to critizise just wondering how you came up with the numbers
”Have you ever wondered who are the strongest chess players of all time and how they would fare against each other. Well I have done a lot of work to compile this list”
Do you mean that this is supposed to show actual playing strength? I don’t think Steinitz would be equal with players like Mamedyarov, chess has improved too much the last 150 years for that. Steinitz would be lost already in the opening against players like MVL and So. But if it’s supposed to rank the players strength wise in their own era, Steinitz would be light years ahead of Mamedyarov etc since the latter hasn’t been clear #1 for decades like Steinitz was.
Also, regardless what the list measures, I would never rank players like Gelfand, Adams, Radjabov and Leko so far ahead of Topalov. The latter was the strongest player in the world for some time and different level compared to contemporaries Gelfand, Adams, Radjabov and Leko. He won a dozen more top events than them taken together and was much higher rated, and had quite a big margin down to #2 on the rating list at some points.
Giri stronger than Spassky? He can hardly win a game...
Well, Giri was 2800+ in 2015 so not unreasonable that he would play stronger chess than someone who peaked 50 years into the past, just like Spassky played better than those 50 years before him that were greater players. I find it harder to believe that Steinitz would beat both Spassky and Giri though :-) Or that Adams and Gelfand and Radjabov have played better than Topalov :-)
Hi guys, I thought I would explain a bit more. The ratings in the list are about the players performance at the time they played chess actively. Their ratings are calculated by taking the average over every 5-year period which they were active from Jan - Dec and then taking the peak of all those averages. Ratings weren't available in Steinitz time, so these ratings were calculated based on tournament performance analysis - work done by Jeff Sonas - see ChessMetrics.com for more info.
So taking Steinitz and putting him into today's situation doesn't make sense but in terms of his performance in his day, he was at a very similar level to Spassky and Giri.
ps. I managed to miss Ruslan Ponomariov somehow. His 5-year average peak is 2738 which puts him around #55 on the list.
Fabelhaft, regarding Topalov, you are quite right! I rechecked his calculations and his peak average is 2796 which was from 2006-2010. Somehow I had miscalculated his rating. So Topalov should be #13 just a smigen below Caruana.
I think saying that Steinitz performance in his day was on a similar level as Giri today is to be too nice to the latter :-) While Giri has been hovering around #10 in the world the last years (#15 today) and briefly even been top five, Steinitz was the best player in the world for a long time. He not only won four title matches, but Chessmetrics rank him as #1 with a bigger distance to #2 at his peak than for example Fischer. Seeing him ranked below players like Giri, Karjakin, Nakamura and Grischuk feels harsh to me, when what is measured is performance against contemporaries.
Fabelhaft, you were right again about Steinitz. I have been working on the project so long I didn't check everything before I posted it. I have rechecked and found Steinitz and Alekhine weren't quite right. I have updated the list. Let me know if you notice any other anomalies.
Some dude recently shared fun animated version of his top 5 chess players of all time in this video:
Bobby Fischer for a short period was the greatest chess mind ever. His games dominated the world with new strategies never seen before. Gary Kasparov was probably second but was very tough for a longer span. Numbers do not tell everything about a player.