x
Chess - Play & Learn

Chess.com

FREE - In Google Play

FREE - in Win Phone Store

VIEW

The Strongest Chess players of all time

  • #1

    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.

    Rank Player Rating
    1 Magnus Carlsen 2859
    2 Emanuel Lasker 2847
    3 Garry Kasparov 2843
    4 Mikhail Botvinnik 2843
    5 Bobby Fischer 2841
    6 Anatoly Karpov 2829
    7 Alexander Alekhine 2827
    8 Viswanathan Anand 2818
    9 José Raúl Capablanca 2813
    10 Vladimir Kramnik 2812
    11 Levon Aronian 2807
    12 Fabiano Caruana 2799
    13 Vesselin Topalov 2796
    14 Vassily Ivanchuk 2790
    15 Viktor Korchnoi 2789
    16 Wilhelm Steinitz 2789
    17 Vasily Smyslov 2788
    18 Hikaru Nakamura 2785
    19 Tigran Petrosian 2782
    20 Alexander Grischuk 2775
    21 Mikhail Tal 2773
    22 Harry Pillsbury 2773
    23 Géza Maróczy 2772
    24 Sergey Karjakin 2771
    25 Samuel Reshevsky 2769
    26 Paul Keres 2766
    27 Siegbert Tarrasch 2766
    28 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2765
    29 Anish Giri 2765
    30 Miguel Najdorf 2765
    31 Wesley So 2762
    32 Boris Spassky 2761
    33 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2760
    34 Teimour Radjabov 2760
    35 David Bronstein 2758
    36 Paul Morphy 2753
    37 Gata Kamsky 2752
    38 Peter Leko 2751
    39 Boris Gelfand 2750
    40 Valery Salov 2749
    41 Liren Ding 2747
    42 Alexei Shirov 2747
    43 Alexander Beliavsky 2747
    44 Efim Geller 2747
    45 Jan Timman 2746
    46 Michael Adams 2745
    47 Reuben Fine 2745
    48 Lev Polugaevsky 2745
    49 Carl Schlechter 2743
    50 Lajos Portisch 2742
    51 Leonid Stein 2741
    52 Leinier Dominguez Perez 2739
    53 Alexander Morozevich 2738
    54 Bent Larsen 2738
    55 Salo Flohr 2738
    56 Ruslan Ponomariov 2738
    57 Evgeny Bareev 2737
    58 Mikhail Chigorin 2737
    59 Peter Svidler 2736
    60 Isaak Boleslavsky 2736
    61 Rafael Vaganian 2736
    62 Johannes Zukertort 2736
    63 David Janowski 2736
    64 Alexander Kotov 2734
    65 Dmitry Jakovenko 2733
    66 Akiba Rubinstein 2733
    67 Aaron Nimzowitsch 2733
    68 Pentala Harikrishna 2732
    69 Pavel Eljanov 2731
    70 Max Euwe 2731
    71 Artur Yusupov 2730
    72 Nigel Short 2730
    73 Gideon Ståhlberg  2729
    74 Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2728
    75 Nikita Vitiugov 2728
    76 Mark Taimanov 2728
    77 Efim Bogoljubov 2728
    78 Svetozar Gligoric 2727
    79 David Navara 2724
    80 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2724
    81 Dmitry Andreikin 2724
    82 Ulf Andersson 2724
    83 Chao b Li 2722
    84 Evgeny Tomashevsky 2722
    85 Ljubomir Ljubojevic 2721
    86 Etienne Bacrot 2717
    87 Robert Hübner 2716
    88 Jaan Ehlvest 2715
    89 Joseph Blackburne 2714
    90 Mikhail Gurevich 2713
    91 Jon Speelman 2712
    92 Vlastimil Hort 2712
    93 Yangyi Yu 2711
    94 Zoltán Ribli 2711
    95 Richard Teichmann 2711
    96 Quang Liem Le 2710
    97 Vladimir Malakhov 2710
    98 Alexander Khalifman 2710
    99 Andrei Sokolov 2709
    100 Judit Polgar 2709
    101 László Szabó 2709
    102 Baadur Jobava 2708
    103 Henrique Mecking 2708
    104 Vladimir Makogonov 2708
    105 Alexey Dreev 2707
    106 Rudolf Spielmann 2707
    107 Laurent Fressinet 2706
    108 Oleg Romanishin 2706
    109 Frank Marshall 2706
    110 John Nunn 2705
    111 Predrag Nikolić 2704
    112 Yuri Averbakh 2704
    113 Ratmir Kholmov 2703
    114 Yuri Balashov 2703
    115 Francisco Vallejo Pons 2702
    116 Alexander Moiseenko 2702
    117 Vladimir Tukmakov 2701
    118 Vladimir Akopian 2701
    119 Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2700
    120 Leonid Yudasin 2700
  • #2
    Wait...why is Hikaru #18
  • #3

    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.

  • #4

    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

  • #5

    ”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.

  • #6

    Giri stronger than Spassky? He can hardly win a game...

  • #7

    yeah..

  • #8

    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 :-) 

  • #9

    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.

  • #10

    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.

  • #11

    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.

  • #12

    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.

Top

Online Now