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Top 30 chess players of all time

  • #1

    Here I am simple going to post who I think are the 30 greatest chess players who ever lived. One thing: I am not going to post any active players here, because you never know who good or bad active players can do in the future. I am looking forward to your feedback and seeing where I should change the places and if I missed a player entirely.


    1.       Kasparov

    2.       Karpov

    3.       Alekhine

    4.       Fischer

    5.       Lasker

    6.       Botvinnik

    7.       Capablanca

    8.       Bronstein

    9.       Spassky

    10.   Smyslov

    11.   Steinitz

    12.   Tal

    13.   Geller

    14.   Euwe

    15.   Petrosian

    16.   Tarrasch

    17.   Keres

    18.   Reshevsky

    19.   Rubinstein

    20.   Korchnoi

    21.   Stein

    22.   Gligoric

    23.   Fine

    24.   Schlechter

    25.   Pillsbury

    26.   Marshall

    27.   Chigorin

    28.   Polugaevsky

    29.   Najdorf

    30.   Larsen


  • #2

    Great list! Though I would think that Morphy should feature on there.

  • #3

    The only reason I didn't put Morphy on there is because:

    1. He didn't play long enough (only 300 known games).

    2. Since there were no other really good players in that time, he didn't really have any competition to prove he was that good. If, for example, he was dropped into the 1970's and beat Fischer, Karpov, and everyone else, then he would of course be on here.

  • #4

    That's a reasonable argument on the Morphy front, though I still would choose him because of how influential his games, style and history have been on the world of chess ;) 

    Another player possibly to consider would be Pirc. Also although I think he might technically still be active, how about Korchnoi? 

  • #5

    I'm glad that Fischer didn't make the number one spot on your list. He was a strong player, but he didn't play long enough to really prove himself.

    I don't think Tal should be quite that high on your list. I've always thought he seemed like a one-dimensional player. He was good at what he did, but that's about it. His reign as world champion was very brief, and Botvinnik, whom he defeated for the title, quickly regained it.

    Also, I feel like Petrosian should be much higher on the list. He had an very unique style, not quite like any other chess player in history. All in all, he was incredibly hard to beat ("In those years, it was easier to win the Soviet Championship than a game against 'Iron Tigran'." — Lev Polugaevsky). He was also quite versatile, and not afraid of sharp positions, even if he didn't perfer them. Spassky found this out when he lost his first world championship match against Petrosian, and stated that, "It is to Petrosian's advantage that his opponents never know when he is suddenly going to play like Mikhail Tal."

  • #6


    First of all, about Tal:

    He advanced to the Candidates tournament 6 times! He had the 5th best tournament performance of all time with a performance rating of 2869!!!!

    He won the Interzonal back in 1958 when he was still very young (ahead of Fischer, Gligoric, Benko, Olaffson, Averbakh, and many many more, including your Petrosian).

    He had the longevity that every chess player needs: He was in the top 10 in the world even in 1988 (!!!)


    About Petrosian:

    It's true that he was hard to beat, but only because he made more draws than anyone! He was not really number one in the world for long too, only for 33 months (It sounds like a lot but for a world champion and a world championship candidate from 1955-1978 it really isn't.) He also did not have any super years, ( Like Fischer in 1972, Pillsbury in 1901 and so on.) only having the 18th best year of all time in 1963.

  • #7

    How about Greco and de la Bourdonnais

  • #8

    It's a good list, and I don't think Tal is too high. Bronstein as 8th ahead of Smyslov, Steinitz, Spassky and Tal sounds a bit high to me though, and I wouldn't place Geller far ahead of Korchnoi, otherwise I agree with almost everything and can't say I miss anyone.

  • #9

    No Reti or Nimzowitsch?

  • #10

    fabelhaft - Yeah, Bronstein and Geller were tough to rank. The reason that Bronstein made it so high is-


    He nearly became world champion (needed 2 draws in the final 2 games but collapsed).
    He won one of the strongest Interzonals of all time, ahead of Keres, Petrosian, Geller, and Spassky  with a performance rating of 2813 in 1955.
    Bronstein proved himself equal with the world champions, having only a very small minus score against them.
    Perhaps no player influenced a single decade more than David Bronstein in the 1950’s. He was one of the favorites in every single tournament he went to, and had so many opening plans and variations named after him that  they are impossible to count.
    Bronstein had a plus score against  Korchnoi, Boleslavsky, Keres, and Taimanov, certainly 4 of the best players of his time.
    Bronstein had lots of longevity, he was in the top 20 in the world even in the 1970’s.
  • #11

    Does the same topic appear everyday or do they just edit the date of the thread?

  • #12

    And don't forget, Bronstein basically discovered the King's Indian

  • #13

    Also, one reason Geller made it up there is his score against these players.

    Petrosian +1

    Smyslov +1

    Keres =

    Tal =

    Geller's average rating from 1952-1971 is 2730 (!!!)

    Also, he was in the top 20 in the world from 1950-1980

    But looking at him compared to other players, his achievements pale in comparison to theirs. Oh well, maybe he should be lower.

  • #14

    Also, it's funny that both Keres and Geller had the same middle name - Petrovich.

  • #15
  • #16
  • #17
    thinkdeeplistengood wrote:

    according to nigel short fisher was better in blitz than kasparov!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    he concluded that after a secret encounter on the net

    Short never played Fischer, it was just someone with an engine that pretended to be him. Fischer denied playing Short or on the Internet. It's difficult to compare blitz strength between different generations, but for 2000-09 the highest Elo performances in OTB blitz look like this (last column):

    1.Kasparov,G 52 + 30- 4= 18 2867

    2.Anand,V 137 + 67- 25= 45 2810

    3.Ivanchuk,V 166 + 82- 42= 42 2793

    4.Kramnik,V 137 + 57- 34= 46 2783

    5.Carlsen,M 183 + 93- 48= 42 2767

    Carlsen's stats would of course improve considerably if 2010 was included since he wasn't a top player for the most part of 2000-09 but had excellent results in 2010.


  • #18

    I think there should be Vishwanath Anand on the list

  • #19

    No Aaron nimzowitsch?how about his contributions to chess?

  • #20


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