Who is the greatest chess player of all?

dancordosi

Probably Fisher but Capablanca is a personal favorite.

Skarznik

Yes the Kasparov/Karpov angle is interesting.

Many players would rate Kasparov #1, Fischer 2, Capa 3 , then maybe Lasker, Alekhine, Botvinnink, Keres, Tal.....

If yer gonna make Kasparov 1 or 2, then what do yo do with Karpov ? His tournament record equalled Garry's, and in match play they were awful close to dead even. 

SpiderUnicorn

best is Carlsen. he is a beast in chess these days in 2019, winning 4 tournaments in a row: Tata Steel, Shamkir, Grenke, and the Cote d Ivoire  

Skarznik

At spider- all true, but those last 2 WC 'matches' haven't exactly added lustre to his crown. It wasn't even so much that all the games with Caruana were drawn, but more that nothing happened.

BonTheCat
Skarznik wrote:

At spider- all true, but those last 2 WC 'matches' haven't exactly added lustre to his crown. It wasn't even so much that all the games with Caruana were drawn, but more that nothing happened.

Over the past couple of years Carlsen was in the process of rounding out his playing style to become more aggressive - and when he played Caruana it was still a work in progress (Carlsen has continued to play the Lasker-Pelikan Sicilian with considerable success since the WC match). Secondly, if you play someone who's adopting a safety first approach, it's very difficult to break him/her down at that level. Twelve match games is too short, and has been considered so for over a century. Emanuel Lasker was of the opinion that 30 match games was a suitable number to ensure a decisive and conclusive result.

imboardletsplaychess

Let me ask my mirror 🤔

Skarznik

Sorry,  but when your approach to a world championship match is ' I have a better chance at Blitz than at standard time controls so I'll just play out the regular games taking no chances in an attempt to win' you are hardly staking a claim to being the greatest chess player of all time. 

fabelhaft
Skarznik wrote:

Sorry,  but when your approach to a world championship match is ' I have a better chance at Blitz than at standard time controls so I'll just play out the regular games taking no chances in an attempt to win' you are hardly staking a claim to being the greatest chess player of all time. 

You pick one title match, that Carlsen won, to conclude his lack of greatness...

You mention eight other great players instead,  but making a similar assessment of them it is easy to pick Kasparov's match against Kramnik, or Lasker's against Capablanca, to conclude that they weren't so great either. Keres? When was he ever the best player in the world or reach a title match? Capa? Won one title match. Alekhine? Picked Bogo and Euwe as opponents and even lost to Euwe. Botvinnik? Won two of seven title matches. Tal? Won one title match but was never close to win another one. Fischer? Only played one. 

A more fair assessment would maybe include that Carlsen already at 28 has four World Championships without having the benefit of draw odds and rematches, scores great results in tournament after tournament, has been fairly clear #1 for almost ten years, etc etc. I think he already is unavoidable as top five, then it's a matter of taste where to place him.

Skarznik

To be fair, Carlsen has won two WC matches at Blitz. In the two together he has, in 24 games, won ONE GAME at standard time controls. And in the games of the last match there were really no serious attempts to win . Not exactly Tal/Botvinnik.  This does not stake much of a claim for being the greatest of all time.

Yes, WC matches are hard, and there have been many that did not do great credit- most famously the desultory Alekhine/Capablanca match. Though your examples were poor- Lasker lost to Capablanca after holding the title for over 25 years. Kasparov vs Kramnik was also a decade after Kasparov's prime. 

 

fabelhaft

”Carlsen has won two WC matches at Blitz”

He hasn’t won any WC match in blitz.

fabelhaft

”your examples were poor- Lasker lost to Capablanca after holding the title for over 25 years. Kasparov vs Kramnik was also a decade after Kasparov's prime”

That is also an example of how difficult it is to compare the ”unimpressive” Carlsen with other players. Lasker chose to defend against players like Janowski, Marshall and Schlechter. Unlike Carlsen he could keep the title without even beating Schlechter. He (twice!) went 11 years without defending at all. And then lost the title as soon as he faced a top player as challenger. Still I think he is one of the three greatest ever, but as World Champion I find Carlsen more impressive.

Kasparov also is top three in my book, but considered himself to be at his best around the match against Kramnik. But he still lost. Sooner or later the top players just underperform in an event or two, and that was what Kasparov did there.

Carlsen had to play four title matches 2013-18, and defended against qualified challengers every time, without draw odds or rematches. He has lost two games in four title matches, one after playing too hard for the win against Karjakin, one after falling into a prepared line against Anand. But it isn’t only about title matches, he has been the best player in The World for ten years, and not least his results and games this year show how great he is.

BonTheCat

Schlechter was recognized as absolute world class at the time, thanks to his tournament results in the mid 00s. Furthermore, it has to be said that Pillsbury died young, Tarrasch was never really a patch on Lasker, whereas Capablanca and Rubinstein had both entered into negotiations about a match before the First World War interrupted, and then in the immediate aftermath of the war (which left Lasker virtually penniless) it was clearly not so easy to arrange a match. Lasker wanted a proper purse to stake his title, and so did Capablanca.

Before FIDE took over the WC, it clearly was in the incumbent's interest to set as difficult conditions as possible to deter challenges and make matches as lucrative as possible. Capablanca got it in the neck when Alekhine subjected him to the same conditions that he himself had had to fullfil, but with an international depression finding backers was not easy.

TheSultan31003

More than likely it was Paul Morphy.  But others come to mind as well.  Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov, and Carlsen are among my favorites whose games I study all the time.

For the time when Morphy was playing, he displayed a brilliancy of academic prowess that was truly awe inspiring.  He and Capablanca both learned how to play chess at an extremely high level merely by watching other's play and were never formerly taught the rules.  They did not have even close to the amount of information available like we do today and they still played gorgeous chess simply by the power of their wit.

I am completely at a loss for words when trying to wrap my head around the fact that these guys developed the tactical prowess that they had without ever having had a formal lesson or even read up on any theory.

SpiderUnicorn

yeah the 2 Carlsen WC matches weren't that good but his challengers still failed to win though. and his highest ever rating of 2882 is 31 higher Kasparov's 2851, and his splendid performance in the 4 tournaments in 2019, his 'scary win' over Aronian, and his complete dominance in the Blitz and Rapid Cote d'Ivoire is too overwhelming for any other Super-GM to keep up with his amazing pace of chess play

wollyhood
TheSultan31003 wrote:

More than likely it was Paul Morphy.  But others come to mind as well.  Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov, and Carlsen are among my favorites whose games I study all the time.

For the time when Morphy was playing, he displayed a brilliancy of academic prowess that was truly awe inspiring.  He and Capablanca both learned how to play chess at an extremely high level merely by watching other's play and were never formerly taught the rules.  They did not have even close to the amount of information available like we do today and they still played gorgeous chess simply by the power of their wit.

I am completely at a loss for words when trying to wrap my head around the fact that these guys developed the tactical prowess that they had without ever having had a formal lesson or even read up on any theory.

I love you right now

No theory.... ecstacy

Skarznik

So true about Morphy. For those who think he played some sort of Neandrathal chess, here is an example of his genius. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1027914&comp=1

Realizing that Bird played Lasker in tournaments, and Lasker played Botvinnik, Morphy is not that far removed from 'modern chess; as one might think. This game is analyzed in West's very cool book 'The Dynamic Philidor Counter Gambit ' (Morphy's opening line still has theoretical value) - Karpov and his computer looks at the position after White's b4 to see if the sacrifice was sound, and after 17 moves comes up with the evaluation 'unclear' !

TheSultan31003
wollyhood wrote:
TheSultan31003 wrote:

More than likely it was Paul Morphy.  But others come to mind as well.  Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov, and Carlsen are among my favorites whose games I study all the time.

For the time when Morphy was playing, he displayed a brilliancy of academic prowess that was truly awe inspiring.  He and Capablanca both learned how to play chess at an extremely high level merely by watching other's play and were never formerly taught the rules.  They did not have even close to the amount of information available like we do today and they still played gorgeous chess simply by the power of their wit.

I am completely at a loss for words when trying to wrap my head around the fact that these guys developed the tactical prowess that they had without ever having had a formal lesson or even read up on any theory.

I love you right now

No theory.... ecstacy

Lol thanks

TheSultan31003

If you are measuring champions based on their tournament results you are missing one of the most important factors that influences the landscape. The amount of information available to them at the time of their relevance. Raw talent is hard to argue.

Kasparov had teams of grandmasters working for him when he was preparing for world championships.  He still is an incredible talent for sure, though.  Carlsen has the most information available to him out of all the champions mentioned because he is the most current.  It doesn't mean, he isn't a fantastic champion, it just means he is a modern, high level GM and quite possibly could break the record for the highest rating of all time in Classical format.

However, before Chessbase, before engines, before even the numerous works that were written in the last 50 years made information in chess so much more readily available in today's landscape.  Before all of this, there were players that were almost as strong as the GM's of today, just by their own intuition.  For me, that is almost wizard-like.  A candid sorcery that is inexplicable. 

It's almost as fascinatingly curious as to how Nikola Tesla was able to identify the transmission of free energy wireless before the concept was even conceived. That type of genius is awe-inspiring and unmatched.

BonTheCat

When assessing individual players, it's worth looking at their longevity. There were numerous GMs who got the title in 70s and 80s, and then relatively quickly fell back to E2300-E2400, and many players begin to tail off as early as their mid-30s. This is what makes players like Lasker, Rubinstein, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Korchnoi etc. so remarkable. They were able to continue developing as chess itself took huge leaps. Lasker was 67 when he took third place at Moscow 1935 - ahead of all the young guns. Botvinnik was 52 years old when he lost the WC against Tigran Petrosian in 1963 and still top 10 in the world when he retired in 1970 (E2640, only 30 points below Spassky, the world champion). Smyslov reached the Candidates Semi-final aged 64. Korchnoi was still above E2600 when he was 75 years old, above E2550 when had his stroke and nearly E2500 when he died at the age of 85.

wollyhood

way to die on top : )

nice little stuff you to the dieties