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List of World Chess Champions

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Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand.

World Chess Champions are players who have won a match or tournament for the World Championship at chess. Both men and women can become champion, but no woman has ever been a challenger for the title. There is, however, a separate championship for women. There are also separate championships for specific age groups.

Before 1886, there was no official championship held, but some players were thought to be pre-eminent. From 1948 on, the World Chess Federation FIDE held the championships. Between 1993 and 2006 there were two world champion titles, the FIDE one and the classical one.

The 2013 World Championship match took place between Anand and Magnus Carlsen (challenger) in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, where Anand grew up. Usually, world championships had been played on neutral ground. Fischer played Spassky in Iceland; Alekhine played Capablanca in Buenos Aires. The Soviets always played in Moscow. However, sponsorship is needed for these matches, and the decision to accept the Chennai bid was taken by FIDE. The Challenger was victorious winning 3 games and achieving the necessary 6.5 points to win the title at the end of game 10. Magnus Carlsen, 22 and from Norway is therefore the current World Chess Champion.

Esteemed players before 1821

These players are included (pre-18th century) on little more than opinion, and (18th century) on the basis of more substantial information.[1] Some authors of important early works on chess are noted.

Name Year Country
Francesch Vicent (author) ~1475  Spain (Catalonia)[2]
Luis Ramirez de Lucena (author) ~1490  Spain
Pedro Damiano (author) ~1512 Flag of Portugal (1495).svg Portugal
Ruy López de Segura (author) 1559–1575  Spain
El Morro ~1560–1575 Flag of Portugal (1495).svg Portugal
Leonardo da Cutri 1575 Flag of the Kingdom of Naples.svg Kingdom of Naples
Paolo Boi 1575 Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia 4.svg Kingdom of Sicily
Giulio Polerio ~1580 Flag of the Kingdom of Naples.svg Kingdom of Naples
Alessandro Salvio (author) ~1600 Flag of the Kingdom of Naples.svg Kingdom of Naples
Gioachino Greco (author) ~1620–1634 Flag of the Kingdom of Naples.svg Kingdom of Naples
Pietro Carrera ~1640 Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia 4.svg Kingdom of Sicily
Kermur de Légal ~1730–1745  France
Philip Stamma (author) 1745  England
Ercoli del Rio (author) ~1750  Italy (Duchy of Modena)
Giambattista Lolli (author) ~1760  Italy (Duchy of Modena)
Domenico Ponziani (author) ~1770  Italy (Duchy of Modena)
Philidor (author) 1745–1795  France
Johann Baptist Allgaier (author) ~1795–~1815  Austrian Empire
Verdoni ~1795–~1804  Italy
Jacob Henry Sarratt (author) ~1805–~1815  England
Alexandre Deschapelles 1815–1821  France

World Champions pre-FIDE

These players are included on the basis of their winning matches against credible opponents. Champions are numbered from Steinitz onwards, because his match against Zukertort was publicly declared as a world championship, and generally accepted.[3][4]

Name Year Country
Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais 1821–1840  France
Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant 1840–1843  France
Howard Staunton 1843–1851  England
Adolf Anderssen 1851–1858
Paul Morphy 1858–1862  United States
1. Wilhelm Steinitz 1886–1894  Austria-Hungary
 United States
2. Emanuel Lasker 1894–1921  Germany
3. José Raúl Capablanca 1921–1927  Cuba
4. Alexander Alekhine 1927–1935
Russia Russia
5. Max Euwe 1935–1937  Netherlands

FIDE world champions 1948–1993

Long matches, initially best of 24 games.

# Name Year Country
6 Mikhail Botvinnik 1948–1957
 Soviet Union (Russia)
7 Vasily Smyslov 1957–1958  Soviet Union (Russia)
8 Mikhail Tal 1960–1961  Soviet Union (Latvia)
9 Tigran Petrosian 1963–1969  Soviet Union (Armenia)
10 Boris Spassky 1969–1972  Soviet Union (Russia)
11 Robert J. Fischer 1972–1975  United States
12 Anatoly Karpov 1975–1985  Soviet Union (Russia)
13 Garry Kasparov 1985–1993  Soviet Union (Azerbaijan)

FIDE world champions 1993–2006

These knock-out events are separately numbered.

# Name Year Country
1 Anatoly Karpov 1993–1999  Russia
2 Alexander Khalifman 1999–2000  Russia
3 Viswanathan Anand 2000–2002  India
4 Ruslan Ponomariov 2002–2004  Ukraine
5 Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2004–2005  Uzbekistan
6 Veselin Topalov 2005–2006  Bulgaria

Classical world champions 1993–2006

These are matches of the traditional kind, and of 15 or 20 games.

# Name Year Country
13 Garry Kasparov 1993–2000  Russia
14 Vladimir Kramnik 2000–2006  Russia

Undisputed world champions 2006–present

Variously, 12-game classical match format and double-round all-play-all tournament.

# Name Year Country
14 Vladimir Kramnik 2006–2007  Russia
15 Viswanathan Anand 2007–2013  India
16 Magnus Carlsen 2013–present  Norway

Women's World Champions

Name Years Country
Vera Menchik 1927–1944  Russia /  Czechoslovakia /  England
Lyudmila Rudenko 1950–1953  Soviet Union (Ukraine)
Elisabeth Bykova 1953–1956  Soviet Union (Russia)
Olga Rubtsova 1956–1958  Soviet Union (Russia)
Elisabeth Bykova 1958–1962  Soviet Union (Russia)
Nona Gaprindashvili 1962–1978  Soviet Union / Georgia
Maia Chiburdanidze 1978–1991  Soviet Union / Georgia
Xie Jun 1991–1996  People's Republic of China
Susan Polgar 1996–1999  Hungary /  United States
Xie Jun 1999–2001  People's Republic of China
Zhu Chen 2001–2004  People's Republic of China
Antoaneta Stefanova 2004–2006  Bulgaria
Xu Yuhua 2006–2008  People's Republic of China
Alexandra Kosteniuk 2008–2010  Russia
Yifan Hou 2010–2012  People's Republic of China
Anna Ushenina 2012–2013  Ukraine
Yifan Hou 2013–  People's Republic of China

Other pages


  1. Murray H.J.R. (1913). A history of chess. Benjamin Press (originally published by Oxford University Press). ISBN 0-936317-01-9 . OCLC 13472872 .
  2. The author was a Catalan. Until 1716, Catalonia, a principality of the Crown of Aragon, kept its own Constitution, language, usages and laws.
  3. Winter, Edward G. (ed) 1981. World chess champions. Pergamon. ISBN 0-08-024094-1.
  4. Hooper, David and Whyld, Kenneth 1992. The Oxford Companion to Chess 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9