world champions

The first officially recognized world Chess championship was held in 1886, when Wilhelm Steinitz beat Johannes Zukertort in a match held in the USA. The outstanding players before this date are well known, but there were no official champions. Each champion has their own particular brand of play - be it aggressive, attacking, tactical or strategic - which is just as personal as their signature.  --Chesmayne

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morphy pic

Paul Charles Morphy
Unofficial World Champion *
1837 - 1884

Paul Morphy was without question the best player of his time and considered the world champion since there was no official world championship at the time. A match with British Master Howard Staunton would have resolved the issue.

steinitz pic

Wilhelm Steinitz
 * 1st World Champion *
1886 - 1894

To determine Paul Morphy’s successor after his death, a match was held between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort in New York, St. Louis and New Orleans. Steinitz won by a score of 12-7, becoming the first world Chess champion.

lasker pic

Emanuel Lasker
2nd World Champion *
1894 - 1921

Emanuel Laskers more refined and superior style proved decisively for Steinitz and in 1894, Lasker defeats Wilhelm Steinitz by a score of 12-7 in a match held in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal. He was world Chess champion for 26 years.

capablanca pic

Jose Raul Capablanca
3rd World Champion *
1921 - 1927

Only an even stronger engame player like Jose Raul Capablanca could replace Dr. Lasker. The “Chess Machine” as he was called, won the title against Emanuel Lasker in 1921 without a single game lost. This match was held in Havana, Cuba.

alekhine pic

Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine
4th World Champion *
1927 - 1935  1937 - 1946

In a long match in Buenos Aires in 1927, Alekhine defeats Capablanca on his initial defense by 18½ to 15½. His relations with him were so bad, that he never gave Capablanca a chance to regain the title and instead played Bogoljubov in September 1929.

euwe pic

Machgielis (Max) Euwe
5th World Champion *
1935 - 1937

In 1935, in Holland, Dutchman Max Euwe won the title to Alekhine by a score of 15½ to 14½ and was the world champion from 1935-37. Max Euwe lost the title back to Alekhine in a rematch in 1937. Euwe was the President of FIDE, the worlds official body (1970-78).

botvinnik pic

Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik
6th World Champion *
1948 - 1957  |  1958 - 1960  |  1961 - 1963

When Alexander Alekhine died (he had regained the title from Euwe earlier), FIDE took control of the title and held a match in The Hague and Moscow to determine a new champion. Mikhail Botvinnik won the five-player event with 14 out of 20 points.

smyslov pic

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov
7th World Champion *
1957 - 1958

Vasily Smyslovs great endgame skill was the main reason he defeated Botvinnik for the title in 1957 by the score 12.5–9.5  and yet he played three matches against Mikhail Botvinnik for the title over the years 1954- 58. He lost the title back to Botvinnik in 1958.

tal pic

Mikhail Nekhemievich Tal
8th World Champion *
1960 - 1961

Mikhail Tal from Riga, Latvia returned from Moscow with the tile after defeating Mikhail Botvinnik by 12.5 to 8.5 (6 wins, 2 losses, and 13 draws) in 1960. He was world champion for one year after losing the championship title back to Botvinnik in 1961.

smyslov pic

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
9th World Champion *
1963 - 1969

Tigran Petrosian defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1963 with a 12 - 9 score. He retained his championship in a match against Spassky in 1966 by a 12 - 11 score. Petrosian won the Soviet championship four times and loved constricted and cramped positions .

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