World Chess Champions

Print Friendly


First World Chess Championships existed even before the establishment of FIDE. These championships were conducted on a rather informal basis, and the formal system of qualification was only introduced after FIDE founding. Nevertheless, the best players until World War II were Anderssen, Lasker, Morphy, Steinitz, Capablanca, Alekhine and Euwe.

Even though there were some attempts of forming an international chess federation, the world did not meet appropriate chess organization before the establishment of FIDE. This caused the creation of FIDE’s World Championship and their particular system. From 1948 to 1972 all the champions were from the Soviet Union like Yuri Averbakh, Mikhail Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky. This period of Soviet dominance caused controversial opinions and conspiracy theories, which later proved to be justified. The only non-Soviet chess player to break the dominance from 1948 to 1993 was Robert Bobby Fischer who was the World Champion from 1972 to 1975. After Fischer, the era of the most popular chess players begins – first Anatoly Karpov from 1975 to 1985, then Garry Kasparov from 1985 to 1993. The two legends fought five close World Championship matches. The match from 1984 was controversially terminated, while in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1990 Kasparov won titles.

After 1993 World Championship was split into two different competitions. There was FIDE World Championship and Classic World Championship. Both competitions were held until 2006 with 6 FIDE World Champions and only 2 Classic World Champions. In the first competition, the dominance of Karpov continued from 1993 to 1999. Other FIDE World Champions were Alexander Khalifman from Russia, Viswanathan Anand from India, Ruslan Ponomariov from Ukraine, as well as Rustam Kasimdzhanov from Uzbekistan, and Veselin Topalov from Bulgaria. On the other hand, Classic World Championship continued the domination of Kasparov who was the champion until 2000. Vladimir Kramnik from Russia was the champion from 2000 to 2006.

After 2006, the title was once again reunified and the reunification match was played by Topalov and Kramnik which made Vladimir Kramnik the first unified World Champion since Kasparov. From 2007 to 2013 the World Champion was once again Anand, while Magnus Carlsen from Norway currently holds the title.