Table of Contents
Magnus Carlsen is still a top player, but there are several other top players to consider as well. Those names include Mikhail Tal and Wesley So. Read on to learn more about these players. You might even recognize some of them. But who should be considered the top player of our time?
Magnus Carlsen is one of the most outstanding chess players of all time. He has held the world number one spot since 2010 and is the reigning World Champion. His dominance in positional chess and ability to outplay his opponents are what define his style of play. He is positional and values overall control of the board and attacks the opponent’s pieces.
He was not naturally interested in chess, and his interest was initially sparked by sibling rivalry. At seven, Magnus started watching his father play the game, and at eight he beat his sister Ellen. Afterward, he began to play chess tournaments, and soon beat kids his age. He soon began beating more advanced children and eventually beat experienced adults in a year.
Tal’s chess style was one of the most unique and interesting in history. His games were full of attack, initiative, and vigor. Throughout his 41-year career, he won over 65 percent of his games. Tal regarded the game as an art, and he would often play blitz games against weaker players for fun.
Tal was born in Riga, Latvia in 1936. His unique tactical style led to him becoming the world champion at the young age of 23. He is also a noted author and coach. His books are full of fascinating stories about his career. Despite his age, he was able to win two world championships and the Soviet Championship twice.
Despite several health issues, Tal was an elite player. He held the record for the longest unbeaten streak in competitive chess history, with 95 games between 23 October 1973 and 16 October 1974. The record was broken by Ding Liren, who won one hundred games in a row between 9 August and 11 November 2018. Tal was also one of the world’s best chess writers.
Vladimir Kramnik is one of the world’s best chess players. He is the only world champion born in the 1970s and has two world titles to his name, one classical and one undisputed. He has been among the top players for almost two decades and was born in Tuapse, Russia. He studied under Mikhail Botvinnik and won the 1991 Youth Championship.
Kramnik first reached the top 100 in January 1992 and has remained in the top 100 ever since. In 2013, he reached the top 10, but he failed to qualify for the 2017 candidates’ tournament in Moscow. In 2014, Kramnik and his fellow Siberians won gold at the Russian team championship. His rise to the top level continued, and he finished equal second in the Altibox Norway tournament and reached world number one twice in the same year.
Wesley So has become one of the most successful chess players in recent years, winning the London Chess Classic and the Sinquefield Cup. He also finished second in the Your Next Move Leuven rapid and blitz tournaments, and won the Grand Chess Tour in 2016. He also won individual gold on board three for the United States in the 42nd Chess Olympiad. In addition, he is one of the few American players to have reached the top ELO rating of 2800.
In March 2016, So won the Samford Fellowship, securing Vladimir Tukmakov as his coach. He also finished clear first in the Sinquefield Cup in 2016, ahead of former World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov. He also placed ahead of 2015 winner Fabiano Caruana and 2014 winner Levon Aronian. So won two games and drew seven games in the tournament.
Jose Raul Capablanca
One of the most influential chess players of all time, Jose Raul Capablanca became one of the top players in the world during his time. He was born in Cuba in 1895 and spent the early part of his life studying and competing. He studied at Columbia University for a semester before deciding to give chess his full-time attention.
Capablanca grew up in Havana, Cuba, and started learning the game from his father at an early age. At thirteen, he won a match against the Cuban champion Juan Corzo and moved to the United States to continue his studies. A few years later, he became a member of the Manhattan Chess Club and became the club’s best player. In 1909, he knocked out US Champion Frank Marshall in an exhibition match. He won eight games to one.