Who are the greatest chess players of all time? It’s a question that has often been asked and debated among chess players and fans alike.
Every great player must have something unique to offer. To honor their accomplishments, here I have compiled a list of the highest-rated chess players ever.
This list features players worldwide who have each made unique contributions to the game. Join me while I introduce the top five highest-rated chess players ever!
Magnus Carlsen – #1 Highest Rated Chess Player
Magnus Carlsen is number one on the list of highest-rated chess players ever. A Norwegian Grandmaster, Carlsen has had an outstanding career in chess, becoming world champion at age 19 and maintaining his title for over a decade.
He is known for his aggressive playing style and accurate calculation of moves. At 13, Carlsen became a Grandmaster — the highest title a chess player can have — and was included in FIDE’s top 100 list at 14 years old.
Carlsen defeated Indian Vishwanathan Anand in 2013 to win the FIDE World Chess Championship for the first time, which he has held ever since. With an impressive rating of 2882, Carlsen is currently the world’s highest-rated chess player by far.
Garry Kasparov – #2 Highest Rated Chess Player
Garry Kasparov was born in 1963 in the Soviet Union and has been deemed one of the greatest players of all time. He was the first player to achieve a rating over 2800 and went on to become the highest-rated player in history.
Kasparov won 15 consecutive professional tournament victories from 1981–1990, a feat equaled by nobody. He created his own school for chess talent, “Chess University,” where he trained players such as Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik.
Kasparov retired from active play in 2005 and now focuses more on writing books about chess and advocating for chess to be taught in schools. He is also an activist and public speaker on political issues such as human rights violations in Russia.
- The first world champion (1985-1993)
- Held world #1 ranking for 225 out of 228 months
- Won 15 consecutive professional tournaments (1981-1990)
- Highest rating ever achieved (2851)
Fabiano Caruana – #3 Highest Rated Chess Player
Fabiano Caruana was born in 1992 and is an Italian-American Grandmaster. Caruana is considered one of the best players in recent history due to a series of impressive performances that he has been able to string together.
In 2018, he famously entered a world-record-breaking streak by defeating 28 opponents in a row to win a World Championship title.
In 2019, Caruana won tournaments such as the Tata Steel Chess Tournament and the FIDE Grand Prix Series, which further solidified his position as one of the top players on the international chess stage.
In addition, Caruana has won numerous rapid and blitz tournaments throughout his career. Caruana’s personal best rating of 2844 makes him one of the highest-scoring players in chess worldwide.
Caruana is currently part of what has become known as The Magnificent Seven. The seven grandmasters who have reached or were close to reaching the number one status. There is no doubt it will be exciting to follow his career as he continues battling alongside this elite group of players!
Levon Aronian – #4 Highest Rated Chess Player
As the fourth highest-rated chess player of all time, Levon Aronian is a superstar in the chess world. Born in Yerevan in Armenia in 1982, he was just 11 years old when he learned to play chess by watching his older brother. Less than 10 years later, he was already competing internationally.
The Armenian Grandmaster quickly made a name for himself in the international chess circuit. He is an eight-time Armenian Chess Champion and has won dozens of international tournaments, including the Corus Chess Tournament, FIDE Grand Prix series, and World Rapid Chess Championships.
Aronian’s highest rating was 2830 Elo points in November of 2016, making him one of only four players to achieve a rating above 2800! He has been considered a potential world champion since his teenage years.
Aronian is best known for his aggressive attacking style and deep positional understanding of the game. His love for navigating difficult positions and creating challenging puzzles for his opponents makes him an exciting player to watch! He also plays incredibly fast—making decisions faster than most other players.
Although Aronian has no official global championship titles yet (though he has come close!), most experts agree that he will be remembered as a great contributor to the legacy of modern-day chess—and one of the highest-rated players ever!
Bobby Fischer – #5 Highest Rated Chess Player
Bobby Fischer has an impressive 2785 rating. He was a master of the game and had a lifelong fascination with chess, eventually leading him to become one of the best players in history.
A prodigy from an early age, Fischer began playing chess when he was six and skyrocketed through the ranks. By 14, he had become the youngest grandmaster in history, and at 15, he became US Champion.
At 17, in 1972, Fischer achieved his greatest success when he won the World Chess Championship against Boris Spassky, becoming the first American-born world champion.
Fischer was also known for his innovative approach to chess. In addition to inventing new opening strategies (notably his “Bobby Fischer Opening”), he was one of the first players to use computer analysis while studying chess games.
Throughout his career, Bobby Fischer’s love of chess never wavered — even after his retirement in 1975 — and will continue to inspire generations of players for years to come.
From Bobby Fischer’s domination in the ’60s and ’70s to Magnus Carlsen’s brilliant all-round play today, these five players have set a standard for excellence that all chess players should strive to match.
The five highest-rated chess players of all time are indeed champions at the game, each having left their mark on the chess world. As we continue to celebrate the game’s history, their legacies will endure and inspire generations of future grandmasters.
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