Chess Players

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Players of the board game of chess are known as chess players. The game of chess is played by two players on a checkered board known as chessboard with 64 squares. Each player begins the game with 16 pieces of six types that are moved across the board according to certain rules with the aim to checkmate the opponent’s king. Chess is a very popular game played by millions around the world. Chess is believed to have its origins in 6th century Eastern India from where it gradually evolved to its modern form. The first modern chess tournament was held in the mid 19th century and from then on the popularity of the game has been on a rise. The official rules of the game are defined by the World Chess Federation. Several major championships are held every year which includes the World Chess Championship, Women’s World Championship, Junior World Championship, and the World Computer Chess Championship. Since chess is a strategic game that tests one’s mental ability, a chess player’s strength derives from his chess talent, mental agility, and character. This section provides you information about the life and works of various famous chess players from all over the world.

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 1 
Bobby Fischer
(American Chess Grandmaster and the Eleventh World Chess Champion)
Bobby Fischer
11
Birthdate: March 9, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 17, 2008

Bobby Fischer began as a chess prodigy in his teens and went on to become the youngest "grandmaster," at 15. His participation in a politically controversial match in Yugoslavia led to the revocation of his U.S. passport and his arrest. He spent the final years of his life in Iceland.

 2 
Magnus Carlsen
(One of the Best Chess Players of All Time)
Magnus Carlsen
8
Birthdate: November 30, 1990
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tønsberg Municipality, Norway

At 13, chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen became the youngest grandmaster. His rating of 2,872 was the highest ever in history. He also recorded the longest unbeaten run in chess. Named one of Cosmopolitan’s “sexiest men of 2013,”he  has also modeled for G-Star Raw, owns a chess-app company, and loves football.

 3 
Garry Kasparov
(Russian Chess Grandmaster and One of the Best Chess Players in History)
Garry Kasparov
10
Birthdate: April 13, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baku, Azerbaijan

Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess player. A grandmaster, Kasparov is a former World Chess Champion who was ranked No. 1 for 255 months during his career that spanned 21 years. After his retirement, Garry Kasparov focused on writing and politics; he founded a social movement called the United Civil Front, which is part of an opposition coalition in Moscow.

 4 
Viswanathan Anand
(First Indian Chess Grandmaster and Five-Time World Chess Champion)
Viswanathan Anand
6
Birthdate: December 11, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Madras, Tamil Nadu, India

Viswanathan Anand is an Indian chess player and former world champion. The first grandmaster from India, Anand is also one of the few chess players to have gone past an Elo rating of 2800, only the fourth player in history to do so. Renowned for his quick moves, Anand is widely regarded as the greatest rapid player of our time.

 5 
Hikaru Nakamura
(Chess Player)
Hikaru Nakamura
10
Birthdate: December 9, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
 6 
Anatoly Karpov
(One of the Greatest Chess Players of All Time)
Anatoly Karpov
6
Birthdate: May 23, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Zlatoust, Russia

Russian chess grandmaster, Anatoly Karpov, was the official world champion from 1975 to 1985, before finally being defeated by Garry Kasparov. With over 160 first-place finishes, Karpov is widely considered one of the greatest players in history. Since his retirement, he has involved himself in several humanitarian causes. He has an extensive stamp collection.

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 7 
Judit Polgár
(Chess player)
Judit Polgár
8
Birthdate: July 23, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
 8 
Boris Spassky
(Russian Chess Grandmaster)
Boris Spassky
7
Birthdate: January 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Boris Spassky is a Russian chess player who held the World Chess Championship title from 1969 to 1972. He was part of the famous World Chess Championship match in 1972 where he lost his championship title to Bobby Fischer of the United States. In Bobby Fischer's 2014 biopic Pawn Sacrifice, Boris Spassky is portrayed by American actor Isaac Liev Schreiber.

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 9 
Mikhail Tal
(Soviet-Latvian Chess Player Who Became the Youngest World Chess Champion at the age of 23)
Mikhail Tal
6
Birthdate: November 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Died: June 28, 1992

Mikhail Tal was a Soviet Latvian chess player. Widely regarded as one of the best attacking players and a creative genius, Tal was renowned for his unpredictability and improvisation. He was also known as the magician from Riga for his daring, combinatorial playing style. Since 2006, the Mikhail Tal Memorial has been annually held in Moscow to honor Tal's memory.

 10 
Fabiano Caruana
(Chess Player)
Fabiano Caruana
5
Birthdate: July 30, 1992
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
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 11 
Samuel Reshevsky
(Chess Player)
Samuel Reshevsky
6
Birthdate: November 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ozorków, Poland
Died: April 4, 1992
 12 
Alexander Alekhine
(Russian-French Former Chess Champion)
Alexander Alekhine
9
Birthdate: October 31, 1892
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 24, 1946

Alexander Alekhine was a French and Russian chess player renowned for his imaginative and fierce attacking style. He also possessed great positional and endgame skill, which he used effectively to reign as the World Chess Champion from 1927 to 1935 and then from 1937 to 1946. Also a theoretician, Alexander Alekhine innovated several opening variations, including the Alekhine's Defence.

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 13 
Levon Aronian
(Chess Player)
Levon Aronian
4
Birthdate: October 6, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yerevan, Armenia
 14 
Veselin Topalov
(Bulgarian Chess Grandmaster and Former FIDE World Chess Champion)
Veselin Topalov
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1975
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ruse, Bulgaria

Bulgarian chess Grandmaster Veselin Topalov is a former world number 1 and a FIDE World Chess Champion. Starting to play chess at age 8, he became a prodigy soon after. He has been part of 9 Chess Olympiads and also bagged the Chess Oscar in 2005.

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 15 
Tigran Petrosian
(Chess player, Writer)
Tigran Petrosian
4
Birthdate: June 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tbilisi, Georgia
Died: August 13, 1984
 16 
Wilhelm Steinitz
(Austrian-born American Chess Player and the First World Chess Champion)
Wilhelm Steinitz
3
Birthdate: May 14, 1836
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: August 12, 1900

Wilhelm Steinitz was an Austrian-born American chess player. He is recognized as the first World Chess Champion, having reigned from 1886 to 1894. A multi-talented personality, Wilhelm Steinitz was also an influential chess theoretician and writer. Steinitz is also remembered for having a huge impact on the game and was a well-known player during his time.

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 17 
Emanuel Lasker
(Chess player)
Emanuel Lasker
4
Birthdate: December 24, 1868
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Barlinek, Poland
Died: January 11, 1941
 18 
Mikhail Botvinnik
(Word Chess Champion Known for His Contribution to the Design of the World Chess Championship System)
Mikhail Botvinnik
4
Birthdate: August 17, 1911
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Repino, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: May 5, 1995

Soviet chess player Mikhail Botvinnik was a three-time World Champion. At 14, he defeated the reigning world champion José Raúl Capablanca in an exhibition match. He was also a skilled computer engineer. He adopted a scientific approach to chess and penned several books on chess, too.

 19 
Alexandra Botez
(Chess player)
Alexandra Botez
11
Birthdate: September 24, 1995
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States
 20 
Marcel Duchamp
(Artist Known for His Revolutionary Developments in the 'Plastic Arts' In the Early 20th Century)
Marcel Duchamp
4
Birthdate: July 28, 1887
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Blainville-Crevon, France
Died: October 2, 1968
French-American painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp is remembered for his association with movements such as Cubism and Dadaism. A significant figure in conceptual art, he was against art that was meant to just cater to the eyes. He was also a skilled chess player and carved his own chess set.
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 21 
Alexander Grischuk
(Chess Player)
Alexander Grischuk
4
Birthdate: October 31, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian super grandmaster Alexander Grischuk is also a three-time World Blitz winner and one of two people to have earned multiple blitz world titles. He has also won four World Team Chess Championship gold medals, including an individual medal, and two Olympiad gold medals. He is married to grandmaster Kateryna Lagno.

 22 
Phiona Mutesi
(Chess player)
Phiona Mutesi
4
Birthdate: January 6, 1996
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kampala, Uganda

Hailed as the Chess Queen of Africa, Phiona Mutesi rose from the Kampala slums to represent Uganda at the Women's Chess Olympiads. Her rags-to-riches story inspired a book and the 2016 Disney movie Queen of Katwe. A school drop-out, she was introduced to chess by a Christian sports mission.

 23 
Joshua Waitzkin
(One of the Most Accomplished and Dominant Youth Chess Champions of All Time)
Joshua Waitzkin
6
Birthdate: December 4, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Apart from being an International Master in chess, Joshua Waitzkin has also won several medals in the martial art Taiji and is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His life inspired the book Searching for Bobby Fischer and the movie of the same name. He has also penned two books.

 24 
Hou Yifan
(Chinese Chess Grandmaster and Second Highest Rated Female Player of All Time)
Hou Yifan
4
Birthdate: February 27, 1994
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Xinghua, China

Hou Yifan is a Chinese chess player who won two gold medals at the 2010 Asian Games. Hou, who achieved the grandmaster title in 2008, is the second-highest-rated female chess player ever. Hou is also the youngest ever player to win the Women's World Chess Championship title. She is also regarded as the greatest female chess player of her generation.

 25 
Ian Nepomniachtchi
(Russian Chess Grandmaster)
Ian Nepomniachtchi
5
Birthdate: July 14, 1990
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bryansk, Russia

Russian super grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi is known for winning titles such as the 2020/21 Candidates Tournament. He has a good record against world champions such as Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Garry Kasparov. He is also a professional player of the online strategy game Dota and plays on chess.com as lachesisq.

 26 
Vasily Smyslov
(Russian Chess Grandmaster)
Vasily Smyslov
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: March 27, 2010

While he created a record with his 17 Chess Olympiad medals, Russian grandmaster Vasily Smyslov has also been a World Chess Champion. He had begun playing chess at age 6, inspired by his chess player father. Initially an opera singer, he stepped into professional chess after being rejected in an audition.

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 27 
Boris Gelfand
(Chess player)
Boris Gelfand
3
Birthdate: June 24, 1968
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus

Legendary Soviet chess player Boris Gelfand is known for being part of the world’s top 20 players for most of his life. His accomplishments include two Belarusian national titles and a Chess World Cup. An author, too, he has co-written books such as Positional Decision Making in Chess.

 28 
Max Euwe
(World Chess Champion from 1935 to 1937)
Max Euwe
3
Birthdate: May 20, 1901
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: November 26, 1981

Max Euwe scripted history when he became the first chess Grandmaster from the Netherlands. A PhD in math, he also taught both math and computer programming, apart from publishing a mathematical analysis of chess. A chess world champion, he also served as the president of FIDE.

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 29 
Paul Keres
(Chess grandmaster)
Paul Keres
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1916
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Narva, Estonia
Died: June 5, 1975
 30 
Anna Rudolf
(Chess player)
Anna Rudolf
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Miskolc, Hungary
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 31 
Ding Liren
(Chess player)
Ding Liren
3
Birthdate: October 24, 1992
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wenzhou, China

At 16, Ding Liren became the youngest Chinese Chess Champion. He was also the first player to reach the World Cup finals twice back-to-back. The Chinese chess grandmaster is also a law school graduate. He remains the highest-rated chess player from his country and has won the Chinese Championship thrice.

 32 
José Raúl Capablanca
4
Birthdate: November 19, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: March 8, 1942
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 33 
Alireza Firouzja
(Chess player)
Alireza Firouzja
2
Birthdate: June 18, 2003
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Babol, Iran

Born in Iran, chess Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja initially represented his country but later began representing France. In 2021, he became the only teenager ranked among the world’s top 15 chess players. A 2-time Iranian champion, he has been a chess prodigy and had started training in chess at age 8.

 34 
Vladimir Kramnik
(Russian Chess Grandmaster)
Vladimir Kramnik
4
Birthdate: June 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tuapse, Russia

Vladimir Kramnik is a Russian chess player who was honored with the prestigious Grandmaster title in 1992. From 2000 to 2006, Kramnik held the Classical World Chess Championship title. From 2006 to 2007, he held the undisputed World Chess Championship title. He has also won three individual medals and three team gold medals at Chess Olympiads.

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 35 
Teimour Radjabov
(Chess player)
Teimour Radjabov
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1987
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Baku, Azerbaijan
 36 
Sergey Karjakin
(Russian Chess Grandmaster)
Sergey Karjakin
7
Birthdate: January 12, 1990
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Simferopol, Ukraine

Elite Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was 5 years of age when he began playing chess and a little over 12 when he made history by becoming the world’s youngest grandmaster. His skills have also earned him the nickname Minister of Defense. He is best known for his defenses against Magnus Carlsen.

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 37 
Wesley So
(Chess Player)
Wesley So
4
Birthdate: October 9, 1993
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines
 38 
Paul Morphy
(Chess player)
Paul Morphy
4
Birthdate: June 22, 1837
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: July 10, 1884
 39 
Aron Nimzowitsch
(Chess player)
Aron Nimzowitsch
3
Birthdate: November 7, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Died: March 16, 1935

Latvian-born Aron Nimzowitsch escaped to Berlin and then to Copenhagen to avoid being drafted into the army during the Russian Revolution. He is best known for his cult classic book My System, which promotes the Hypermodern school of chess. In spite of repeated attempts, he failed to secure a world title.

 40 
Howard Staunton
(Chess Master)
Howard Staunton
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1810
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Died: June 22, 1874
 41 
Qiyu Zhou
(Chess player)
Qiyu Zhou
5
Birthdate: January 6, 2000
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jingzhou, China

Chinese-born Canadian chess sensation Qiyu Zhou grew up in countries such as France and Finland and began learning chess at age 3. She won the Finnish U-10 championship at 5 and won the World Youth Chess Championship at 14. Known for her Twitch livestreams as akaNemsko, she is also Canada’s first woman grandmaster.

 42 
Viktor Korchnoi
(Soviet-Swiss Chess Grandmaster)
Viktor Korchnoi
5
Birthdate: March 23, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: June 6, 2016

Viktor Korchnoi was a writer and chess grandmaster. He is widely regarded as one of the best players never to have achieved the World Chess Championship title. He played chess until old age and became the oldest player to be ranked in the top 100 players list when he won the World Senior Chess Championship in 2006 at age 75.

 43 
Sopiko Guramishvili
(Chess player)
Sopiko Guramishvili
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1991
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
 44 
Nona Gaprindashvili
(Chess player)
Nona Gaprindashvili
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Zugdidi, Georgia
 45 
Ben Finegold
(Chess Player)
Ben Finegold
2
Birthdate: September 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 46 
Bent Larsen
(Chess player)
Bent Larsen
3
Birthdate: March 4, 1935
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Thisted, Denmark
Died: September 9, 2010
 47 
Emory Tate
(Chess player)
Emory Tate
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: October 17, 2015
 48 
Lyudmila Rudenko
(Chess player)
Lyudmila Rudenko
5
Birthdate: July 27, 1904
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lubny, Ukraine
Died: February 28, 1986

Ukrainian chess player Lyudmila Rudenko made history by becoming the second world women’s chess champion. Though she had begun playing chess as a child, she took it up seriously while on an economic planning meeting in Moscow. She also evacuated countless children during the Siege of Leningrad.

 49 
Anna Muzychuk
(Only the Fourth Woman in the History of Chess to Achieve a FIDE Rating of 2600 or More)
Anna Muzychuk
3
Birthdate: February 28, 1990
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union

Anna Muzychuk is a Ukrainian chess player who became only the fourth woman in the history of chess to achieve a FIDE rating of 2600 or more. Muzychuk, who attained the Grandmaster title in 2012, is a three-time fast chess world champion. 

 50 
László Polgár
(Chess player, Writer)
László Polgár
2
Birthdate: May 11, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gyöngyös, Hungary