World Chess Champion by Year

World Chess Champion by Year

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the World Chess Championship, where we take a closer look at the champions who have dominated the chess world throughout the years. As a game of strategic brilliance and intellectual prowess, chess has captivated players and enthusiasts alike for centuries. The World Chess Championship is the ultimate battleground where the greatest minds in chess compete to claim the prestigious title.

In this article, we will explore the history of the World Chess Championship, including the pre-FIDE era and the modern era after FIDE’s involvement. We will delve into the notable champions and their contributions to the game, as well as the memorable matches that have defined this esteemed tournament. Join us as we uncover the fascinating world of chess champions and their journey towards greatness.

Key Takeaways:

  • The World Chess Championship is a prestigious tournament where the best chess players compete for the ultimate title.
  • The history of the championship dates back to the 19th century.
  • Pre-FIDE champions like Louis de la Bourdonnais and Paul Morphy held unofficial world champion titles.
  • FIDE organized World Championships from 1948 to 1990.
  • Notable champions include Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, and Magnus Carlsen.

History of the World Chess Championship

The World Chess Championship has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. The first match recognized as a world championship took place in 1886 between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort. Steinitz emerged victorious, becoming the inaugural world champion in chess.

During the early years of the championship, the reigning champion held significant control over the terms of the matches. From 1886 to 1946, any challenger had to raise a substantial stake and defeat the reigning champion in a match to claim the title.

Following the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946, the administration of the World Chess Championship was handed over to the International Chess Federation (FIDE). This marked a turning point in the championship’s history as FIDE took responsibility for organizing and managing the prestigious event.

“The World Chess Championship has witnessed the rise and fall of legendary chess players, capturing the minds and hearts of millions of enthusiasts worldwide.” – Grandmaster Garry Kasparov

Throughout the years, the World Chess Championship has provided a platform for chess masters to showcase their exceptional skills and strategic brilliance. The championship has become a revered event, attracting global attention and solidifying its position as the pinnacle of excellence in the chess world.

Powered by the Chess World Champions Database, the championship’s history paints a captivating picture of the evolution of chess and the champions who have left an indelible mark on the game.

Year World Champion
1886 Wilhelm Steinitz
1894 Emmanuel Lasker
1921 Jose Capablanca
1927 Alexander Alekhine
1948 Mikhail Botvinnik
1975 Anatoly Karpov
1985 Garry Kasparov
2000 Vladimir Kramnik
2013 Viswanathan Anand
2013 Magnus Carlsen
2023 Ding Liren

The table above provides a snapshot of some of the notable world champions and the years in which they claimed the prestigious title. Each champion has made invaluable contributions to the game, shaping its evolution and inspiring generations of chess players.

Pre-FIDE World Chess Champions

Before FIDE took over the World Championship, several legendary Chess Grandmasters held unofficial world champion titles. Their contributions to the game and their strategic brilliance have left an indelible mark on the history of the World Chess Championship.

Some of the notable Pre-FIDE World Chess Champions include:

  • Louis de la Bourdonnais
  • Paul Morphy
  • Wilhelm Steinitz

These Chess Grandmasters were considered the strongest players of their time, dominating the chess scene with their exceptional skills and tactical prowess. Although their titles were unofficial, their matches and tournaments played a significant role in shaping the World Chess Championship as we know it today.

“Chess is a battle on a chessboard waged between two minds.”

– Louis de la Bourdonnais

These Chess Grandmasters exemplified the highest level of skill and strategic thinking in the game, inspiring generations of chess enthusiasts. They laid the foundation for future Chess Grandmasters and set the stage for the competitive nature of the World Chess Championship.

FIDE World Chess Championships (1948-1990)

From 1948 to 1990, the chess world witnessed a series of highly anticipated and fiercely contested FIDE World Chess Championships. These championships, organized by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), showcased the exceptional skills and strategic brilliance of some of the greatest chess players in history.

During this period, the World Chess Championship title was held by a select few players who etched their names in the annals of chess history. Let’s take a closer look at some of the champions who emerged victorious:

Mikhail Botvinnik: The first FIDE World Chess Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, held the title from 1948 to 1957, and then reclaimed it after winning a rematch against Vasily Smyslov in 1958. Botvinnik’s deep understanding of the game and his relentless pursuit of excellence made him a formidable opponent.

Anatoly Karpov: Following Botvinnik’s reign, Anatoly Karpov took over as the World Chess Champion. Karpov’s mastery of positional play and his ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses earned him the title, which he held from 1975 to 1985. His rivalry with Garry Kasparov captivated the chess world and produced some of the most memorable matches in history.

Garry Kasparov: Regarded as one of the greatest chess players of all time, Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22. His aggressive and dynamic style of play revolutionized the game and inspired a generation of chess enthusiasts. Kasparov defended his title successfully multiple times, cementing his status as a true chess genius.

The FIDE World Chess Championships during this era followed a three-year cycle, with the reigning champion defending their title against a challenger determined through Candidates Tournaments. These tournaments featured some of the most talented chess players vying for the opportunity to challenge the reigning champion.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the champions and their respective title victories:

Year Champion
1948-1957 Mikhail Botvinnik
1958-1960 Mikhail Botvinnik
1961-1963 Mikhail Tal
1963-1969 Tigran Petrosian
1969-1972 Boris Spassky
1972-1975 Bobby Fischer
1975-1985 Anatoly Karpov
1985-2000 Garry Kasparov

Notable Matches and Rivalries

The FIDE World Chess Championships from 1948 to 1990 witnessed several remarkable matches and intense rivalries that captivated chess enthusiasts worldwide. The battles between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, in particular, showcased the highest level of chess mastery and strategic brilliance.

One of the most iconic matches in chess history was the 1972 encounter between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Dubbed the “Match of the Century,” this clash between the American prodigy and the Soviet champion captured the world’s attention and propelled chess into the global spotlight.

These historic encounters and rivalries served as catalysts for the development and popularity of chess, inspiring countless players to strive for excellence and pushing the boundaries of the game.

Split Titles and Unification

In 1993, there was a split in the chess world, with Garry Kasparov creating the Professional Chess Association (PCA) and organizing his own World Championship matches outside of FIDE. This led to a period of split titles until the unification of the titles in 2006.

The split in the chess world in 1993 created a division in the World Chess Championship. Garry Kasparov, considered one of the greatest chess players of all time, formed his own association, the Professional Chess Association (PCA). Kasparov’s decision to organize his own World Championship matches outside of FIDE resulted in a period of split titles.

During this time, Kasparov defended his title against challengers within the PCA, while FIDE organized separate World Championship events. This division caused confusion and controversy within the chess community, as there were two different champions recognized by different organizations.

“The split titles period created an unfortunate situation for the chess world. The absence of a unified World Chess Championship diminished the prestige and significance of the title. It also posed challenges for players and fans, as they had to navigate between different organizations.” – Chess Historian

The split titles period lasted for over a decade until the titles were finally unified in 2006. FIDE, the governing body of chess, and the PCA came to an agreement to reunite the World Chess Championship. This unification was a significant moment in chess history, as it brought back the integrity and prestige of the title.

The unified World Chess Championship has since been the pinnacle of chess competition, with the reigning champion recognized by both FIDE and the chess community as the true world champion. The unification has also made it easier for players, organizers, and fans to follow and support the world championship matches.

The split titles and subsequent unification have shaped the history of the World Chess Championship. It serves as a reminder of the importance of unity and collaboration in preserving the integrity and legacy of this prestigious title.

FIDE World Championships (1993-2006)

During the split titles period, FIDE organized its own World Championships. These championships featured different formats and had their own qualification cycles. Let’s take a look at some of the notable winners during this time:

Vladimir Kramnik

One of the prominent champions during this period was Vladimir Kramnik. He won the World Chess Championship in 2000 by defeating Garry Kasparov. Kramnik’s solid positional play and strategic acumen earned him the title.

Viswanathan Anand

Another great champion of the FIDE World Championships was Viswanathan Anand. He captured the title in 2000, 2007, 2008, and 2010. Anand’s dynamic style of play and deep understanding of the game propelled him to the pinnacle of chess.

Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov, known for his aggressive and ambitious play, won the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2005. His victory came after a grueling match against Viswanathan Anand, showcasing his tactical prowess and fighting spirit.

These champions left an indelible mark on the chess world during the FIDE World Championships from 1993 to 2006. Their achievements solidify their place among the chess grandmasters and add to the rich history of the World Chess Championship.

Post-Unification World Champions

After the unification of the World Chess Championship titles in 2006, several remarkable players have claimed the prestigious title. Let’s take a look at some of the notable post-unification world champions:

Vishwanathan Anand

Vishwanathan Anand, also known as “Vishy” Anand, became the World Chess Champion in 2007. Hailing from India, Anand is renowned for his tactical brilliance and versatility on the chessboard. He held the title for almost six years, successfully defending it against top-class opponents.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen, from Norway, is widely regarded as one of the greatest chess players of all time. Carlsen became the World Chess Champion in 2013, and his reign has been marked by exceptional strategic play and an unparalleled understanding of the game. Carlsen’s unique playing style has pushed the boundaries of chess and captivated fans worldwide.

Ding Liren

One of the rising stars in the chess world, Ding Liren from China emerged as the World Chess Champion in 2023. Known for his precise calculations and positional understanding, Ding Liren has made significant contributions to the game. As a global representative of the chess community, Ding Liren’s achievements have showcased the growing strength of Chinese chess players.

The post-unification world champions have each left their unique mark on the history of chess, inspiring players around the world to reach new heights of excellence. Their strategic brilliance and unwavering determination embodies the essence of chess as a game of intellectual depth and creative expression.

Notable World Championship Matches

Throughout the history of the World Chess Championship, there have been many notable matches that have captivated chess enthusiasts around the globe. These matches have showcased the incredible talent, strategic brilliance, and fierce rivalry among some of the greatest chess players of all time. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these historic encounters:

1. Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky (1972)

The 1972 World Chess Championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky is one of the most iconic in chess history. The Cold War backdrop and the intense battle between the American prodigy Fischer and the Soviet champion Spassky turned this match into a global spectacle. Fischer’s victory over Spassky marked a historic milestone for American chess and solidified his place as one of the greatest chess players of all time.

2. Anatoly Karpov vs. Garry Kasparov (1984-1990)

The epic battle between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov spanned multiple World Chess Championship matches from 1984 to 1990. Their rivalry was marked by intense strategizing, psychological warfare, and grueling battles on the chessboard. Karpov and Kasparov pushed each other to their limits, and their matches are considered some of the most fiercely fought in chess history.

3. Magnus Carlsen vs. Challengers

Magnus Carlsen, the current World Chess Champion, has faced a series of tough challenges throughout his reign. His matches against notable grandmasters such as Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Karjakin, and Fabiano Caruana have showcased Carlsen’s exceptional skills and his ability to adapt to different playing styles. Carlsen’s reign as World Champion has been marked by his dominance and his unique approach to the game.

These are just a few examples of the remarkable matches that have shaped the World Chess Championship’s rich history. Each encounter has been a testament to the incredible skill, strategic thinking, and mental fortitude of the players involved, making the World Chess Championship a true celebration of the game.

Other Chess World Championships

In addition to the World Chess Championship, chess enthusiasts and players can also participate in various other world championships that showcase different formats and categories. These championships provide opportunities for players to display their skills and talents in specific aspects of the game. Here are a few notable other chess world championships:

Rapid Chess Championships

Rapid chess is a form of chess where players have significantly less time to make their moves compared to standard chess. This fast-paced format requires quick thinking and decisive decision-making. The Rapid Chess World Championship attracts top players from around the globe.

Blitz Chess Championships

Blitz chess is an even faster-paced variant of chess, with players having only a few minutes to complete the entire game. This rapid format tests players’ ability to think on their feet, make rapid calculations, and rely on intuition and pattern recognition.

Women’s Chess Championships

Women’s chess championships provide a stage specifically for female chess players to compete against each other. These championships aim to promote and recognize the achievements of women in chess, as traditionally, the game has been male-dominated. Women’s chess championships highlight the exceptional skills and talents of female players in the sport.

Junior Chess Championships

Junior chess championships focus on nurturing and showcasing the talents of young chess players under a certain age category. These championships are crucial for identifying and developing young prodigies who may become future chess grandmasters. Junior chess championships inspire young players to pursue their passion for chess and provide them with invaluable opportunities to compete at an international level.

Computer Chess Championships

Computer chess championships are a unique category of world championships that feature the battle of artificial intelligence chess engines. These tournaments provide a platform for computer programmers and chess enthusiasts to compete and test the capabilities of their chess programs. Computer chess championships have been instrumental in advancing the field of AI and pushing the boundaries of computer chess.

Each of these world championships contributes to the diversity and richness of the chess world, showcasing the various dimensions of the game. Whether it’s the speed and tactical brilliance of rapid and blitz chess, the recognition of women’s achievements, the celebration of young talent, or the advancements in AI, these championships highlight the boundless possibilities within the world of chess.

Now, let’s take a look at a comparison table featuring some of the most recent winners and key details of these other chess world championships:

Championship Recent Winner Category
Rapid Chess Championship Magnus Carlsen Open
Blitz Chess Championship Liren Ding Open
Women’s Chess Championship Ju Wenjun Women
Junior Chess Championship Praggnanandhaa R Under 20
Computer Chess Championship Stockfish Engine

These recent winners exemplify the exceptional talent and dedication present in each respective category, showcasing the diverse and exciting nature of chess world championships beyond the World Chess Championship.

Legacy and Impact

The World Chess Championship holds a revered place in the history of chess and has had a profound impact on the development and evolution of the game. This prestigious tournament has inspired generations of chess players and aficionados worldwide, capturing their imaginations and fueling their passion for the intricate and strategic battles on the board.

With each new edition of the World Chess Championship, the reigning champion assumes the role of a chess grandmaster, embodying the pinnacle of skill and intellect in the game. These champions, through their remarkable achievements and contributions, have left an indelible mark on the history of chess.

Not only have the champions showcased their exceptional playing abilities, but they have also become symbols of intellectual prowess and strategic thinking. Their phenomenal skills and success have inspired aspiring players to push the boundaries of their own abilities, driving the advancement of chess as a whole.

The influence of these chess grandmasters extends beyond the tournament board. Their groundbreaking strategies, innovative approaches, and brilliant moves have transformed the way the game is played at both professional and casual levels. Their games and analyses have become valuable resources for chess enthusiasts seeking to deepen their understanding and improve their own gameplay.

“Chess is a beautiful combination of art, sport, and science. The champions of the World Chess Championship embody the essence of this game, captivating audiences with their strategic brilliance and creative genius.”

Furthermore, the World Chess Championship has played a pivotal role in highlighting the intellectual and cultural significance of chess. It has elevated chess from a recreational pursuit to a revered discipline, recognized for its profound impact on critical thinking, problem-solving, and cognitive skills.

Through their dedication and mastery of the game, the chess champions have not only elevated themselves to legendary status but have also inspired future generations of chess players to strive for excellence. The legacy of the World Chess Championship lives on as a testament to the enduring power of chess and its ability to captivate minds and hearts across the globe.

Chess Grandmasters Championship Achievements
Wilhelm Steinitz First World Chess Champion
Garry Kasparov Longest reigning world champion
Magnus Carlsen Current world chess champion
Vishwanathan Anand World Chess Champion (2007-2013)


The World Chess Championship has a rich and captivating history that spans over centuries. From the early years of unofficial titles to the modern era of highly competitive matches, this prestigious event has continuously evolved, leaving an indelible mark on the game of chess.

Each World Chess Champion, from Wilhelm Steinitz to Ding Liren, has brought their exceptional skills, strategic prowess, and unique playing styles to the forefront. Their contributions have solidified their places in chess history and inspired countless players worldwide.

Over the years, the World Chess Championship has witnessed numerous milestones, including the split titles and subsequent unification. These developments have shaped the course of the championship and allowed for new rivalries and exciting clashes between the greatest chess minds of each era.

The World Chess Champions List is a testament to the brilliance and dedication of these remarkable individuals. Their achievements have not only elevated the game but also made it an enduring symbol of intellectual prowess and strategic thinking. As we look back at the Chess Champions’ history, it is clear that their influence will continue to shape the future of chess for generations to come.


Who is the current World Chess Champion?

The current World Chess Champion is Ding Liren, who won the title in the 2023 World Chess Championship.

Who was the previous World Chess Champion?

The previous World Chess Champion was Magnus Carlsen.

When was the first recognized World Chess Championship held?

The first recognized World Chess Championship was held in 1886.

Who won the first recognized World Chess Championship?

Wilhelm Steinitz won the first recognized World Chess Championship.

Who organized the World Chess Championships from 1948 to 1990?

FIDE (International Chess Federation) organized the World Chess Championships from 1948 to 1990.

Who were some of the champions during this period?

Some of the champions during this period were Mikhail Botvinnik, Anatoly Karpov, and Garry Kasparov.

Why was there a split in the chess world in 1993?

There was a split in the chess world in 1993 when Garry Kasparov created the Professional Chess Association (PCA) and organized his own World Championship matches outside of FIDE.

Who were some of the winners during the split titles period?

Some of the winners during the split titles period were Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Veselin Topalov.

Who were some of the World Champions after the unification of the titles in 2006?

Some of the World Champions after the unification of the titles in 2006 were Vishwanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, and Ding Liren.

What are some notable World Championship matches?

Some notable World Championship matches include the famous 1972 match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, the intense battles between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, and the modern clashes between Magnus Carlsen and his challengers.

Are there any other chess world championships?

Yes, there are other chess world championships in various formats and categories, including rapid chess, blitz chess, women’s chess, junior chess, and computer chess championships.

How has the World Chess Championship impacted the game of chess?

The World Chess Championship has had a significant impact on the development of chess, inspiring generations of players and symbolizing intellectual prowess and strategic thinking.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *