The history of the top chess players over time

Note: The y-axis is a rating of how well chess players compete against each other. This rating varies over time, from EDO to CMR to ELO, because different data sources cover different periods of time.

•••••••••••• Music By •••••••••••••
‘Mind Over Matter”
Jay Man – OurMusicBox

“Rynos Theme” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

•••••••••••• Data Sources •••••••••••••
EDO Historical Chess Ratings by Rod Edwards (1809-1920)

ChessMetrics Performance Ratings by Jeff Sonas (1910-2005)
(mistakenly says 1915 in the video)

ELO ratings from the FIDE website (2000-2016)

I used cubic interpolation between data points when necessary (EDO and ELO) and applied a 6-month blur to the CMR data to make the lines smoother and easier to follow.

90 Comments

  1. Is is a work of art. Can you release a video of how you did it

  2. Paul Keres was undoubtedly the best player to have never topped the list, and he would have if he wasn't forced to throw the 1948 championships by the Soviets

  3. Most of the greatest chess player of all time lists are either the greatest chess player of current time or the greatest American chess player of all time. Making the list with accuracy doesn't make sense either because the game is evolving as time goes. The most objective list should be made by measuring how long they were dominant in their times. Below is top 33 greatest chess players of all time including all World Chess Champions.
    33. Alexander Khalifman(Russia): Khalifman was one time World Chess Champion.
    32. Ruslan Ponomariov(Ukrania): Ponomariov was one time World Chess Champion.
    31. Rustam Kasimdzhanov(Uzbekistan): Kasimdzhanov was one time World Chess Champion.
    30. Ding Liren(China): Ding is one time and reigning World Chess Champion.
    29. Vasily Smyslov(Russia): Smyslov was dominant for 1 year after defeating Botvinnik.
    28. Mikhail Tal(Latvia): Tal was dominant for 1 year after defeating Botvinnik.
    27. Vladimir Kramnik(Russia): Kramnik was dominant for 1 year by being ranked world number one for 6 months after Kasparov and before Kasparov. Kramnik was also 3 times World Chess Champion.
    26. Max Euwe(Netherlands): Euwe was dominant for 2 years after defeating Alekhine.
    25. Viswanathan Anand(India): Anand was dominant for 2 years as being ranked world number one for 1 year 3 months after Topalov and before Topalov. Anand was often overrated because he was 5 times World Chess Champion, but World Chess Championship became mere symbolic after FIDE ranking system was introduced to measure rankings.
    24. Boris Spassky(Russia): Spassky was dominant for 3 years from the time defeating Petrosian to the time being defeated by Fischer.
    23. Paul Morphy(USA): Morphy was dominant for 4 years from the time he defeated Anderssen and to the time Anderssen won London tournament. Morphy has been overrated by Americans and often goes to the top of the greatest chess players list just because he is American. What if he had kept playing?
    22. Robert Fisher(USA): Fischer was dominant for 4 years as being ranked world number one for 4 years after defeating Spassky and before Karpov. Fischer has been overrated by Americans and often goes to the top of the greatest chess players list just because he is American. What if he had kept playing?
    21. Veselin Topalov(Bulgaria): Topalov was dominant for 4 years as being ranked world number one for 2 years and 3 months after Kasparov and before Carlsen.
    20. Jose Raul Capablanca(Cuba): Capablanca was dominant for 6 years from the time defeating Lasker to the time being defeated by Alekhine. What if there were not the war?
    19. Tigran Petrosian(USA): Petrosian was dominant for 6 years from the time defeating Botvinnik to the time being defeated by Spassky.
    18. Howard Staunton(England): Staunton was dominant for 8 years from the time defeating Fournier to the time being defeated by Anderssen.
    17. Johannes Zukertort(Germany): Zukertort was dominant for 8 years from the time winning Paris tournament to the time being defeated by Steinitz.
    16. Anatoly Karpov(Russia): Karpov was dominant for 8 years as being ranked world number one for 8 years after Fischer and before Kasparov. Karpov was ranked world number one for total 9 years and 6 months.
    15. Magnus Carlsen(Norway): Carlsen has been dominant for 14 years as being ranked world number one for 13 years 3 months. Carlsen is most overrated and often goes to the top of the greatest chess players list just because he is the current number one player. Will he continue being ranked world number one and go up in this list or will he stop?
    14. Ruy Lopez de Segura(Spain): Lopez was dominant for 15 years from the time he played in Rome to the time he was defeated by Leonardo. What if there were regularly held championship tournaments?
    13. Gioachino Greco(Italy): Greco was dominant for 15 years from the time defeating Salvio to his death. What if he had lived longer?
    12. Alexandre Deschapelles(France): Deschapelles was dominant for 15 years from the time he played in Germany to the time he was defeated by La Bourdonnais. What if he hadn't insisted on giving his opponents odds?
    11. Adolf Anderssen(Germany): Anderssen was dominant for 15 years from the time winning London tournament to the time being defeated by Steinitz. What if Morphy had kept playing?
    10. Mikhail Botvinnik(Russia): Botvinnik was dominant for 15 years from the time winning 1948 Championship Tournament to the time being defeated by Petrosian.
    9. Louis-Charles Mahe de La Bourdonnais(France): La Bourdonnais was dominant for 20 years from the time defeating Deschapelles to his death. What if he had lived longer?
    8. Alexander Alekhine(France): Alekhine was dominant for 20 years from the time defeating Capablanca to his death. What if there were not the war?
    7. Alessandro Salvio(Italy): Salvio was dominant for 22 years from the time defeating Boi to the time being defeated by Greco. What if there were regularly held championship tournaments?
    6. Gary Kasparov(Russia): Kasparov was dominant for 22 years as being ranked world number one for 20 years 3 months after Karpov and before Topalov. Kasparov is the greatest chess player of current time but he is overrated by current list creators and often goes to the top of the greatest chess player of all time list. What if he had kept playing?
    5. Giovanni Leonardo(Italy): Leonardo was dominant for 23 years from the time winning Madrid tournament to his death. What if he had lived longer?
    4. Legall de Kermeur(France): Legall was dominant for 25 years from the time he played in Cafe de la Regence to the time he was defeated by Philidor. What if there were regularly held championship tournaments?
    3. Emanuel Lasker(Germany): Lasker was dominant for 27 years from the time defeating Steinitz to the time being defeated by Capablanca. What if there were not the war?
    2. Wilhelm Steinitz(USA): Steinitz was dominant for 28 years from the time defeating Anderssen to the time being defeated by Lasker. Steinitz is the most underrated chess player, especially by Americans who need to undermine him in order to make Morphy somehow significant.
    1. Francois-Andre Danican Philidor(France): Philidor was dominant for 41 years from the time defeating Legall to his death and by far the greatest chess player of all time.

  4. Can you share the whole graph? At one scale and image.

  5. Just imagine if Fischer didn't go insane and played for another 20 years what that man could've accomplished. Poor tormented soul.

  6. There is a flag of Yugoslavia, but there is no USSR. unreliable

  7. Aleksei Kopev tried and immediately snapped out of existence💀💀

  8. They should update this video to demonstrate Carlsen’s dominance.

  9. bro Karpov just went whoosh down the ratings

  10. We need an up date.
    My hero’s the best in the world genius.
    Murphy. Lasker. Alekine. Tal. Kasparov. Carlsen and Fisher.

  11. Shoutout to aleksei kopev who appeared less than a millisecond at the beginning of the graph (0:09)

  12. Entre 1964 y 1969 el mejor Spassky despachó sin contemplaciones, en los matches de Candidatos, a Keres, Geller (dos veces) Tal, Larsen y Korchnoi, hasta derrotar a Petrosian y proclamarse campeón del mundo. Ese recorrido es más impresionante que el de Fischer cuando derrotó a unos decadentes Taimanov, Larsen y Petrosian en 1971, hasta vencer a un irreconocible Spassky en la final de 1972. Los datos, por muy objetivos que sean, no siempre se ajustan a la realidad de las cosas

  13. The difference between fisher an the rest at his peak is insane! Sadly was too short

  14. My man mikhail tal just sacrifices ruling more years

  15. Robert James Fischer; or, Bobby Fischer to his friends in the Chess World, is – to me – the World Chess Champion GENIUS of the world chess champion geniuses – of all time. How come? Why?

    Fischer Thinking Chess System embraces

    * The combined "prodigious chess thinking" of:

    Emanuel Lasker

    Jose Raul Capablanca

    Mikhail Tal. And,

    * The subtle original mathematical thinking of:

    Isaac Newton

    Leonhard Euler

    Carl Friedrich Gauss

    James Clerk Maxwell,

    GF Bernhard Riemann; and that of

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    THEREFORE,

    Despite all his faults as a 'human being', he lives in his own human capacity in quest for INNER truth, beauty & goodness of life in the context of humanity of a true world peace to find the heart of true human joy – which to his mind & soul, he could do it humbly in the arts & science of Chess by his own talents & genius – showing to the World he loves that, again, despite being son of broken family, & a high school dropout in his limited capacity to live normal schooling life as much as he still lives at peace with everyone, and to Michael TahL [ who is his chess close friend; and to Philippine Chess Legend. The 1st Asian Chess Grandmaster in 1972, at age: 22 yrs old! And In 2021, Eugene Torre was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame. He served as Bobby Fischer's second in the 1992 match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia. that is, Eugene Torre is Fischer closest friend in the Chess World, up to the time Fischer sadly expired on January 17, 2008, Fischer & GM Torre had been communicating from hearts of brothers on Earth], yes, despite all these facts & most unfortunate events in his life, still & yet still, it remains that:

    Robert James Fischer is the Greatest Chess Champion Genius of all time on Earth

    – whose human heart & soul of a child has long been wishing a World of True Peace; dreaming a World of True Humanity – from the core of his heart & greatest innermost dream of his most suffering spirit filled with more than 2,785 WHY's and Why's and why's …

    Thank you all; thank you Booby, RIP. Gpw Bernard Bautista Rementilla

  16. 4:44 Garry Kasparov becomes #1
    5:21 Garry Kasparov has left.
    THIRTY SEVEN SECONDS. WOW.

  17. It makes no sense combine different rating systems over time. Botvinnik may have been similarly dominant, but he did not have the same actual level of play as Carlsen.

  18. How can I make the same animation? I need to show how the number of fide memberes was changing. I'll be very thankful if someone gives me any information.

  19. Everyody who got to have a picture:
    Alexander Petrov
    Aaron Alexandre
    Alexandre Deschapelles
    Louis de la Bourdonnais
    Howard Staunton
    Tassilo von der Lasa
    Paul Morphy
    Ignatz Kolisch
    Wilhelm Steinitz
    Siegbert Tarrasch
    Emanuel Lasker
    José Capablanca
    Efim Bogoljubov
    Alexander Alekhine
    Max Euwe
    Mikhail Botvinnik
    David Bronstein
    Vasily Smyslov
    Samuel Reshevsky
    Mikhail Tal
    Tigran Petrosian
    Bobby Fischer
    Boris Spassky
    Anatoly Karpov
    Garry Kasparov
    Veselin Topalov
    Viswanathan Anand
    Magnus Carlsen

  20. Gary Kasparov is the other name of the chess.

  21. Hats off to the GOATs:
    Morphy
    Lasker
    Capablanca
    Alekhine
    Fischer
    Karpov
    Kasparov
    Carlsen

  22. That meteoric rise at 4:24 must have been his 6+ year winning streak.

  23. Poor Bobby be playing chess up there all by himself for like 6+ years. Not any of the hundreds of Soviet Grandmasters could beat him. No wonder he got depressed. 😢

  24. @Abacaba Doesn't this video say that both Botvinnik (2882) and Kasparov (2882) have a higher peak than Carlsen (2878)

  25. The Greatest of all times is Emanuel Lasker 27 yrs World Chess ♟️ Champion 🏆, no body will ever come close EVER!

  26. WowCarlos Torre only 21 years in 1925 and all above 40yld, and he desapear why? 03:13

  27. Feeling extremely nostalgic 🙁
    I remember watching this video in 2016 , when it was 2 months old…
    8th April 2024.

  28. Vishwanathan anand 🇮🇳🇮🇳 top 10 for 30 years

  29. Petrov, Steinitz, Lasker, Keres, Karpov, Anand – a chain from 1807 to 2016 of people who used to share top 10.

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