The Top 11 Defensive Chess Players Of All Time

This is my subjective list of who I think are the best defensive players. It’s very hard to objectively compare the defensive skills of different players across different eras.

As with all aspects of chess I think defensive skills have improved with the invention of computer chess and the introduction of engines to help us analyse our games.

With that being said I believe players should still be judged by what they did against their contemporaries. Once again this list is highly subjective, if you have your own list please post it in the comment section below.

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15 Comments

  1. Not even Korchnoi? his whole strategy was to take poisoned pawns and use his extremely good defensive skills to survive and head to an endgame with more material

  2. Very good. You say “subjective” list, but it seemed very accurate. 😆😆

    I’d say an honorable mention is Schlechter, who, I believe, was called the greatest defender of all time before Petrosian came around.

    And definitely, it’s indeed difficult to list people from different eras, especially with computer analysis making current players “better” defenders.

    Otherwise great list and I’m sure most of us thought Petrosian would be first as soon as we saw the list name.

    Great work and looking forward to any potential other lists you may make.

    Regards SP! 🙂

  3. I think you forgot to mention Bronstein, mikhail Tal, Alexander Alekhine, Botvinnik, Rubinstein and Ding Liren in your Top 11 list.

  4. Where is Bobby Fischer? Also, the presenter confuses drawing propensity with defensive ability. Playing safe moves while striving to avoid risk is entirely different from defensive ability.

  5. Did you read the title? Defensive style 🙂 M Tal can not fit in this top

  6. Haha, this is not your opinion. This is the reality! Great video

  7. Very well done but I would have rated car pull up a little higher

  8. 11. Viswanathan Anand
    10. Anish Giri
    9. Sergey Karjakin
    8. Anatoly Karpov
    7. Jose Raul Capablanca
    6. Magnus Carlsen
    5. Ulf Andersson
    4. Peter Leko
    3. Vladimir Kramnik
    2. Emanuel Lasker
    1. Tigran Petrosian

  9. Good commentary but you have Karpov much too low.

  10. Great list! I´m not sure about Lasker at no.2, though. Robert Hübner said that Lasker´s most definite weakness in chess was to defend against a direct kingside attack. Doesn´t sound like the second best defender in history to me.
    But anyway, nice to hear your opinion!

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