Dive into The Games of World Chess Champions

Explore the fascinating history of world chess champions, hailed as the best in their prime. Whether you opt to play through or download these iconic games, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted entertainment without bothersome ads or pop-ups. Additionally, immerse yourself in these pure games, free from comments, for a top-notch and exclusive chess experience.

Those who were considered The World’s Greatest Chess Players in their prime

1559 – 1575 Ruy López de Segura (Spain)
Rodrigo ‘Ruy’ López de Segura (c. 1530 – c. 1580) was a Spanish chess maestro, author, and Catholic priest. Acknowledged as the ‘father of opening theory,’ his pivotal contributions shaped modern chess opening theory. He particularly influenced the King’s Gambit and the Ruy López opening, and his legacy as Spain’s chess champion for two decades remains unmatched. [game-link]

1575+ Leonardo di Bona and Paolo Boi (Sicily)
Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona, a distinguished early chess master from Sicily (now Italy), secured victory in the inaugural internationally recognized chess championship held in Madrid in 1575. Paolo Boi (1528–1598), also hailing from Sicily, participated in the same tournament and, along with Giovanni, achieved notable triumphs against Ruy López de Segura. This combined success propelled them to the forefront of chess during that era, earning both players the esteemed titles of the «Light» and «Lustre» in the noble game. [game-link]

1600+ Alessandro Salvio (Italy)
Dr. Alessandro Salvio, born around 1570, is recognized as the unofficial world champion of chess circa 1598. Hailing from Napoli, Italy, he founded an Italian chess academy in his hometown. In one of Salvio’s chess books, the famous Lucena Position was first documented in book form. [game-link]

1620 – 1634 Gioachino Greco (Italy)
Gioachino Greco (1600 – 1634) likely stood as the world’s best chess player towards the end of the Italian Chess Golden Age. Regarded as the first chess professional, his instructive game analyses, featuring both fictional and played games, demonstrated an outstanding understanding of combinations and tactics. Greco’s written contributions remained influential posthumously, with his innovation of recording complete games serving as a lasting legacy. [game-link]

1730 – 1755 Legall de Kermeur (France)
In the 18th century, the famous French chess player Legall de Kermeur gained recognition for his strategic masterpiece. This game is now known as «The Legall Trap». Furthermore, he passed on his chess knowledge to the later, even more famous chess player François-André Philidor. [game-link]

1755 – 1795 François-André Danican Philidor (France)
François-André Danican Philidor (1726–1795) gained recognition as the world’s strongest chess player after defeating the master Legall in 1755. The chess opening Philidor Defence, the endgame position Philidor’s Position, and Philidor’s mate, also known as Philidor’s legacy, are all named in his honor. The renowned Frenchman authored the influential chess book «Analyse du jeu des Échecs,» which saw multiple editions and translations into various languages. In addition to his chess prowess, Philidor was a prominent and leading music composer, particularly in the realm of opera. [game-link]

1815 – 1821 Alexandre Deschapelles (France)
Alexandre Deschapelles (1780–1847) was a distinguished French chess player and military officer. Notably, his strategic acumen on the chessboard complemented his military expertise, making him a formidable force both in and out of the chess arena. [game-link]

1821 – 1840 Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (France)
Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1795–1840) was a key figure in 19th-century chess development. Moreover, he is assumed to be the strongest player in the world from 1821 to 1840. [game-link]

The Romantic Era of Chess

At the inception of the Romantic Era of Chess, there was a notable emphasis on bold as well as daring play, highlighted by intricate combinations. Moreover, players adeptly showcased adventurous and aggressive styles, willingly sacrificing material for direct king assaults.

1843 – 1851 Howard Staunton
Howard Staunton (1810–1874) was a prominent English chess player, organizer, and leading chess commentator. Moreover, his contributions extended beyond the chessboard, making him a multifaceted figure in the world of chess. [game-link]

1851 – 1858 Adolf Anderssen (Preussia)
Adolf Anderssen was not only a professor in mathematics but also a Prussian (German) chess player known for his brilliant and tactical style of play. [game-link]

1858 – 1862 Paul Morphy (USA)
Paul Morphy was an American chess prodigy, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in history. Furthermore, his exceptional skills and strategic insights solidified his status as a chess legend. [game-link]

1862 – 1866 Adolf Anderssen (Preussia)

1866 – 1883 Wilhelm Steinitz (Austria-Hungary, United States)
An analysis of the historical records suggests that Wilhelm Steinitz was indeed one of the most dominant players in the history of chess. Notably, he maintained an unbeaten record in match play for an impressive 32 years, spanning from 1862 to 1894. [game-link]

1883 – 1886 Johannes Zukertort (England)
In 1886, a crucial moment transpired as Johannes Zukertort took on Wilhelm Steinitz in a vital chess match. Consequently, this momentous event marked the beginning of the first World Chess Championship. Despite Zukertort’s skill, Steinitz emerged as the winner. [game-link]

Undisputed World Chess Champions

1886 – 1894 Wilhelm Steinitz (Austria-Hungary, United States)
In the 19th century, Wilhelm Steinitz rose to become the first World Chess Champion. His innovative approaches not only transformed the game but also laid the foundation for modern strategic thinking. Steinitz not only secured the championship title but also profoundly influenced the strategic direction of chess. Furthermore, his impact extended beyond the 19th century, significantly shaping the approaches of future champions. [game-link]

1894 – 1921 Emanuel Lasker (Germany)
Emanuel Lasker, the 2nd World Chess Champion from 1894 to 1921, significantly influenced the chess world. During his reign, characterized by a profound philosophical approach, he skillfully integrated strategy and psychology, creating a unique chapter in the history of chess championships. [game-link]

1921 – 1927 José Raúl Capablanca (Cuba)
Capablanca, the 3rd World Chess Champion from 1921 to 1927, is celebrated for his outstanding endgame skills and, in addition, his rapid playing style. [game-link]

1927 – 1935 Alexander Alekhine (Russian Empire, France)
Aleksandr Alekhin, born in Moscow in 1892 as part of the Russian Empire, later became a French citizen. When he clinched the world championship in 1927, he was already regarded as French. [game-link]

1935 – 1937 Max Euwe (Netherlands)
Max Euwe, hailing from the Netherlands, held the title of World Chess Champion from 1935 to 1937 and later served as the President of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, from 1970 to 1978. [game-link]

1937 – 1946 Alexander Alekhine (Russian Empire, France)
Aleksandr Alekhin, held the World Chess Championship title twice: from 1927 to 1935 and 1937 to 1946. His crucial moment came in 1927 when he surprised the chess community by defeating Capablanca. Despite losing the title to Max Euwe in 1935, Alekhin made a comeback in 1937, retaining the championship until his death. [game-link]

The Onset of Soviet Union Chess Hegemony

1948 – 1957 Michail Botvinnik (Soviet Union)
Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik secured the world championship three times—first from 1948 to 1957, then from 1958 to 1960, and finally from 1961 to 1963. [game-link]

1957 – 1958 Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union)
Vasily Smyslov introduced an artistic dimension during his World Championship reign, showcasing the aesthetic side of the game. [game-link]

1958 – 1969 Michail Botvinnik (Soviet Union)

1960 – 1961 Mikhail Tal (Soviet Union)
«The Magician from Riga» captivated chess enthusiasts not only with his bold and speculative play but also with the sheer brilliance of his unorthodox strategies and daring moves. This charismatic style not only captured the imagination of fans but also set him apart as one of the most captivating figures in chess history. [game-link]

1961 – 1963 Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union)

1963 – 1969 Tigran Petrosian (Soviet Union)
Tigran Petrosian’s reign, marked by an impenetrable defensive style, earned him the moniker «Iron Tiger.» Additionally, throughout his tenure, he demonstrated a strategic prowess that solidified his place in chess history. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1969
The 1969 World Chess Championship, hosted in the iconic city of Moscow, represented Boris Spassky’s second attempt to overcome Tigran Petrosian, following his defeat in 1966. The triumphant player would be decided after 24 intense games, with the first to reach 12.5 points being crowned the ultimate champion. Spassky secured the title of the 10th World Chess Champion as this historic championship unfolded from April 14th to June 17th. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1972
The 1972 World Chess Championship, dubbed the «Match of the Century,» took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, pitting defending champion Boris Spassky, representing the Soviet Union, against the 29-year-old American challenger, Robert James «Bobby» Fischer, amidst Cold War tensions. Fischer, known for accusing Soviet players of collusion, heightened the political drama. Spassky, facing pressure to uphold Soviet dominance, showcased his versatile playing style. Despite Fischer’s eccentricities and last-minute demands, the match proceeded with interventions from figures like Henry Kissinger. Fischer secured his position as the 11th world champion on August 31, 1972. This pivotal victory not only solidified Fischer’s standing but also marked the end of the Soviet Union’s chess dominance since 1948. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1975
In 1975, the World Chess Championship witnessed unprecedented events as the reigning world chess champion, Bobby Fischer, an American, clashed with both FIDE and Karpov over tournament conditions. Disputes, including Fischer’s proposed changes, format disagreements, economic terms, and rule alterations, led to his refusal to defend the title. This marked the first time in chess history a reigning champion was declared without playing. The conflict also had underlying political dimensions, reflecting broader Cold War tensions. Anatoly Karpov, representing the Soviet Union, was then declared World Chess Champion by forfeit. [no game-link]

World Chess Championship 1978
The 1978 World Chess Championship in Baguio, Philippines, featuring Anatoly Karpov (USSR) against challenger Viktor Korchnoi (Switzerland), was marked by unique incidents and off-board controversies. Initially leading 4–1 after 17 games, Karpov faced a formidable challenge as Korchnoi equalized at 5–5 after 31 games. Ultimately, Karpov secured victory, concluding the match at 6–5 with 21 draws. The rivalry intensified amid political tensions, defection, and personal accusations, creating a profoundly dramatic and bitter atmosphere in this historic championship. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1981
In 1981, the «Massacre in Merano» World Chess Championship unfolded in Italy. Anatoly Karpov clinched a decisive 6-2 win against challanger Viktor Korchnoi, aka «Viktor the Terrible» due to his renowned fighting spirit. The tournament spotlighted Korchnoi’s campaign to liberate his family from the Soviet Union, backed by a committee in Iceland with a hundred influential members, including Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness.

World Chess Championship 1984
The World Chess Championship 1984 in Moscow, featuring the intense showdown between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov both from the USSR. The match came to a halt after a riveting 48 games, with Karpov leading 5-3. Kasparov, the brilliant chess prodigy from Azerbaijan, earned his title shot by triumphing in the demanding Candidates Tournament. Despite Karpov’s initial 5-0 lead, Kasparov orchestrated a captivating comeback, clinching victory in the final two games. However, the match was abruptly stopped by FIDE’s president, citing player well-being. The players’ disagreement with the arbiter’s decision may suggest that both had confidence in their chances of success? The clash was subsequently replayed in the 1985 World Chess Championship. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1985
The 1985 Chess World Championship, in Moscow, was a rematch of the controversially terminated 1984 event (after 48 rounds). This time, Soviet giants Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov faced off in the «old format» spanning 24 rounds. Karpov only needed the match tied to retain the world champion title. But Kasparov emerged victorious with a final score of 13-11, thus becoming the 13th and youngest world champion at the age of 22 years. His reign continued for an impressive 15 years until 2000, solidifying his unparalleled dominance and legacy in the chess world. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1986
The 1986 World Chess Championship was a contractual rematch between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, following Kasparov’s 1985 world championship win. Games 1-12 took place in London, while games 13-24 were held in Leningrad. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher oversaw the color selection in a match where Kasparov successfully defended the world championship title. It was the third showdown between these Soviet giants. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1987
Following his victory over Andrei Sokolov in the final of the Candidates Tournament, Anatoly Karpov engaged in his fourth World Chess Championship match against the reigning champion, Garry Kasparov. The culmination was a highly dramatic showdown, as Karpov took the lead at 12-11, only for Kasparov to clinch the ultimate game and successfully defend his title. [game-link]

World Chess Championship 1990
In the 1990 World Chess Championship, Garry Kasparov successfully defended his title against challenger Anatoly Karpov, securing a victory with a score of 12.5 – 11.5. This event marked the fifth and ultimate World Championship encounter between these two legends. The initial 12 games unfolded in New York (USA), while the subsequent 12 were contested in Lyons (France). [game-link]

History: FIDE World Chess Champions

FIDE World Chess Championship 1993
In the FIDE World Chess Championship 1993, Anatoly Karpov from Russia and Jan Timman from the Netherlands, competed. Perhaps it was Karpov’s 9th rank’ that proved crucial in securing the prestigious title in this epic showdown between two icons? [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 1999
In the 1999 championship held in Las Vegas, Alexander Khalifman (Russia) emerged victorious in a Knockout Tournament. Even though being ranked 44th in the world at the time, Khalifman’s triumph challenged expectations, earning him the prestigious title of FIDE World Chess Champion. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2000
Viswanathan Anand secured victory in the 2000 championship held in Tehran. In the finals, he defeated Alexey Shirov from Latvia, thus marking the shortest and most one-sided match in World Chess Championship history. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2002
The FIDE World Chess Championship 2002 in Moscow featured a knockout format for 128 participants. In the final, 18-year-old Ruslan Ponomariov from Ukraine triumphed over his compatriot, 32-year-old Vasyl Ivanchuk. Consequently, Ponomariov emerged as the youngest FIDE World Champion. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2004
Uzbekistani Rustam Kasimdzhanov won the championship held in Libya in 2004. Despite facing Michael Adams in a thrilling final tiebreak, he ascended to the pinnacle of success. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2005
Veselin Topalov convincingly emerged as the winner of the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005 in Argentina, although facing tough opposition.
The Bulgarian GM won with an impressive 10 out of 14 points, in not-so-modest manner. [game-link]

History: Classical World Chess Champions

Classical World Chess Championship 1993
In 1993, Garry Kasparov secured yet another victory in a World Chess Championship, this time against the challenger Nigel Short from the UK. During the match, which took place in London, the proceedings were remarkable for the intense psychological battles and strategic maneuvers. This clearly portrayed the legend’s exceptional power on the chessboard. Regardless of Short’s formidable challenge, Kasparov demonstrated his resilience. [game-link]

Classical World Chess Championship 1995
At the World Trade Center in New York in 1995, a tense showdown unfolded. During this pivotal moment, Garry Kasparov faced off against the challenger, Viswanathan Anand from India. Eventually, Kasparov triumphed, solidifying his dominance in the world of chess. [game-link]

Classical World Chess Championship 2000
The Classical World Chess Championship of 2000 took place in London, United Kingdom, from October 8th to November 4th. The tournament concluded with Vladimir Kramnik securing 8.5 points, surpassing Garry Kasparov who scored 6.5 points. [game-link]

Classical World Chess Championship 2004
Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning world champion from Russia, defended his title against Peter Leko from Hungary in 2004. Dive into the strategic battles that unfolded, and explore while downloading all the games from this intense competition. [game-link]

Undisputed World Chess Champions History

FIDE World Chess Championship 2006
The 2006 championship in Elista marked the moment when Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning Classical World Champion from Russia, triumphed over Veselin Topalov, the reigning FIDE World Champion from Bulgaria. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2007
Emerging victorious in the 2007 championship held in Mexico City, Viswanathan Anand from India secured the top position in a double Round Robin event, where the 2006 World Chess Champion, Vladimir Kramnik from Russia, also participated. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2008
In the 2008, Viswanathan Anand, the reigning FIDE World Champion, triumphed over the Vladimir Kramnik, the Classical World Chess Champion. The beloved Indian national hero, once again, lived up to his nickname «The Tiger». [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2010
In 2010, Bulgarian challenger Veselin Topalov played against reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand from India in Sofia. Furthermore, in this match, Anand emerged victorious with a score of 6.5 – 5.5. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2012
India’s reigning World Champion, Viswanathan Anand, came out on top against Israel’s Boris Gelfand in 2012. The match took place in Moscow. [game-link]

The Dawn of Magnus Carlsen’s Reign

FIDE World Chess Championship 2013
The 2013 FIDE World Chess Championship unfolded in Chennai, India, the hometown of the reigning world champion, Viswanathan Anand. Challenger Magnus Carlsen secured his spot by triumphing over formidable opponents like Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian in the Candidate Tournament. Despite an initial series of 4 draws, Anand encountered setbacks, facing defeats in rounds 5 and 6. Ultimately, the Norwegian maestro clinched a commanding victory with a score of 6.5 – 3.5, ascending to the esteemed title of the 16th undisputed World Chess Champion.

The 2013 World Chess Championship also marked the inception of a captivating chess masterpiece orchestrated by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Today, over 10 years later, televised chess has become a crowd favorite, gathering thousands of Norwegians around their TV screens.[game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2014
The 2014 World Chess Championship was held in Sochi, with Russia as the host country. Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the reigning world champion, won the rematch against former world champion Viswanathan Anand decisively. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2016
In 2016, Magnus Carlsen defended his title against Russian Sergey Karjakin in New York. The classical games ended in a tie, but the Norwegian secured a decisive victory in the tiebreak. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2018
There was anticipation surrounding whether Fabiano Caruana could challenge Magnus Carlsen in 2018. The classical chess games resulted in a tie, but in the rapid chess tiebreak, the challenger was crushed with a score of 3 – 0. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2021
The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship, hosted at the Dubai Exhibition Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, showcased a clash between the reigning Norwegian World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia. Initially slated for 2020, the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlsen’s success commenced with five draws, followed by his historic triumph in the lengthiest-ever game at 136 moves during Game 6. Nepomniachtchi’s performance deteriorated, and Carlsen seized on errors in Games 8, 9, and 11, securing a resounding victory with four wins, seven draws, and no losses. [game-link]

FIDE World Chess Championship 2023
Entering 2023, Magnus Carlsen opts out of the World Chess Championship. Meanwhile, Ding Liren from China clinches victory in a rapid tiebreak against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi. The burning question on everyone’s mind: ‘Will Magnus Carlsen stage a comeback in a future World Chess Championship?’ [game-link]

World Chess Champions

Chess has made its strategic mark on the global stage, from the maneuvers of 16th-century monarchs to the iconic 1972 Fischer-Spassky showdown. During the Cold War, the chessboard mirrored profound geopolitical struggles. It also illustrates ideological confrontations between Western and communist players. There has been a resurgence of interest in chess, led by world champion Magnus Carlsen and the thriving online gaming community. The contest for dominance is now between challengers from the former Soviet Union and the United States. Consequently, this resurgence vividly illustrates the enduring global relevance of chess.

World championships and tournaments go beyond being mere battlefields for the kings and queens of the chessboard. Instead, they become vibrant arenas for cultural exchange and international collaboration. As the chess pieces move across the board, they engage in a dance reflecting human intellect and global connections, illustrating the maneuvers of the game. Simultaneously, it highlights the interconnected nature of strategic moves on the chessboard with the broader complexities of human thought and worldwide relationships.

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Wikipedia: History and games
Lichess: Classification of openings and games

World Chess Champions