Chess: World Champions

Updated August 28, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Garry Kasparov became the youngest man to win the world chess championship when he beat fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov in 1985 at age 22. In 1993, Kasparov and then-#1 challenger Nigel Short of England broke away from the established International Chess Federation (FIDE) to form the Professional Chess Association (the PCA was disbanded in 1998). FIDE retaliated by stripping Kasparov of the world title and arranging a playoff that was won by Karpov, the former title-holder. Karpov successfully defended the FIDE title several times before failing to show up for the 1999 FIDE World Championship Tournament that was won by Alexander Khalifman. Indian Viswanathan Anand won the 2000 FIDE World Championship. The FIDE title holders between 2000 and 2006 include, Ruslan Ponomariov (2002), Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2004), and Veselin Topalov (2005).

In his first title defense in five years, Kasparov faced world #2 Vladimir Kramnik for 16 matches in the unofficial (though more widely recognized) world championship from Oct. 8-Nov. 4, 2000 in London. The 25-year-old Kramnik defeated the longtime world champion 81/2-61/2 in a stunning result. Kasparov failed to win a single game, but despite the loss is still the top-ranked player in the world.

The split between the Classical World Chess Championships and FIDE World Chess Championships ended in 2006 in one FIDE World Chess Championship. The historic match between champions Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov ended with Vladimir Kramnik as the undisputed World Chess Champion.

1866-94 Wilhelm Steinitz, Austria
1894-1921 Emanuel Lasker, Germany
1921-27 Jose Capablanca, Cuba
1927-35 Alexander Alekhine, France
1935-37 Max Euwe, Holland
1937-46 Alexander Alekhine, France
1948-57 Mikhail Botvinnik, USSR
1957-58 Vassily Smyslov, USSR
1958-59 Mikhail Botvinnik, USSR
1960-61 Mikhail Tal, USSR
1961-63 Mikhail Botvinnik, USSR
1963-69 Tigran Petrosian, USSR
1969-72 Boris Spassky, USSR
1972-75 Bobby Fischer, USA*
1975-85 Anatoly Karpov, USSR
1985-2000 Garry Kasparov, RUS
2000–2006 Vladimir Kramnik, RUS
2007–2008 Viswanathan Anand , India
*Fischer defaulted the championship in 1975.

Chess U.S. Champions
Chess Champions
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