List of World Chess Champions

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World Chess Champions are players who have won a match or tournament for the World Championship at chess. Both men and women can become champion, but no woman has ever been a challenger for the title. There is, however, a separate championship for women. There are also separate championships for specific age groups.

Bobby Fischer at the Leipzig Chess Olympiad in 1960
Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
Former World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Before 1886, there was no official championship held, but some players were thought to be pre-eminent. From 1948 on, the World Chess Federation FIDE held the championships. Between 1993 and 2006 there were two world champion titles, the FIDE one and the classical one.

The 2013 World Championship match took place between Anand and Magnus Carlsen (challenger) in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, where Anand grew up. Usually, world champions had been played on neutral ground. Fischer played Spassky in Iceland; Alekhine played Capablanca in Buenos Aires. The Soviets always played in Moscow. However, sponsorship is needed for these matches, and the decision to accept the Chennai bid was taken by FIDE. The Challenger was victorious winning 3 games and achieving the necessary 6.5 points to win the title at the end of game 10.

Ding Liren (since 2023 and from China) is the current World Chess Champion.

Some players and authors before 1821


These players are included (pre-18th century) on little more than opinion, and (18th century) on the basis of more substantial information.[1][2] Some authors of important early works on chess are noted.

Name Year Country
Francesch Vicent (author) ~1475   Spain First printed book on chess. (Catalonia)[3]
Luis Ramirez de Lucena (author) ~1490   Spain First printed book on chess to have survived.
Pedro Damiano (author) ~1512   Portugal
Ruy López de Segura (author) 1559–1575   Spain
El Morro ~1560–1575   Portugal
Leonardo da Cutro 1575   Kingdom of Naples
Paolo Boi 1575   Kingdom of Sicily
Giulio Polerio ~1580   Kingdom of Naples
Alessandro Salvio (author) ~1600   Kingdom of Naples
Gioachino Greco (author) ~1620–1634   Kingdom of Naples
Pietro Carrera ~1640   Kingdom of Sicily
Ercole del Rio (author) ~1750   Italy (Duchy of Modena)
Giambattista Lolli (author) ~1760   Italy (Duchy of Modena)
Domenico Ponziani (author) ~1770   Italy (Duchy of Modena)
François-André Danican Philidor 1745–1795   France
Johann Baptist Allgaier (author) ~1795–~1815   Austrian Empire
Verdoni ~1795–~1804   Italy
Alexandre Deschapelles 1815–1821   France

World Champions pre-FIDE


These players are included on the basis of their winning matches against credible opponents. Champions are numbered from Steinitz onwards, because his match against Zukertort was publicly declared as a world championship and generally accepted.[4][5]

Name Year Country
Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais 1821–1840   France
Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant 1840–1843   France
Howard Staunton 1843–1851   England
Adolf Anderssen 1851–1858
Paul Morphy 1858–1860   United States
1. Wilhelm Steinitz 1886–1894   Austria-Hungary
  United States
2. Emanuel Lasker 1894–1921   Germany
3. José Raúl Capablanca 1921–1927   Cuba
4. Alexander Alekhine 1927–1935
5. Max Euwe 1935–1937   Netherlands

FIDE world champions 1948–1993


Long matches, initially best of 24 games.

# Name Year Country
6 Mikhail Botvinnik 1948–1957
  Soviet Union (Russia)
7 Vasily Smyslov 1957–1958   Soviet Union (Russia)
8 Mikhail Tal 1960–1961   Soviet Union (Latvia)
9 Tigran Petrosian 1963–1969   Soviet Union (Armenia)
10 Boris Spassky 1969–1972   Soviet Union (Russia)
11 Robert J. Fischer 1972–1975   United States
12 Anatoly Karpov 1975–1985   Soviet Union (Russia)
13 Garry Kasparov 1985–1993   Soviet Union (Russia)

Undisputed world champions 2006–present


Various formats have been used, especially during Carlsen's tenure.

# Name Year Country
14 Vladimir Kramnik 2006–2007   Russia
15 Viswanathan Anand 2007–2013   India
16 Magnus Carlsen 2013–2023   Norway
17 Ding Liren 2023–present   People's Republic of China

Women's World Champions

Name Years Country
Vera Menchik 1927–1944   Czechoslovakia /   England
Lyudmila Rudenko 1950–1953   Soviet Union (Ukraine)
Elisabeth Bykova 1953–1956   Soviet Union (Russia)
Olga Rubtsova 1956–1958   Soviet Union (Russia)
Elisabeth Bykova 1958–1962   Soviet Union (Russia)
Nona Gaprindashvili 1962–1978   Soviet Union /   Georgia
Maia Chiburdanidze 1978–1991   Soviet Union /   Georgia
Xie Jun 1991–1996   People's Republic of China
Susan Polgar 1996–1999   Hungary /   United States
Xie Jun 1999–2001   People's Republic of China
Zhu Chen 2001–2004   People's Republic of China
Antoaneta Stefanova 2004–2006   Bulgaria
Xu Yuhua 2006–2008   People's Republic of China
Alexandra Kosteniuk 2008–2010   Russia
Hou Yifan 2010–2012   People's Republic of China
Anna Ushenina 2012–2013   Ukraine
Hou Yifan 2013–2015   People's Republic of China
Mariya Muzychuk 2015-2016   Ukraine
Hou Yifan 2016-2017   People's Republic of China
Tan Zhongyi 2017–2018   People's Republic of China
Ju Wenjun 2018–   People's Republic of China


  1. Murray H.J.R. (1913). A history of chess. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-827403-3.
  2. Van der Linde A. 1874. Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels. Edition Olms reprint 1981. ISBN 3-283-00079-4
  3. The author was a Catalan. Until 1716, Catalonia, a principality of the Crown of Aragon, kept its own Constitution, language, usages and laws.
  4. Winter, Edward G. (ed) 1981. World chess champions. Pergamon. ISBN 0-08-024094-1.
  5. Hooper, David and Whyld, Kenneth 1992. The Oxford Companion to Chess 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9