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In english the name is written World chess championship

World chess championship

The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in the board game chess. Both men and women are eligible to contest this title.

In addition, there is a separate event for women only, for the title of "Woman's World Champion", and separate competitions and titles for juniors, seniors and computers. However, these days the strongest competitors in the junior, senior, and women's categories often forego these niche title events in order to pursue top level competition, although they continue to be part of chess tradition. Computers are barred from competing for the open title.

Since 1993, there has been no consensus on who owns the title. Vladimir Kramnik is World Champion by natural succession (having defeated the last undisputed World Champion Garry Kasparov in a match, and not having lost a match since), while Veselin Topalov is the official FIDE World Champion, having won the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. In April 2006 it was announced that these two would play a match in September 2006 to decide a unified title.

The World Champion is not necessarily the highest-rated player in the world. However, FIDE champion Topalov is in fact number one on the current FIDE rating list

Unofficial World Champions

Pedro Damião, ~1520, Portugal
Ruy López de Segura, ~1560, Spain
Paolo Boi and Leonardo da Cutri, ~1575, Italy
Alessandro Salvio, ~1600, Italy
Gioacchino Greco, ~1620, Italy
Legall de Kermeur, ~1730–1747, France
Francois-André Philidor, ~1747–1795, France
Alexandre Deschapelles, ~1800–1820, France
Louis de la Bourdonnais, ~1820–1840, France
Howard Staunton, 1843–1851, England
Adolf Anderssen, 1851–1858, Germany
Paul Morphy, 1858–1859, United States
Adolf Anderssen, 1860–1866, Germany
Wilhelm Steinitz, 1866–1886, Bohemia/Austria

Undisputed World Champions

Wilhelm Steinitz, 1886–1894, Austria/USA
Emanuel Lasker, 1894–1921, Germany
José Raúl Capablanca, 1921–1927, Cuba
Alexander Alekhine, 1927–1935, Russia/France
Max Euwe, 1935-1937, Netherlands
Alexander Alekhine, 1937–1946, France
Mikhail Botvinnik, 1948–1957, Soviet Union (Russia)
Vasily Smyslov, 1957–1958, Soviet Union (Russia)
Mikhail Botvinnik, 1958–1960, Soviet Union (Russia)
Mikhail Tal, 1960–1961, Soviet Union (Latvia)
Mikhail Botvinnik, 1961–1963, Soviet Union (Russia)
Tigran Petrosian, 1963–1969, Soviet Union (Armenia)
Boris Spassky, 1969–1972, Soviet Union (Russia)
Robert J Fischer, 1972–1975, United States
Anatoly Karpov, 1975–1985, Soviet Union (Russia)
Garry Kasparov, 1985–1993, Soviet Union (Russia)

FIDE World Champions since 1993

Anatoly Karpov, 1993–1999, Russia
Alexander Khalifman, 1999–2000, Russia
Viswanathan Anand, 2000–2002, India
Ruslan Ponomariov, 2002–2004, Ukraine
Rustam Kasimdzhanov, 2004–2005, Uzbekistan
Veselin Topalov, 2005–present, Bulgaria

PCA "Classical" World Champions

Garry Kasparov, 1993–2000, Russia
Vladimir Kramnik, 2000–present, Russia

History of the World Chess Championship

Three pioneering titans (Pre-1900)

The first match proclaimed by the players as for the world championship was the match that Wilhelm Steinitz won against Johannes Zukertort in 1886. However, a line of players regarded as the strongest (or at least the most famous) in the world extends back hundreds of years beyond them, and these players are sometimes considered the world champions of their time. They include Ruy López de Segura around 1560, Paolo Boi and Leonardo da Cutri around 1575, Alessandro Salvio around 1600, and Gioacchino Greco around 1620.

In the 18th and early 19th century, French players dominated, with Legall de Kermeur (1730–1747), Francois-André Philidor (1747–1795), Alexandre Deschapelles (1800–1820) and Louis de la Bourdonnais (1820–1840) all widely regarded as the strongest players of their time. La Bourdonnais played a series of six matches — and 85 games — against the Irishman Alexander McDonnell, with many of the encounters later being annotated by the American Paul Morphy.

The Englishman Howard Staunton's match victory over another Frenchman, Pierre-Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant, in 1843 is considered to have established him as the world's strongest player (1840–1850). When he only finished fourth in the 1851 London tournament, he is considered to have relinquished the role to the tournament's winner, Adolf Anderssen (1851–1858). About the same time (1850), von der Lasa was considered Anderssen's equal, and won a match with Staunton by one point.

Anderssen was himself decisively defeated in an 1858 match against the American Paul Morphy, after which Morphy was toasted across the chess-playing world as the world chess champion. A fast player (he took only minutes to decide on his moves, compared with some others who "were notorious not for out-thinking their opponents but out-sitting them", as Steinitz once said), and possessing fearsome talent, he defeated every major player of the time. Soon after, he offered pawn and move odds to anyone who would play him. Finding no takers, Morphy abruptly retired from chess the following year, but many considered him the world champion until his death in 1884. His sudden withdrawal from chess at his peak and subsequent mental illness led to his being known as "the pride and sorrow of chess".

This left Anderssen again as possibly the world's strongest active player, a reputation he reinforced by winning the strong London tournament of 1862. He was narrowly defeated in an 1866 match against Wilhelm Steinitz, and some commentators regard this to be the first "official" world championship match. The match was not declared to be a world championship at the time, however. It was only after Morphy's death in 1884 that such a match was declared, a testament to Morphy's dominance of the game (even though he had not played publicly for 25 years). This 1886 match between Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, won by Steinitz, though not held under the aegis of any official body, is universally recognized as the first official World Chess Championship match, with Steinitz the game's first official World Champion.

The championship was conducted on a fairly informal basis through the remainder of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth: if a player thought he was strong enough, he would challenge the reigning world champion to a match. If he won, he would become the new champion. There was no formal system of qualification. However, it is generally regarded that the system did on the whole produce champions who were the strongest players of their day. The players who held the title up until World War II were Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, and Max Euwe, each of them defeating the previous incumbent in a match.

Rise of the modern Grandmaster (1894 - 1946)

Lasker was the first champion after Steinitz; though there were criticisms that he played infrequently, he did string together an impressive run of tournament victories and dominated his opponents. His success is largely due to the fact that he was an excellent practical player. He did not necessarily play the objectively best move, but instead the one that would upset his rival the most. In difficult or objectively lost positions he would complicate matters and use his extraordinary tactical abilities to save the game. He held the title from 1894 to 1921, a reign (27 years) unlikely even to be approached by any modern champion. In that period he defended the title successfully 6 times, against Steinitz, Marshall, Tarrasch, Janowski and Schlechter (the last was a tied match +1-1=8, with Lasker keeping his title by winning the last game).

The tournaments St. Petersburg 1909 and St. Petersburg 1914 were pivotal events of this period. Lasker won both events (sharing first with Akiba Rubinstein in 1909), followed by Capablanca and Alekhine in 1914. Tsar Nicholas II awarded the five finalists of St. Petersburg 1914 with the title Grand Master of Chess: Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Frank Marshall.

In 1921, Lasker lost the title to a sensational young Cuban named José Raúl Capablanca. Capablanca was the last and greatest of the "natural" players: he prepared little for his games, but won them brilliantly. He possessed an astonishing insight into positions simply by glancing at them. Renowned for his ability to gradually convert the tiniest advantages into victory as well as his famous endgame skill, Capablanca was one of the most feared players in history. From a loss to Oscar Chajes in 1916 to a loss to Richard Réti in 1924, he was undefeated.

However, in 1927, he was shockingly upset by a new challenger, Alekhine. Before the match, almost no one gave Alekhine a chance against the dominant Cuban, but Alekhine overcame Capablanca's natural skill with his unmatched drive and extensive preparation (especially deep opening analysis, which became a hallmark of all future grandmasters). The aggressive Alekhine was helped by his fearsome tactical skill, which complicated the game. He also managed to stave off a rematch against Capablanca indefinitely. In 1935, he lost the title to the Dutch mathematician Max Euwe, the last amateur world-champion. Alekhine later liked to blame his loss on alcohol. In 1937, at which point the two players had split their previous 56 matches evenly, Alekhine did get a rematch and won the title back from Euwe. He then held it until his death in 1946.

Soviet dominance (1948 - 1972)

Alekhine's death threw the chess world into chaos. The previous informal system could not deal with this unlikely eventuality. Though Euwe could claim a moral right to the title, he graciously allowed FIDE to step in. Though FIDE had existed since 1924, it lacked power because the strongest chess-playing nation, the Soviet Union, refused to participate. However, upon Alekhine's death, the Soviet Union joined FIDE in order to be a part of the process to select the next champion. FIDE organised a match tournament in 1948 between five of the world's strongest players: Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, and Max Euwe himself (Reuben Fine was also invited, but declined to take part due to his doctorate degree requirements). Botvinnik won the tournament by a large margin (as well as winning all the sub-matches against all his opponents), and thus the championship, and FIDE continued to organise the championship thereafter.

In place of the previous informal system, a new system of qualifying tournaments and matches was arranged. The world's strongest players were seeded into "Interzonal tournaments", where they were joined by players who had qualified from "Zonal tournaments". The leading finishers in these Interzonals would go on the "Candidates" stage, which was initially a tournament, later a series of knock-out matches. The winner of the Candidates would then play a match against the reigning champion (who did not have to qualify through this process) for the championship. If a champion was defeated, he had a right to play a rematch one year after his loss. This system worked on a three-year cycle.

The winner of the 1948 tournament, Mikhail Botvinnik, would end up being a constant presence in championship matches for over ten years. His marked longevity at the top is generally explained by the fact that he was a tireless worker. It is said he perfected the game as a science, not a sport, through his emphasis on technique over tactics. This longevity is even more impressive considering he had hit his peak during World War II, during which international chess was suspended, and he was the first champion who was forced to play all his challengers. Perhaps most remarkably, he was not a professional chess player, but a decorated engineer by trade.

Botvinnik first successfully defended his title twice over his first six years, holding off both David Bronstein in 1951 and Vasily Smyslov in 1954. Both the matches were drawn 12-12 but Botvinnik retained the title by virtue of being defending champion. Smyslov, however, won the title in 1957 by a score of 12.5 – 9.5, only to lose it once more to Botvinnik in 1958 by a score of 12.5 – 10.5. At the time, Smyslov had the dubious pleasure of being the shortest-reigning world champion, but this 'honour' soon switched hands, to the 'Magician from Riga', Mikhail Tal.

Tal's daring, sacrificial style had brought him success in 1960, overcoming Botvinnik by a score of 12.5 – 8.5. But once more, Botvinnik was not content, and won back his title the following year in a rematch, by the score of 13 – 8, after Tal fell ill. Botvinnik has said: "If Tal would learn to program himself properly, he would have been impossible to play." Unfortunately, he did not, and many believe that Tal was never able to live up to his potential. He remains to this day the shortest-lived champion.

Botvinnik would play just one more world championship match, against the Armenian Tigran Petrosian, losing it 12.5 – 9.5. There was no rematch, because FIDE abolished the rematch rule. Botvinnik retired from chess and occupied himself with computer chess and the creation of his famous chess school. Petrosian successfully defended his title in 1966 against Boris Spassky, winning by the narrowest of margins (12.5 – 11.5) in Moscow. Three years later, however, (once more in Moscow) he lost 12.5 – 10.5 to the same challenger.

A second American sorrow and the K-K arch-rivalry (1972 - 1990)

The next championship, held in Reykjavík (Iceland) in 1972, saw the first non-Soviet finalist since before World War II (the first under FIDE), the young American, Bobby Fischer. Having defeated his Candidates opponents Bent Larsen, Mark Taimanov, and Tigran Petrosian by unheard-of margins (with scores of 6–0, 6–0, and 6.5–2.5, respectively), Fischer was easily qualified to challenge Spassky. The so-called Match of the Century, possibly the most famous in chess history, had a shaky start: having lost the first game, Fischer defaulted the second after he failed to turn up, complaining about playing conditions. There was concern he would default the whole match rather than play, but he duly turned up for the third game and won it brilliantly. Spassky won only one more game in the rest of the match and was eventually crushed by Fischer by a score of 12.5 – 8.5. Fischer's dominance drew many parallels to the other famed American chess champion, Morphy. Unfortunately, this similarity became all too close three years later.

A line of unbroken FIDE champions had thus been established from 1948 to 1972, with each champion gaining his title by beating the previous incumbent. This came to an end in 1975, however, when reigning champion Fischer refused to defend his title against Soviet Anatoly Karpov when Fischer's demands were not met. Fischer abandoned his FIDE title, but maintained that he was still World Champion. He went into seclusion and did not play chess in public again until 1992, when he offered Spassky a rematch, again for the World Championship. The general chess public did not take this claim to the championship seriously, since both of them were well past their prime - shadows of their former selves, though the match was greatly appreciated and attracted good media coverage.

In addition, Karpov dominated the 1970s and 1980s with an incredible string of tournament successes. He convincingly demonstrated that he was the strongest player in the world by defending his title twice against ex-Soviet Viktor Korchnoi, first in Baguio City in 1978 and then in Meran-Merano in 1981. His "boa constrictor" style frustrated opponents, often causing them to lash out and err. This allowed him to bring the full force of his Botvinnik-learned dry technique (both Karpov and Kasparov were students at Botvinnik's school) against them, grinding his way to victory.

He eventually lost his title to a fiery, aggressive, tactical player who was equally convincing over the board: Garry Kasparov. The two of them fought five incredibly close world championship matches, in 1984 (the last match scored with the number of wins, which was controversially terminated without result when Karpov was leading 5–3, see Anatoly Karpov's article for details), 1985 (which Kasparov won 13-11), 1986 (which Kasparov squeaked by with a victory 12.5–11.5), 1987 (which was drawn 12–12 and Kasparov kept the title), and 1990 (which Kasparov narrowly won 12.5–11.5). The two of them fought numerous titanic battles, and though Karpov dominated at first, Kasparov took over soon after. As of May 2004, according to ChessGames, in their 235 formal games played, Karpov has 23 wins, Kasparov has 33 wins, and they share 179 draws.

Chaos (1993 - )

Not long after Kasparov became champion, the Soviet Union collapsed, freeing Kasparov from the grip of the Soviet state. This set the stage for a more lasting set-back to FIDE's system when in 1993, Kasparov and challenger Nigel Short complained of corruption and a lack of professionalism within FIDE and split from FIDE to set up the Professional Chess Association (PCA), under whose auspices they held their match. The event was orchestrated largely by Raymond Keene, who has been at the centre of much off-the-board chess activity for a long time now. Keene brought the event to London (FIDE had planned it for Manchester), and England was whipped up into something of a chess fever: Channel Four broadcast some 81 programmes on the match, the BBC also had coverage, and Short appeared in television beer commercials. However, Kasparov crushed Short by five points, and interest in chess in the UK soon died down.

At the same time, FIDE held a championship match between Karpov (who had been champion before Kasparov and had been defeated by Short in the Candidates semi-final) and Jan Timman (who had been defeated by Short in the Candidates final) in the Netherlands and Jakarta, Indonesia. Karpov emerged victorious. Ever since that time there have been two simultaneous World Champions and World Championships.

Kasparov went on to defend his PCA title against Viswanathan Anand, who had qualified through a series of events similar to those in the old FIDE system. It seemed his next challenger would be Alexei Shirov, who won a match against Vladimir Kramnik to apparently secure his place. However, plans for a match with Shirov never materialised, and he was subsequently omitted from negotiations, much to his disgust. Instead, Anand was lined up to play Kasparov once more, but here too, plans fell through (in somewhat disputed circumstances). Instead, Vladimir Kramnik was given the chance to play Kasparov in 2000. Kramnik won the match with two wins, thirteen draws, and no losses.

FIDE, meanwhile, after one more traditional championship cycle which resulted in Karpov successfully defending his title against Gata Kamsky in 1996, largely scrapped the old system, instead having a large knock-out event in which a large number of players contested short matches against each other over just a few weeks. Very fast games were used to resolve ties at the end of each round, a format which some felt did not necessarily recognize the highest quality play. (Kasparov refused to participate in these events, as did Kramnik after he won Kasparov's title in 2000). In the first of these events, champion Karpov was seeded straight into the final (as in previous championships), but subsequently the champion had to qualify like other players. Karpov defended his title in the first of these championships in 1998, but resigned his title in anger at the new rules in 1999. Alexander Khalifman took the title in 1999, Anand in 2000 and Ruslan Ponomariov in 2002.

This left a chess world with two distinct championships: one extending the Steinitzian lineage in which the current champion plays a challenger in match format (a series of many games); the other following FIDE's new format of a tennis-style elimination—or "Knockout"—tournament with dozens of players competing. In addition Kasparov had claim to be the strongest player, both because he had the highest rating, and because he won several major tournaments after losing his title to Kramnik.

In May 2002, under the terms of the so-called "Prague Agreement" masterminded by Yasser Seirawan, several leaders in the chess world met in Prague and signed a unity agreement which intended to ensure the crowning of an undisputed world champion before the end of 2003, and restore the traditional cycle of qualifying matches by 2005.

The semifinalists for the 2003 championship were to be Ruslan Ponomariov (FIDE champion) vs. Garry Kasparov (highest rated player), and Vladimir Kramnik (successor to Kasparov's title) vs. a challenger to Kramnik (this challenger cycle had been organised before Prague, and was subsequently won by Péter Lékó). The latter match was originally to be held in Budapest, but funding collapsed and it was called off. The match was rescheduled as a fourteen game match held in Brissago, Switzerland from September 25 to October 18, 2004 and billed as the Classic World Chess Championship sponsored by the cigar company Dannemann. The match was drawn after Kramnik won the last game when a point behind, which meant that Kramnik retained the title.

The other semifinal suffered greater problems. Organised by FIDE, it was scheduled for September 2003, but called off when Ponomariov refused to sign his contract for it in disputed circumstances. Instead it was suggested that Kasparov play the winner of the FIDE World Chess Championship 2004, a knockout event held in June–July 2004 in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, a controversial event in a controversial venue which saw several prominent players denied entry visas (officially or not) and others withdrawing in protest. The secondary venue of Malta, originally proposed to solve the visas issue, was removed by FIDE claiming Muammar al-Qaddafi had assured no problems related to players with Israeli passports and visa stamps (in contrast to the ardent claims of his elder son, Muhammad Qaddafi, head of the Libyan Olympic Committee). In the event, the little-known Uzbek Rustam Kasimdzhanov won the event, but neither Kasparov nor Kramnik would ever play him for the title; Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov matches were mooted for Dubai and Elista, but nothing came of these approaches and all hope was lost when Kasparov retired from competitive chess in early 2005, still ranked #1 in the world.

Soon after, FIDE dropped the short knockout format for World Championship event and announced the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005, a new 8-player double round robin tournament to be held in San Luis, Argentina. With the stated intent of removing confusion over who the true World Champion should be, FIDE invited anyone with a conceivable claim to either the title or a challenge for the title - Kasparov as world #1, Kramnik as classical world champion, Kasimdzhanov as FIDE world champion, Anand as #1 behind Kasparov, and several other top-rated players. However, both Kasparov (retired) and Kramnik (who insisted on a traditional match format) declined their invitations to participate. As a result, FIDE considered Kramnik to have abdicated all rights to the world championship title while the Kramnik camp maintained that the descendant of Steinitz was as yet unbeaten, and so the impasse still remained.

The dominant winner in San Luis was the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov. Moves were quickly made by Kramnik and his team to arrange a Kramnik-Topalov unification match; this fell apart after neither side would be swayed on crucial issues (most notably whether the match should be played under the auspices of FIDE, which the sponsor Kramnik had found did not want to give any money to).

Current Situation

On April 13, 2006, FIDE announced a World Championship match between Topalov and Kramnik, to be held September 21 - October 13 in Elista over 12 games, with a rapid playoff if necessary. The winner will take Topalov's place in the 2007 World Championship tournament, with the loser eliminated from the 2007 FIDE World Championship cycle

While being seen as a chance to finally have a unified world chess championship, the circumstances of the announcement (just one month before the FIDE presidential elections), the venue (the capital of Kalmykia, governed by the FIDE President himself) and absence of a sponsor could raise some doubts over the match.

Meanwhile, encouraged by the success of San Luis, FIDE announced that they would conduct another 8-player double round robin for the FIDE World Championship in 2007. In April 2006 FIDE announced that this tournament would be held in Mexico. The top 4 San Luis finishers qualify, along with 4 of 16 Candidates.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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File last modified on 2016-5-11
Contributor : devassal thibault

See also this article on Wikipedia : World chess championship

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World chess championship

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