20th July is observed as World Chess Day across the world. This day is observed to commemorate the establishment of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the governing body for chess, in Paris in 1924.
On World Chess Day, here are four iconic chess players from across the world.
Born on 9th March 1943 in Chicago, Bobby Fischer is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. His sister Joan bought Bobby his first chess set when he was merely 6 and taught him some basic chess moves. However, Bobby was a prodigy – by the age of 8, he was taking chess lessons at the Brooklyn Chess Club and soon enough, he has made a name for himself in the world of chess.
In 1956, Fischer was crowned the youngest player to ever win the United States Junior Championship at the age of 13. Also, at 15, he was, in his time, the youngest ever to be crowned a grandmaster.
In 1972, he also became the first native-born American to become the World Chess Champion and held the title until 1975.
“It was Bobby Fischer who had, single-handedly, made the world recognize that chess on its highest level was as competitive as football, as thrilling as a duel to the death, as esthetically satisfying as a fine work of art, as intellectually demanding as any form of human activity,” wrote Harold C. Schonberg, in his 1973 book, “Grandmasters of Chess.”
This chess genius passed away on 17th January 2008 in Iceland at the age of 64.
Born on 13th April 1963 in Azerbaijan, Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22. Widely regarded as the greatest chess players of all time, he became a grandmaster in 1980. He held the official title of the FIDE World Chess Champion title from 1985 to 1993. Subsequently, he left the organization and founded the Professional Chess Association, whose World Champion he was until 2000.
But Kasparov’s records do not end there – he also became the first player ever to cross the 2800 ELO rating.
Today, Kasparov is a political and a human rights activist. He is also the Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights globally.
A famed writer, Kasparov also wrote many acclaimed books such as ‘Kasparov on My Great Predecessors (2003–06)’, that covered all the world chess champions and ‘Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins (2017),’ in which he gave details of his match with Deep Blue, an IBM custom-built chess computer.
Born on 11th December 1969 in Chennai, India, Viswanathan Anand learned to play chess at the ripe age of 6 from his mother. A child prodigy, he became the youngest Indian ever to win an international master title. And at 17, he was the first Asian to win a world chess title when he won the 1987 FIDE World Junior Championship. He earned the title of a grandmaster in 1988, becoming the first from India to do so.
A five time World Champion (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012), Anand is widely regarded as one of the greatest rapid chess players of all time.
He was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour.
Born on 30th November 1990 in Norway, Magnus Carlsen is the current World Chess Champion, World Rapid Chess Champion, and World Blitz Chess Champion. He won all the three titles first in the year 2014, making him the first player ever to hold all the three titles simultaneously.
Carlsen rose to international fame when in 2004, he defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov and drew a game against Garry Kasparov. He also holds the distinction of becoming the second-youngest grandmaster when he did so at the age of 13 in 2004.
In January 2010 at the mere age of 19, Carlsen became the youngest player ever to become number one. A chess prodigy, Carlsen holds the record for the highest ever ELO rating achieved by a chess player – 2882.
And with age on his side, Carlsen is regarded as one of those players who will only get better with time and will be regarded as one of the most iconic chess players to have ever lived.
Are there any other players that should have been on the list? Do let us know in the comments section below.