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World chess championships (WCC) - present and history

The history of World chess championships

Unofficial Champions (before 1886)

The official world championship is generally regarded to have begun in 1886, when the two leading players in the world played a match. 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 Lopez de Segura around 1560, Paolo Boi and Leonardo da Cutri around 1575, Alessandro Salvio around 1600, and Gioachino Greco around 1620.

In the 18th and early 19th century, French players dominated, with Legall de Kermeur (1730–1747), Francois-Andre Philidor (1747–1795), Alexandre Deschapelles (1800–1820) and Louis de la Bourdonnais (1820–1840) all widely regarded as the strongest players of their time.

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. In 1851 Staunton organised the first international tournament in London. He finished fourth, with the decisive winner, the German Adolf Anderssen establishing himself as the leading player in the world. He has been described as the first modern chess master.

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. He played matches against several leading players, crushing them all - Johann Lowenthal, D.Harrwitz, A.Anderssen, A.Mongredien. 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. This left Anderssen again as possibly the world's strongest active player, a reputation he reinforced by winning the strong London tournament of 1862.

Anderssen was narrowly defeated in an 1866 match against Wilhelm Steinitz, and some commentators regard this to be the first "official" world championship match.

In 1883, Johannes Zukertort won a major international tournament in London, ahead of nearly every leading player in the world, including Steinitz. This tournament established Steinitz and Zukertort as the best two players in the world, and led to the inaugural World Championship match between them.

Official Champions (after 1886)

The chess 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 (or his friends) would find financial backing for a match purse and challenge the reigning world champion. If he won, he would become the new champion. There was no formal system of qualification.

In 1886 Wilhelm (later William) Steinitz became the 1-ST World chess champion by defeating Johannes Zuckertort, 12.5-7.5. This is generally considered to be the first World Chess Championship.
Steinitz defended his title from 1889 to 1894, retaining it in matches against Mikhail Chigorin, Isidor Gunsberg and again against Chigorin.

In 1894 Emanuel Lasker became the 2nd World chess champion by defeating Steinitz with 10 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses. He maintained this title for 27 years, the longest tenure of any officially recognized World Champion of chess.
Lasker defended his title successfully in a rematch against Steinitz (1896), then virtually retired for seven years to concentrate on his mathematics studies.
He returned to regular play in 1904, and successfully defended his title against Frank Marshall (1907, +8-0=7), Siegbert Tarrasch (1908, +8-3=5) and Dawid Janowski (1910, +8-0=3), and was only seriously threatened in a tied 1910 match against Carl Schlechter (1910, +1-1=8).

In 1921, Lasker lost the title to Jose Raul Capablanca - the 3rd World chess champion. Lasker lost with the score of 5 points out of 14 without scoring a single win.
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 Reti in 1924, he went undefeated.

In September–November 1927 at Buenos Aires Alexander Alekhine became the 4th World chess champion by defeating Capablanca in a World chess championship match, to the surprise of almost the entire chess world. Alekhine defeated Capablanca with 6 wins, 25 draws, and 3 losses. Going into the match, Alekhine had never won a single game from Capablanca.
Although Capablanca was clearly the leading challenger, Alekhine carefully avoided granting a re-match, although a right to a re-match was part of the agreement. Alekhine also managed to arrange that he and Capablanca did not play in the same tournaments for the next several years. Alekhine avoided Capablanca by insisting that the winner get $10,000 in gold, just as he got in Buenos Aires. But after the stock market crash, there were no backers.
Instead, Alekhine played two matches against Efim Bogoljubov, an official "Champion of FIDE", in 1929 and 1934, winning handily both times.

In 1935, Alekhine, plagued by problems with alcohol, lost the chess champion title to the Dutch mathematician Max Euwe - 5th World chess champion, the last amateur/world champion.
In December 1937, in return match, held in the Netherlands, Alekhine won the title back from Euwe by a large margin (+10 –4 =11). Alekhine played no more title matches, so he held the title until his death in 1946.

FIDE World chess championships (after 1946)

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 World Chess Championship tournament in 1948 between five of the world's strongest players: Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, and Max Euwe (Reuben Fine was also invited, but declined his invitation). Botvinnik won the tournament by a large margin (as well as winning all the sub-matches against all his opponents), and thus the championship. Mikhail Botvinnik became the 6th World chess champion.

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 Tournament would then play a match against the reigning champion for the chess championship. If a champion was defeated, he had a right to join in a three way match three years later with his successor and the next challenger (in 1957, this was changed to allow a defeated champion to play a rematch one year after his loss). This system worked on a three-year cycle.

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.
In 1957 Vasily Smyslov won the title by a score of 12.5–9.5 and became the 7th World chess champion, but lose to Botvinnik in 1958 by a score of 12.5–10.5.
In 1960, the 'Magician from Riga', Mikhail Tal, overcame Botvinnik by a score of 12.5 – 8.5 and became the 8th World chess champion. But once again, the following year in a rematch Botvinnik won his title back, by the score of 13–8, after Tal fell ill.

In 1963 the Armenian Tigran Petrosian became the 9th World chess champion, after winning the match against Botvinnik, by score 12.5–9.5. There was no rematch, because FIDE abolished the rematch rule. 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, in 1969, (once more in Moscow) Boris Spassky won the championship match by score 12.5–10.5 and became the 10th World chess champion.

The next chess championship, held in Reykjavik (Iceland) in 1972, the young American, Bobby Fischer became the 11th World chess champion
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 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...

In 1975 reigning champion Fischer refused to defend his title against Soviet Anatoly Karpov when Fischer's demands were not met. Fischer resigned his FIDE title in writing, but privately maintained that he was still World Chess Champion. So Karpov became the 12th World chess champion. He dominated the 1970s and early 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 Merano in 1981.

In 1985 Garry Kasparov became the 13th World chess champion. Kasparov and Karpov played 5 incredibly close world chess championship matches, in 1984 (controversially terminated without result with Karpov leading +5 -3 =40), 1985 (in which Kasparov won the title, 13-11), 1986 (narrowly won by Kasparov, 12.5–11.5), 1987 (drawn 12–12, Kasparov retaining the title), and 1990 (again narrowly won by Kasparov, 12.5–11.5).

FIDE and PCA World chess championships (1993-2006)

PCA: 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. Kasparov crushed Short by five points

FIDE: Affronted by the PCA split, FIDE stripped Kasparov of his title and held a chess championship match between Karpov (champion prior to Kasparov and defeated by Short in the Candidates semi-final) and Jan Timman (defeated by Short in the Candidates final) in the Netherlands and Jakarta, Indonesia. Karpov emerged victorious.

PCA: In the PCA cycle, Kasparov defeated Viswanathan Anand in the PCA World Chess Championship 1995.
FIDE: Karpov defeated Gata Kamsky in the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996.

FIDE, after years 1997, scrapped the Interzonal and Candidates 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, but subsequently the champion had to qualify like other players. Vladimir Kramnik won the match by score 8,5-6,5 (no loses) and become so called Classical World chess champion.

PCA: Negotiations for a Kasparov-Shirov match broke down. Plans for a 1999 or 2000 Kasparov-Anand match also broke down, and Kasparov organised a match with Kramnik in late 2000.

FIDE: 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, Viswanathan Anand in 2000, Ruslan Ponomariov in 2002 and Rustam Kasimdzhanov won the event in 2004.

PCA: The Kramnik-Leko match in 2004, now renamed the Classical World Chess Championship 2004, did not take place until late 2004. Leko led by a point before last game, but Kramnik managed to win this last games and he retained his title.

Soon after, FIDE dropped the short knockout format for World Championship and announced the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005, a double round robin tournament to be held in San Luis, Argentina between eight of the leading players in the world. However Kramnik insisted that his title be decided in a match, and declined to participate. The tournament was convincingly won by the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, and negotiations began for a Kramnik-Topalov match to unify the title.

This Unifying world chess championship match was held in 2006 in Elista, Kalmykia. After several scandals, the match was tied: 6-6. For first time in the history, the world chess champion had to contend for his title in rapid tie-break games. Kramnik won by score 2,5-1,5 and became the unified/undisputed World Chess Champion.

Official world chess champions (Not FIDE champions):
1886–1894Wilhelm Steinitz
1894–1921Emanuel Lasker
1921–1927Jose Raul Capablanca
1927–1935Alexander Alekhine
1935–1937Max Euwe
1937–1946Alexander Alekhine
Official FIDE world chess champions:
1948–1957Mikhail Botvinnik
1957–1958Vasily Smyslov
1958–1960Mikhail Botvinnik
1960–1961Mikhail Tal
1961–1963Mikhail Botvinnik
1963–1969Tigran Petrosian
1969–1972Boris Spassky
1972–1975Robert J. Fischer
1975–1985Anatoly Karpov
1985–1993Garry Kasparov
Official FIDE/PCA world chess champions:
1993–2000*Garry Kasparov * PCA Classical World Champion
1993–1999Anatoly Karpov
1999–2000Alexander Khalifman
2000–2006*Vladimir Kramnik *PCA Classical World Champion
2000–2002Viswanathan Anand
2002–2004Ruslan Ponomariov
2004–2005Rustam Kasimdzhanov
2005–2006Veselin Topalov
FIDE world chess champions:
2006–presentVladimir Kramnik

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Chess_Championship
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