The World Chess Players Hall Of Fame, 20th Century (WCP-HOF)

Chessdiagonals presents the 100 players of the 20th century

Hall of Fame of the 100 strongest chess players of the 20th century
(in chronological birth order from Chigorin to Svidler and Judit Polgar)

Chigorin, Tarrasch, Mieses, Janowski, Teichmann, Em. Lasker, Maroczy, Pillsbury, Schlechter, Marshall, Rubinstein, Bernstein, Duras, Spielmann, Vidmar sr., Nimzowitsch, Tartakower, Capablanca, Levenfish, Bogoljubov, Réti, Alekhine, Breyer, Grünfeld, Kostic, Euwe, Kashdan, Torre Repetto, Mir Sultan Khan, Menchik, Stahlberg, Flohr, Najdorf, Lilienthal, O'Kelly de Galway, Botvinnik, Reshevsky, Nezhmetdinov, Eliskases, Kotov, Pilnik, Fine, Keres, Szabo, Boleslavsky, Ju. Bolbochan, Smyslov, Averbakh, Gligoric, Junge, Bronstein, Pachman, Geller, Kholmov, Unzicker, Taimanov, Petrosian, Korchnoi, Ivkov, Stein, Polugaevsky, F. Olafsson, Larsen, Panno, Uhlmann, Tal, Spassky, Portisch, Fischer, Hort, Hübner, Browne, Ljubojevic, Andersson, Karpov, Vaganian, Torre, Timman, Mecking, Beliavsky, Miles, Nunn, Speelman, Jussupow, Seirawan, Kasparov, Salov, Short, Gelfand, Piket, Ivanchuk, Anand, Adams, Shirov, Lautier, Kamsky, Topalov, Kramnik, Svidler, J. Polgar

 published by Chessdiagonals, © 2016-10-31


The cut at the beginning and the end of the century remians difficult. 20th century, means that a chess player must have made a significant contribution in that century, thus Carlsen, Karjakin, Vachier-Lagrave (all born in 1990), Caruana (*1992), Giri (*1993), or So (*1994), are clearly considered as players of the current century. 

Prodigies born in the late 1980s like for instance Bu, Xiangzhi (*1985), Harikrishna (*1986), Gashimov (*1986), Radjabov (*1987), or Nakamura (*1987) are matched with the 21st century.

Morozevich (*1977), Leko (*1979), Vallejo Pons (*1982), Aronian (*1982), Bacrot (*1983), Ponomariov (*1983), or Grischuk (*1983), are partly crossing the border but had their individual career peak in the 21st century, too, as well as for instance Eljanov (*1983) and younger players, unknown at that time, raising to prominence in the current century.

Svidler took Tilburg, a supertournament, already in 1998 (first on tie-break, and beating Kasparov). He is a record seven times Russian Champion (1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013). Svidler (born in June 1976) is certainly a dignified choice to close the World Chess Players Hall of Fame of the 20th century, together with Judit Polgar (born in July 1976), the strongest woman of all time!

Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908), the last great player of the Romantic school style, has been a strong player until his death and especially served as a major source of inspiration for the "Soviet Chess School", which dominated the chess world in the middle and latter parts of the 20th century. Chigorin is a dignified choice to open the gallery of the male all-time-greats of the 20th century.

The main contribution of the Soviet School of Chess was not the style of players but their emphasis on rigorous training and study of the game, i.e. considering chess a sport rather than an art or science, and their hegemony in the (second half of the) 20th century.

Alternatively, you could personalize the 20th chess century as from Tarrasch to Leko, but the span from Chigorin to Svidler and Judit Polgar seems more appropriate.

  Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841-1924), strong British player and one of the world's leading players during the late 19th century, Amos Burn (1848-1925), strong British and one of the world's leading players during the late 19th century, James Mason (1849-1905), one of the world's best players in the 1880s, Emanuel Schiffers (1850-1904), for many years the second leading Russian player after Chigorin, Isidor Gunsberg (1854-1930), Hungarian chess player, best known for narrowly losing the World Championship match in 1891 to Wilhelm Steinitz from the Kingdom of Bohemia (Austrian Empire), born in Prague, died in New York in the year 1900, Semyon Alapin (1856-1923), another strong player in the Russian Empire in the late 19th century, Curt von Bardeleben (1861-1924), stong german chess master in the 1890s, and tragic Rudolf Charousek (1873-1900), brilliant Czech player from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, he had a short career, dying at the age of twenty-six from tuberculosis, are - amongst others - considered as leading players of the 19th century.

Further reading:
Schools of chess


Honorable mentions:

Bondarevsky, Ragozin, and Sämisch (the only three grandmasters left out from the title inaugural year 1950), Bondarevsky and Ragozin form the USSR both strong correspondence players as well. German Sämisch in retrospective somehow lucky to get the GM title, but Bogoljubov, who played then for Germany, had been left out at its first nomination, maybe some sort of compensation.

In 1950, FIDE had awarded 27 *living* chess masters as a Grandmaster (based on their previous achievements), 94 as an International Master, some of them (21 players) earned the GM title in the next following years, basically now on recent results, or were inducted much later by FIDE as a GM Honorary (decorated between 1977 and 2003), still some great players have never been honored (eg. Mir Sultan Khan), or died prior to this distinction (eg. Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine). 

Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov: lottery winners, yet lack of strength on average (a brutal decision, based on missing performance, actually both never achieved a FIDE Elo ranking above no. 10, and both have only a few tournament wins of note).

Khalifman was rated 44th of the world at the time when he was winning the FIDE World Chess Championship in knock-out, his most notable achievement. Kasimdzhanov even was just rated 54th of the world when he was winning a rapid play-off to become WCC in classical chess.

Donner, a brilliant and controversial conversationalist, chosen at first glance, surprisingly could not be included due to statistical comparisons, showing a rather mediocre input-output ratio. Thus his world peak ranking is only at 45th (Sonas chessmetrics), and =46 (FIDE inofficial list), respectively. He won thrice at Hoogovens in earlier days in Beverwijk, but these three wins have to be compared with an incredible amount of 24 A-invitations in the series, no less than ten times, Jan Hein Donner finished in the bottom half of the tournament table!

And in no particular order further chess players most
certainly belonging to the Top 200 of the 20th century:

Petrovs, Makogonov, Romanovsky, Bohatyrchuk, Verlinsky, Ilivitsky, Nei, Mikenas, Tolush, Suetin, Lipschütz, Kupchik, Ed. Lasker, Denker, Herman Steiner, Lajos Steiner, Horowitz, Dake, Colle, Fuderer, List, Landau, Opočenský, Foltys, Canal, Paoli, Prins, Lundin, Stoltz, P. F. Schmidt, Rellstab, Richter, Ahues, Darga, Yanofsky, Benkö, R. Byrne, Bisguier, Evans, Lombardy, Guimard, Rossetto, Rossolimo, Atkins, Yates, Thomas, C.H.O'D. Alexander, Golombek, Penrose, Pomar Salamanca, Pirc, Barcza, Trifunovic, Matulovic, Planinc, Kurajica, Velimirovic, Pr. Nikolic, I. Sokolov, Georgiev, Gheorghiu, Csom, Ribli, Sax, Adorjan, Kavalek, Smejkal, Ftacnik, Chandler, Balashov, Tukmakov, Romanishin, Gulko, DeFirmian, Christiansen, Spraggett, Rogers, A. Sokolov, Smirin, Dreev, Bareev, Almasi, Illescas Cordoba, Zapata Ramirez, Morovic Fernandez, Granda Zuniga, amongst others  

as well as notable / equal strong players, known for a prominent distinction in chess: 

Cécil Purdy (Australian inaugural World Correspondence Chess Champion in 1953) or

Kmoch (chess journalist), Barden (record chronicler), Koltanowski (promoter, organizer), Reinfeld (writer), Berliner (professor of computer science, World Correspondence Champion and OTB IM), Matanovic (main founder of the pioneering Informator), Schmid (arbiter of the century), Dvoretsky (instructor / trainer / coach), amongst others

All together about 200 strong chess masters, playing high-class games in the 20th century, unforgettable for eternity!

The World Chess Players Hall Of Fame, 20th Century (WCP-HOF), Women

The 10 female players and pioneers of the 20th century

Hall of Fame of the 10 strongest female chess players of the 20th century

(in chronological birth order from Menchik to Judit Polgar)

Menchik, Graf, Gaprindashvili, Kushnir, Chiburdanidze,
Cramling, Xie Jun, Susan Polgar, Zhu Chen, Judit Polgar

(Menchik aka Menchik-Stephenson, Graf aka Graf-Stevenson) 


The cut at the beginning and the end of the century remians difficult. 20th century, means that a chess player must have made a significant contribution in that century, thus Antoneata Stefanova (*1979), Bulgarian grandmaster and Women's World Champion from 2004-2006, Xu Yuhua (*1976), former Women's World Champion from 2006–2008 and China's third women's world champion after Xie Jun and Zhu Chen (see above), and Alexandra Kosteniuk (*1984), Russian Grandmaster and Women's World Chess Champion from 2008-2010, are matched with the 21st century.


Honorable mentions:

 Lyudmila Rudenko, Women's World Champion 1950-53,
Elisaveta Bykova, Women's World Champions 1953-56 and 1958-62,
Olga Rubtsova, Women's World Champions 1956-58
(She became also first Women's World Correspondence Chess Champion in 1972)

As of today, Olga Rubtsova remains the only player, male or female, to become a World Chess Champion in both over-the-board and correspondence chess!!

plus in no particular order: 

Chantal Chaudé de Silans, Clarice Benini, María Teresa Mora Iturralde,  Elaine Saunders Pritchard (née Saunders), Edith Charlotte Price, Rowena Mary Bruce (née Dew), Agnes Lawson-Stevenson, Paula Wolf-Kalmar, Edith Keller-Herrmann, Gisela Kahn Gresser, Mona May Karff, Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya, Käty van der Mije-Nicolau (born Alexandra Ekatarina Nicolau), Milunka Lazarević (later Milunka Marković), Nana Alexandria, Nana Ioseliani, Irina Levitina, Alisa Galliamova, Alisa Marić, Tatjana Lematschko, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, Sofia Polgar, and amongst others

Jana Malypetrova Hartston Miles Bellin

Dr. Jana Bellin (nee Malypetrová) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. FIDE awarded her the WIM title in 1969 and the WGM title in 1982. In 1965 and 1967 she was the Czechoslovak Women's Champion. She was the British Women's Champion in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1977 (after play-off) (as Hartston) and 1979 (as Miles). She is married to IM and 1979 British Champion Robert Bellin. Her prior husbands were IM William Hartston (the 1973 and 1975 British Champion) and GM Anthony Miles (the 1982 British Champion).
Biography from Chessgames: Jana Malypetrova Hartston Miles Bellin.

The Hall of Fame listings are a best-effort, with a subjective component, 
no offense or broken Gebrochenes Herz

The World Chess Players Hall Of Fame, 20th Century (WCP-HOF), Switzerland

The 25 players from Switzerland of the 20th century

Hall of Fame of the 25 strongest Swiss (born) chess players of the 20th century

(in chronological birth order from Pestalozzi to Jenni)

Max Pestalozzi, Hans Fahrni, Oskar Naegeli, Erwin Voellmy, Paul Johner, Hans Johner, Henry Grob, Max Blau, Martin Christoffel, Edgar Walther, Josef Kupper, Edwin Bhend, Otto Marthaler, Dieter Keller, Hansruedi Glauser, André Lombard, Heinz Wirthensohn, Hansjuerg Kaenel, Werner Hug, Giancarlo Franzoni, Beat Züger, Markus Trepp, Lucas Brunner, Yannick Pelletier, and Florian Jenni

Hans Fahrni (1874-1939) was ranked as a Top Twenty player of the World according to both, Sonas Chessmetrics and Edo Historical Chess Ratings

Five World Class adult international invitation or open tournaments won by a Swiss born player:

1909 (June) Munich 2 (Quadrangular): Hans Fahrni
(ahead of Tartakower, Alapin, and Spielmann)
Fahrni did not participate at the Munich 1 Quadrangular in January-February 1909 (Teichmann ahead of Alapin, and Przepiorka)

1911 San Remo, Italy (11 players): Hans Fahrni
 (Fahrni clear first in a field including Gunsberg, Reti, Kostic, or Fleischmann Forgacs)

This was the first international invitation tournament held in Italy, including a women's tournament and a Master group. In 1930, there was another and famous international chess tournament at San Remo, reigning World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine dominated the field with a score of 14/15, unbelievable 3½ points ahead of second place Aaron Nimzowitsch

1923 Trieste (12 players): Paul Johner
(ahead of Canal, Yates, and veteran Tarrasch)

1924 Berlin (Quadrangular): Paul Johner
(ahead of Rubinstein, Teichmann, and Mieses)

1937 Ostend (10 players): Henry Grob (first on tie-break)
(1st-3rd shared with Fine and Keres, both already absolute elite players and joint winners of the legendary AVRO tournament in 1938, and both, Fine and Keres, were beaten by Grob at Ostend)
Ostende (english: Ostend, french: Ostende) is a Belgian North Sea resort which hosted three all-time legendary chess tournaments in a row in 1905, 1906, 1907, plus further strong international invitation tournaments in 1936, 1937, and finally in 1956, as well as a series of Open Festivals in the 1980/90s

Major international tournaments (selection):

Lucerne 1949: Max Blau (ahead of 2./3. Rabar, Unzicker)
Reggio Emilia (inaugural edition) 1958/59: Otto Marthaler (4. Paoli)
Enschede 1961: Dieter Keller (together with Guimard, Argentina)
Zurich 1975 (international sui-ch): 1st-3rd Guillermo García González, Cuba as first on tie-break, Dieter Keller, Werner Hug
(Hug won a play-off vs. Keller to become Swiss Champion, in fact the only national title of Hug, World Junior Champion in 1971)
Baden-Baden B-group 1992 (Bank Hofmann): 1st-3rd John van der Wiel, The Netherlands as first on tie-break, Zoltan Ribli, Hungary, Lucas Brunner. Karpov won the (CS) A-group ahead of Lutz
(Despite sharing first place in this closed tournament, Brunner, IM since 1986, missed a GM norm, he got that title then in 1994)

In 1932, Oskar Naegeli, a dermatologist who had a doctorate of medicine degree and also was professor of medicine, beat then reigning World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine at Bern. It was the last game win of a Swiss born player against a reigning World Champion until Yannick Pelletier (no. 357 of the world) beat Magnus Carlsen (Elo no. 1) at the ETCC in 2015 in Reykjavik.


Honorable mention:

 Anna Näpfer, Monika Müller-Seps

The young ones:
Nico Georgiadis, Noël Studer, Patrik Grandadam, Lars Rindlisbacher (all are born in 1996),
Oliver Kurman, or Roland Lötscher

Playing for Switzerland:

Viktor Korchnoi, 
and Artur Popławski (Poland, twice National Chess Champion of Switzerland), Erno Gereben, Enrico Paoli (for a brief period in the 2000s), Raphael (Raaphi) Persitz, Charles Partos, Ivan Nemet, Roland Ekstroem, Viktor Gavrikov, Joseph (Joe) Gallagher, Vadim Milov

 Women: Tatjana Lematschko (from Bulgaria, emigrated at the Chess Olympiads in 1982), Alexandra Kosteniuk (absolute Swiss Champion in 2013, internationally playing for Russia)

Erste IM-Titel an Schweizer Schachspieler (Titelverleihungen der FIDE seit 1950)

Verleihung 1950:        Henry Grob *1904-1974, Sieger Ostende 1937 (mit Fine, Keres)

Verleihung 1950:        Hans Johner *1889-1975, Rekord: 12-facher CH-Landesmeister

Verleihung 1952:        Martin Christoffel *1922-2001 (weltweit 14 Spieler, ua. Tigran Petrosian)

Verleihung 1953:        Max (Maximilian) Blau *1918-1984 (weltweit 12 Spieler, ua. Boris Spasski)

Verleihung 1955:        Josef Kupper *1932 (weltweit 6 Spieler, ua. Bent Larsen)

Verleihung 1960:        Edwin Bhend * 1931 (weltweit nur 4 Spieler, mit Bobozow, Letelier, Minev)

Verleihung 1961:        Dieter Keller * 1936 (weltweit 18 Spieler, ua. Aaron, erster IM aus Indien)

Verleihung 1971:        Werner Hug * 1951 (weltweit 6 Spieler, *1951, Junioren-WM 1971)

Es folgen 1976 André Lombard (*1950) und Heinz Wirthensohn (*1951), welche zusammen mit Hug die 1970er Jahre prägen.


Andreas Huss (*1950) erhielt den IM 1987, Hansjörg Kaenel (*1950) erhielt den IM 1995. Mittlerweile hatten auch Spieler der frühen 1960er Jahrgänge einen IM-Titel erhalten (u.a. Züger, Franzoni oder Trepp (R.I.P.), alle mit Jahrgang 1961).

FIDE-Master aus dieser Zeit, die nach heutigem Massstab IM-Stärke erreicht hatten: Heinz Schaufelberger (*1947), Hansruedi Glauser (*1945-2014), Edgar Walther (*1930-2013), sowie 1950 bei der erstmaligen Titelvergabe von der FIDE für einen IM-Titel nicht berücksichtigte starke Schweizer Spieler aus den Zwischenkriegsjahren: Oskar Naegeli (*1885-1959, er schlug Weltmeister Aljechin), Erwin Voellmy (*1886-1951), unter anderen wenigen weiteren Spielern.

Hans Fahrni (*1874-1939), Sieger in München (Quadrangular) 1909 (Juni) und San Remo, Italien 1911, und Paul Johner (*1887-1938), Sieger in Trieste 1923 und Berlin (Quadrangular) 1924, waren zum Zeitpunkt der Titel-Inauguration durch die FIDE im Jahr 1950 bereits verstorben, sie hätten sicher den IM erhalten (wie Hans Johner, Bruder von Paul Johner und Henry Grob).

Viktor Kortschnoi (IM 1954, GM 1956) emigrierte 1976 in Amsterdam, und lebte seit 1977 in der Schweiz (Wohlen AG).

Viktor Gavrikov und Ivan Nemet sind ebenso verstorbene Grossmeister, welche (zeitweise) für die Schweiz spielten.

Den Schach-Grossmeistertitel der FIDE tragen Bogner (Spieler aus Deutschland), Gallagher (britischer Landesmeister, Heirat in der Schweiz), Milov (später Israel, starker Spieler mit internationaler Reputation aus der UdSSR, später Israel, vom Schweizer Schachverband ignoriert), sowie die in der Schweiz geborenen Brunner (aufgewachsen und Jugendmeister in Deutschland, als Profi zurückgetreten), Jenni (als Profi zwischenzeitlich zurückgetreten, gefolgt von Comeback) und Pelletier (lebt in Frankreich). 

Wichtig: Es gibt über heute 1'500 (!) lebende Schach-Grossmeister, bei der Titel-Inauguration im Jahr 1950 waren es weltweit genau 27 (davon etwa die Hälfte rein rückwirkend ernannt), in den ersten zwanzig Jahren von 1950 bis und mit 1969 (das Jahr 1969 war übrigens das einzige ohne neuen Grossmeister) wurden insgesamt nur 101 GM-Titel vergeben.

Mitte der 1970er Jahren gab es rund 100 aktive Grossmeister, Mitte der 1980er Jahren waren es rund 250. Seither kam es zu einer Inflation der Titel (GM, IM, FIDE-Meister, etc.), das heisst, Hans Fahrni, Paul Johner oder Henry Grob sind im (historischen) Ranking-Vergleich stärker als Werner Hug, Lucas Brunner, oder Yannick Pelletier.

Erster Schweizer Fernschach-Grossmeister (Weltverband ICCF) wurde 1973 Josef Steiner (Wohlen AG), später gefolgt von Ernst Eichborn (Zürich), Matthias Rüfenacht (Basel), und weiteren.

PS: Zum Elo-Wertungssystem, welches um 1970 eingeführt wurde, siehe  Elo rating & ranking -