Top 12 Best Chess Players in the World

Hello, chess enthusiasts! Eager to know who the current top grandmaster is? Well, say no more! In this article, we take a look at the top 12 best chess players in the world.

Chess is a sport of meticulous concentration and immaculate foresight. Moreover, it is an indoor sport that works the mind and forces you to outsmart your opponent. 

Chess game
Chess game.

While some are born with innate talents, some work their way through and establish themselves as the best. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 12 best chess players in the world.

Top 12 Best Chess Players in the World

The following list is compiled from official and trusted sources such as and International Chess Federation (FIDE).

Before we dive in, let’s first take a sneak-peek into the current top 12 best chess players in the world.

12. Richard RapportHungary
11. Shakhriyar MamedyarovAzerbaijan
10. Teimour RadjabovAzerbaijan
9. Maxime Vachier-LagraveFrance
8. Alexander GrischukRussia
7. Anish GiriRussia (Until 2009) Netherlands (Since 2009)
6. Wesley SoUnited States of America
5. Levon AronianArmenia
4. Ian NepomniachtchiRussia
3. Ding LirenChina
2. Fabiano CaruanaUnited States of America
1. Magnus CarlsenNorway

12. Richard Rapport

Richard Rapport is a Hungarian grandmaster who currently holds the number 12 spot in the chess rankings. The 26-year-old was considered a former prodigy of the sport.

Before turning 14 years old, Richard has stepped up his game to a whole new level. What’s more, the Hungarian international became the youngest ever Hungarian Grandmaster. Furthermore, he cemented himself as the youngest Grandmaster in the world at that time.

Richard Rapport during Grenke Chess Open. Source:

Rapport became the Hungarian Chess Champion in 2017. Additionally, the current world number 12 broke the 2750-rating threshold in September 2019.

11. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Born in Azerbaijan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is a super-grandmaster born on April 12, 1985.

Mamedyarov is a master tactician and a two-time Azerbaijan Chess Champion. Moreover, the Azerbaijan international became the world’s number two in the FIDE ratings of ranked players in February 2018.

Furthermore, the 37-year-old reached the sixth-highest rating of 2826 in 2018.

Mamedyarov won the 2013 World Rapid Championship. In addition, he was victorious in the 2018 Biel Chess Festival as well.

He also won the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix and also finished second in the 2018 Candidates Tournament.

10. Teimour Radjabov

Another Azerbaijani on the list, Teimour Radjabov, personifies the essence of never giving up.

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His ratings fell below 2700 in November 2016. However, with a strong showing in the 2019 FIDE World Cup, Teimour clawed his way back into the top 10. 

Furthermore, Radjabov, with his teammate Shakhriyar Mamedyarov claimed gold in the European Team Chess Championship in the 2013 and 2017 iterations. Additionally, he won the Geneva leg in the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix.

Having seen both the highs and the lows, Radjabov is a testament to achieving results with sheer hard work and perseverance.

9. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is a French super-grandmaster who currently holds the world number 9 position.

An early bird, the French international fell in love with chess at the mere age of 4. He had received a chessboard as a Christmas gift. Shortly after that, the young prodigy became a world-beater.

Also known as MVL, the five-time Biel Grandmaster Champion is one of the world’s top chess players. Furthermore, he has three French Chess Champion titles and is also a two-time European Blitz Champion.

Additionally, the 31-year-old holds the seventh-highest ratings of 2819.

8. Alexander Grischuk

Born in Russia, Alexander Grischuk is a super-grandmaster best known for his tenacious outlook. A determined player, Grischuk always expects the very best from himself.

The 38-year-old has been a constant feature in the top 10 chess players. Moreover, he reached his peak rankings of number 3 in 2014. Furthermore, he broke the 2800-threshold during the same year.

Alexander Grischuk during the World Rapid Chess Championship. Source:

The Russian international won the Russian Chess Championship in 2009. Additionally, he bagged two Olympiad gold medals.

Along with that, he has four World Team Chess Championship gold medals to his name.

7. Anish Giri

Anish Giri is a Dutch grandmaster who is well-known for his flexible and universal playing style.

Born to a Nepali father, Sanjay Giri, and a Russian mother, Olga Giri started playing chess at the age of 6. And by the age of 14 years, 7 months, and 2 days, he got qualified for the title of grandmaster.

Representing the Netherlands since 2010, Giri has shown the world just what a modern-day solid grandmaster is capable of achieving. 

The 27-year-old is a four-time Dutch champion. Furthermore, he came out victorious in the 2012 Reggio Emilia Tournament and the 2017 Reykjavik Open.

Further, he won the Shenzhen Masters 2019. He also secured a total victory in the 2021 Magnus Carlsen Invitational as well.

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6. Wesley So

A child prodigy who entered chess at the mere age of 9, Wesley So is a phenomenal Filipino-American grandmaster.

Impressive from the get-go, So became the ninth-youngest grandmaster in the history of chess. Furthermore, he broke another record when he was 15, becoming the youngest player to surpass the 2600-threshold.

In the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, So bagged the gold against Zaven Andriasian.

Most notably, So became the world number two in March 2017 with a rating of 2822. Additionally, he won the first-ever Fischer Random World Chess Championship, trouncing Magnus Carlsen.

5. Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian is an Armenian grandmaster widely known for his consistent top-drawer performances. Aronian has not slipped out of the top 20 world chess ranking, which he entered in 2005.

To highlight his illustrious career, Levon reached his peak rating of 2830. Furthermore, he is the fourth-highest rated player in the history of chess rankings.

Similarly, his accolade-filled career includes complete victory in Fischer Random Chess (in blitz & rapid). Additionally, he has team gold medals for Armenia, and two Chess World Cup wins as well.

4. Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi, more commonly known as Nepo, is a Russian super-grandmaster. A tactical genius, Nepo has forced his way into the limelight of chess.

The 2020/21 Candidates Tournament champion is vying to reach the very top. Moreover, he aims to do just that by trouncing Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. The matchup promises to be an exciting one!

Adjusting the pieces. Source:

The current world number four won the World Junior Championship in 2002. What’s more, he beat his current World Championship rival, Magnus Carlsen, to claim the trophy.

A genius in his own right, the sky is the limit for Ian Nepomniachtchi.

3. Ding Liren

Born in China, Ding Liren is a world-class chess player. Known for his elaborate tactics, Liren is undoubtedly one of the very best in the sport.

To start, Ding was the youngest winner of the Chinese Chess Championship, winning it at 16. Furthermore, Liren became the first player to reach the Chess World Cup finals twice in a row.

Additionally, the 29-year-old amassed two team gold medals in the Chess Olympiads. Furthermore, he bagged another gold in the individual category in the same tournament.

Similarly, he went on to win gold at the World Team Championship as well. He also held a 100-game unbeaten streak until October 2019.

On top of that, with a 2816 rating, Liren also holds the tenth-best rating of all time.

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2. Fabiano Caruana

American-born Fabiano Caruana is a child prodigy turned world-beater who is making new heights every day.

Fabiano has cemented himself as one of the sport’s greatest, becoming the youngest American chess grandmaster. He broke the record held by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura by being a grandmaster at 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days.

Being natural at the sport from as early as 5, Fabiano became a FIDE master in 2002. Furthermore, he won the Italian Chess Championship shortly after being the youngest grandmaster.

Fabiano has amassed a plethora of wins and trophies during his illustrious career. However, his most notable success features the Sinquefield Cup victory.

Furthermore, boasting a performance rating of 3080, the 29 had the best tournament performance in chess history.

Caruana beat Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, and World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Moreover, he became the second-highest-rated player in the world shortly after the event.

Lastly, the current world number two came close to winning the World Chess Championship. However, he came off second, losing in the tie-break playoffs to Magnus Carlsen.

1. Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen is a name that has, in recent times, become synonymous with chess. Widely regarded as a genius, Carlsen lives up to his name, as the current world-number-one boasts an IQ of 190.

Magnus sent shockwaves around the globe at the mere age of 13, as the Norwegian wonder-kid drew with Gary Kasparov and defeated Anatoly Karpov in 2004. Immediately after, he became the second-youngest grandmaster in the history of chess.

Magnus Carlsen, genius personified. Source:

Furthermore, he became the youngest player in the world to surpass the 2800-rating threshold. Moreover, the 31-year-old is not only brilliant but is also terrifyingly consistent.

Carlsen stormed into the being the world’s number-one in ranking in 2011. The genius-incarnated hasn’t been overtaken ever since.

Additionally, his world titles include two in Rapid and four in Blitz time controls. Likewise, he holds the highest rating ever. Consequently, he has also racked up several elite tournament victories, including two Norway Chess victories and seven in Wijk Aan Zee.

Already considered as one of the all-time greats, Magnus Carlsen is a name that will echo in the chess community for a very long time.

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Chess is a sport that requires utmost concentration. Furthermore, it demands sheer patience and unshakable mental fortitude. Be it leisurely or competitively, chess works the mind like no other.

Knowing what moves to make and what tactics to use has been the fundamentals of chess, and the top, as mentioned above, 12 best chess players in the world signify just that.

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